Rare Wild Cats – The 10 Most Beautiful Cute Wild Cats

Posted in Cat News, Cat Pictures - On: April 3, 2023 - Author:  Jan Travell
Posted in Cat News, Cat Pictures 
Last Updated: January 6, 2024  
Author:  Jan Travell

We are all familiar with the big cats that roam this planet, such as lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs and jaguars. We also know about smaller wild cats, bobcats, ocelots and the fabulous lynx. Did you realise that are many more, lesser-known species of rare wild cats, cousins if you like, to the more recognisable cats that we often see on rare wild cats programmes?

A lot of these are rare wild cats are never seen, and although they are often smaller than their more famous domesticated cousins, and look cute enough to cuddle, they can be just as wild and ferocious. Crossing paths with one of these rare wild cats would not be a pleasant experience.

There are around 41 different species of wild cats, many of which are endangered, and although it’s never nice to see them in captivity it has contributed to stopping these beautiful animals from becoming extinct. Have a look at these 10 species of lesser-known rare wild cats and remember, no cuddling!

1. Pallas’ Cat: The Oldest Species of Rare Wild Cats


The Pallas’ cat (Otocolobus manul) is also called Manul. These rare wild cats are about the size of a domestic cat, but appear heavier because of their dense fur. They are believed to be the oldest species of cat, having evolved about 12 million years ago.

2. Sand Cat: Found in the Deserts of Africa, Arabia and, Asia.

sand cat

The Sand cat (Felis margarita) is a rare wild cat found in the deserts of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and western Asia. It is about the size of a domestic cat, with thicker and longer fur. Sand Cats have fur growing between their toes just like Arctic cats. This fur works acts like insulation for the paws against the environment and keeps the Sand Cat’s feet protected from hot surfaces instead of snow.

3. Caracal: Commonly Known as “Black Ears”


The Caracal (Caracal caracal) lives in Africa and Asia, their name originates from the Turkish word “karakulak,” meaning “black ears.” These rare wild cats hunt at night and often attack animals two or three times their size, such as antelope.

4. Canadian Lynx: Just Look at the size of those paws!

Canadian Lynx

The Canadian lynx (Lynx canadensis) has very thick, light brown or grey fur with light black spots. It has large ears with long black tufts at the ends. Just look at the size of those paws! Rare wild cats can be seriously magnificent, can’t they! 

5. Serval: An Ancestor of Both the Lion and Cheetah


The Serval (Leptailurus serval) is a three to four foot long African rare wild cat that is believed to be the ancient ancestor of both the lion and the cheetah. Servals are highly intelligent with small heads and long legs, efficient for chasing prey through the grass. In some countries it is legal to keep Servals as pets.

6. Jaguarundi: Rare Wild Cats Native in Central & South America


The jaguarundi rare wild cat (Puma yagouaroundi) is somewhat weasel-like in appearance. The body is long and slender, with short legs, a small, flattened head, short, rounded ears, and a long tail. These small rare wild cats are native to Central and South America.

7. Andean Mountain Cat: Found at High Altitude in South America

Andean Mountain Cat

The Andean mountain cat (Leopardus jacobita) is rarely seen and lives in the mountains of Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, and Chile at altitudes above the tree line. The total estimated population of these rare wild cats is only about 2500. This cat grows to only about two feet in length, with a long bushy tail that provides a useful counterweight for manoeuvring around mountains.

8. Rusty Spotted Cat: The Humming Bird of the Cat World.

Rusty Spotted Cat

The rusty-spotted cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) is one of the cat family’s smallest members and is found only in India and Sri Lanka. Because of their size, these delightful rare wild cats are known as the hummingbird of the cat world.

9. Margay: The King of Tree climbers! 


The Margay (Leopardus wiedii) resembles an ocelot but is much smaller. These rare wild cats have long legs make them excellent tree climbers. Their territory stretches from Mexico down through Brazil where it hunts at night, hidden in the rain forest.

10. Pampas Cat: Elusive South American Rare Wild Cat


Pampas cats (Leopardus pajeros) are about the size of a large domestic cat and these very rare wild cats are native to the Pampas region in South America, hence the name. Their fur ranges in colour from white to grey or brown, often with stripes and spots. Little is known about their hunting habits but have been spotted feeding on rodents, wild birds and poultry.

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About the author

Jan Travell is a lifelong cat owner and a feline expert. She's been the Cats and Kittens lead editor from the start. She lives in rural France with her two rescue cats, Tigerlily and Mr.Gee. Her senior kitty, Ducati, passed over the rainbow bridge recently at the ripe old age of 22.

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