Category: big cats

Amazing Cats: He Who Kills With One Bound

The name jaguar comes from the indigenous Tupian word yaguara, meaning “he who kills with one bound.”

On the Scale of Badassery that’s an 11, which is appropriate for such a regal, ephemeral creature who seems to exist only in glimpses before melting back into the jungle.

From ancient chronicles etched in Mayan pictograms to modern-day descriptions of encounters with jaguars, one thing is consistent: When you’re fortunate enough to set eyes on a jaguar, it’s because the animal allows you to.

The world’s most elusive hunter is like smoke: There one moment, gone the next, without any physical evidence that it was present in the first place.

There’s a lot of confusion about jaguars, so let’s get that out of the way first. The jaguar is the third-largest-cat on the planet, behind tigers and lions. Jaguars are the largest cats in the Western Hemisphere and are the apex predators in the Americas.

They’re often confused with leopards, the other spotted big cats, but aside from living on different continents, jaguars are visibly larger, heavier and more sturdy than their African cousins.

Compounding the confusion is the widespread habit of using “panther” to describe both jaguars and leopards, and sometimes other cats too, like pumas.

A panther isn’t a type of cat: Panthera is the genus to which big cats — tigers, lions, jaguars and leopards — belong, while a black panther can refer to any melanistic jaguar or leopard.

jaguaryawn

Like its cousins in the genus, the jaguar is an ambush hunter.

But unlike tigers, leopards and lions, jaguars do not kill by going for the spinal cord — they go for the head itself, puncturing skulls, turtle shells, heavily armored caiman scales and anything else they want to make a meal of.

That’s where the “one bound” in their name comes from: By the time a jaguar pounces, it’s already too late for the victim.

Jaguars are paragons of feline grace, yet even among cats they’re strikingly beautiful animals:

6DD23C8C-F9F4-4AFB-B7F9-43709046ED16

FC9F02C8-D401-4747-8810-2B5F2744E6C7

Unlike tigers and lions, there are no recorded cases of prolific man-eaters among jaguars, and the mysterious cats are careful to avoid conflict with humans. The one exception is when a female jaguar feels her cubs are threatened.

Travelers who brave the untamed, near-impenetrable remote rainforests of South America may not see jaguars on their journeys, but the jaguars see them: Humans who venture into the thick tangle are “calmly watched by a jaguar or two” and most of them “don’t realize they’re under surveillance,” Nadia Drake wrote in a 2018 Atlantic story about encountering the enigmatic felids in Peruvian jungles:

Those who have studied jaguars say they sense a kind of preternatural consciousness in the beasts, a combination of disciplined energy and shrewd awareness that allows the jaguar to unleash its power in calculated ways. Alan Rabinowitz, struggling to find the right words, calls it simply “jaguarness.”

The ancient Aztecs saw that same cunning in the eyes of jaguars, naming them the “kings of the animal world” and employing jaguar motifs on statuary, stone reliefs and other artwork. Jaguar imagery was common throughout the pre-European Americas, and at the time the animal ranged across North and South America without a true rival at the apex.

Like tiger imagery is used to denote power, grace and agility in Asian cultures, the jaguar’s image was used for similar purposes, associating the animals with royalty and gods.

In Mayan culture, deities took the form of jaguars, and the big cats were known as gods of the underworld, fertility, war, protection and fire. Ek Balam, for example, was the Mayan god of the underworld, and was depicted as a black (melanistic) jaguar.

Jaguars share another quality with tigers, one that’s rare among cats: They not only enjoy the water, they excel at swimming and even hunting in rivers and swamps. While most cats will do almost anything to avoid entering water, jaguars and tigers have no reservations about immersing themselves, particularly on hot days.

jaguarwater

Like all big cats, jaguar numbers are decreasing. The animal is classified as “near-threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as its habitat has been fractured.

Unlike the other members of the panthera genus, habitat loss hasn’t led to conflicts between humans and the majestic cats. Jaguars, it seems, would rather retreat deeper into the jungle than go to war with humans. It’s crucial to preserve what’s left so these beautiful, amazing cats still have a jungle to go back to.

All photos courtesy of National Geographic and Mexico Lore.

790EB2B3-1CA8-4201-B980-B8129826AAC3

Reason #138 To Keep Your Cats Indoors: Mountain Lions

Just to clear up any misunderstandings — and hopefully stave off more of those “Would a tiger and a house cat be good friends?” questions — cats aren’t down with each other just because they’re cats.

You won’t see a jaguar high-fiving a jaguarundi like “Sup bro? Hunt anything delicious lately?”

