It seems that the world may be divided into dog lovers and cat lovers. The difference between them even inspiring Holywood movies. Yet, the truth is that everyone loves big cats; they’re among the most easily recognizable and adored wild animals in the world.
If you love domestic cats, then you’ll sense a special connection with their larger counterparts. If you’ve ever seen these special animals in the flesh (or the fur) then you already know how captivating they are. If you haven’t, then this article will fuel the fascination and desire to learn more about them.
We’re going to share the top 7 defining qualities of big cats. You’ll be amazed, surprised, and charmed by what you’ll learn.
1. Roar Power
Big cats don’t mess around when it comes to making their presence known. A roar from a lion can be heard up to 5 miles away. You might think that means a big cat has a huge pair of lungs, but it’s their throat, not their lungs that enable them to roar big.
The key to their sound is their specialized larynx. The shape of the voice box means they only need a small amount of air to pass through two flat layers of fat to produce a roar. If you’ve ever heard this in person, you will know it’s truly scary.
2. Panthera Versus Felis
A major difference between big cats and domestic cats is their genus. Big cats belong to the Panthera genus while domestic cats belong to the Felis genus. One of the genetic differences is that the markings on a big cat are distinct.
Stripes, spots, and circles are typical patterns on big cats. These markings look beautiful, so much so that domestic cat breeders have worked really hard to cultivate and develop these patterns in smaller cats like the Bengal cat. One of the reasons is likely that owners feels more connected to the wild.
3. Apex Predator
The food chain reaches its apex with big cats. Having no natural predator, acquiring lunch, dinner and breakfast shouldn’t be a problem for these guys. Yet, do big cats really get to run the show out in the wild?
You might be surprised to know that being a top predator doesn’t automatically make catching dinner easy. Lions are often scared of their prey and can be seriously injured, even killed trying to secure their next meal.
4. Bite Size
If you came across the path of any big wild cat you wouldn’t want to be hanging around to see if their roar was as big as their bite. However, not all big cats bite the same. The Jaguar has the strongest bite, more powerful than a Gorilla and twice the strength of a lion.
There is a variety in the strength of big cats and their bite due to the shape of their skull, jaw, and muscle volume. Shorter jaws and longer skull give the cutting edge to the Jaguar’s biting ability. The Jaguar is able to pierce right through the skull of its prey with one impressive bite.
5. Eye Spy
There has always been something captivating about cats’ eye shape. Humans are so taken with the look that we have cosmetic makeup and even surgery to attain a similar shape. A big cat fact is that big cats do not have the same eyes as house cats.
A domestic cat’s eye has slit-shaped pupils, but the big cats’ pupils are circular. It’s a fact, big cats have big eyes! There are ongoing debates as to why this is, from the difference in height, hunting technique to the volume of light exposure.
6. Brainy Cat
Big cats have a bigger brain to body mass ratio than domestic cats. The tiger takes the crown for having the biggest brain of the wild cats. Yet the debate is still out for which cat holds the highest IQ.
We know science proves having literally big-sized brains isn’t everything. For the big cat species, however, it does seem to be a bonus. Big cats are not just at the top of the food chain but they are high up on the intelligence spectrum too.
7. Reproductive Cycle
The reproduction process for big cats is a far cry from romance. Big cats, like lions and leopards, will mate every 15 minutes for a period of about 5 days. The female not only has to endure frequent visits from her partner but due to the unique anatomy of the male’s reproductive organs, it’s a very painful process.
Most female big cats are the ones that will rear the cubs on their own. Big cats will only give birth to between 1 and 4 cubs per litter. In contrast, domestic cats can have up to 12 kittens in one litter.
Big Cats Fact FURnale
In this article, you’ve read about the 7 defining qualities of big cats. Big cats and small cats share more similarities than differences. Yet, a major defining quality of many big cats is their roar.
The other qualities of big cats relate to their genetic differences from small cats. This manifests itself in their skull, jaw, and brain structure as well as their reproductive abilities.
Scientists are continuing to learn more and more about these fascinating and captivating animals. As they learn more, you can be sure we will want to read about it. You can check out other interesting and informative articles on our website.