And you sure as hell won’t see your cat shooting the shit with a puma on your back porch, trading war stories about taking down prey.

Nope. To the puma, your cat is the prey.

That’s what happened early on Thursday morning in Boulder Creek, California, where footage from a Ring doorbell cam shows a puma — also known as a mountain lion or cougar — hovering over something partially obscured by a planter. There’s a flash of domestic kitty eyes for the briefest instant, then more noise followed by the puma walking away with the cat in its jaws.

Cougar/Puma
Despite their large size, cougars are not considered “big cats” and are not aggressive toward humans. Source: CBS2NY

Sue Ann Sheely, whose camera caught the attack, said it’s the second time she’s seen a local cat fall victim to a cougar. She sent the footage to a local news station so her neighbors will finally wise up and bring their cats indoors.

Like coyotes, pumas aren’t breeding in greater numbers or suddenly intruding on human territory: We’re the intruders, chipping away at the wild cat’s habitat with each new housing development and strip mall we build. The majestic-looking cats die in unusually high numbers when roads cut through their ranges, and simply brushing up against a human neighborhood is often enough to get them shot.

With fractured habitats and fewer prey animals to hunt, pumas will sometimes turn to domestic animals as prey. Attacks on humans are exceedingly rare, and pumas normally do their best to steer clear of humans.

Previously, we’ve looked at other reasons to keep your cat indoors: Reason #127 To Keep Your Cats Indoors: Bad Guys, Reason #246 To Keep Your Cats Indoors: Coyotes, and Reason #001 To Keep Your Cats Indoors: Traffic.

Jaguarundi
The jaguarundi may be small, but it doesn’t mess around. Credit: CostaRicaJourneys

Can You Spot The Leopard In This Photo?

Most people know leopard spots afford the big cats excellent camouflage, but this is ridiculous. There’s a leopard in this photo. Can you see it?

leopardphoto

The viral photo has been making the rounds online over the past 24 hours. If you can’t find the leopard, don’t feel bad: I stared at the damn thing for 10 minutes until I cheated and looked up the answer.

Unfortunately it looks like the highest-resolution version of the photo that exists on the web is only 1280×720, so we don’t get the benefit of HD. Either way, this cat has an impressive ability to blend into its surroundings.

A search turns up quite a few similar photos, like this one of a snow leopard:

leopardsnow

See it yet?

How about now?

leopardsnow2

Like all big cats, leopards are disappearing from the wild due to habitat destruction, hunting and cub-poaching.

This Handsome Chonkster Does Crunches!

It seems like a new super chonk cat goes viral everyday, and it’s always the same story — the cat comes from a home where its owner is either negligent or unable to properly care for kitty, and a rescue is left with the dual responsibility of finding a new home and getting the cat to slim down.

That’s the case with Wilford, a handsome eight-year-old tabby who weighs in at a hefty 28 pounds.

Wilford is living with a D.C.-area foster couple, who have the long-haired dude on a diet and are trying to get him to exercise. They say his ideal weight is about 14 pounds, half of what he weighs now.

But as the video below illustrates, Wilford is so heavy, “playing” for him means laying on his back and doing “crunches” while batting at his wand toys instead of chasing them:

View this post on Instagram

***Wednesday Workouts with Wilford!!*** . Look at this guy go!! . Wilford absolutely loves to play- but he only feels comfortable doing so while safely ensconced beneath the dining room table. (Kind of like preferring to work out at home instead of at the gym!) . He is doing really well and has officially started to lose weight. He is definitely down at least half a pound, and I suspect even more, but again, his irregular bowel movements make getting an accurate assessment difficult. In any event- he’s definitely heading in the right direction and seems more and more confident and content every day. . We finally feel that Wilford is in a good place to start looking for his forever family and are making him adoptable as of this week. If you know of anyone who might be interested, please have them reach out. We are looking for local adopters only right now. (Greater Washington DC area). . *************DISCLAIMER************ Yes, Wilford is morbidly obese. No, it’s not ok. He is a foster and he is being treated for his obesity as well as other issues. He is under veterinary supervision. *************************************** . #Wilford #wilfordthegreat #wilfordbrimley . #adoptdontshop #fosteringsaveslives #foster #ldcrf #handsomecat #adorable #studmuffin #cats #catsofinstagram #preownedcat #obesecat #fatcat #love #weightlossjourney #lostdogandcatrescue #adopt #cat #love #adoptyourbestfriend #lovemeow #bestmeow #catloversclub #cats_of_instagram #cathealth #obesepet #weightloss #cute

A post shared by Playschool for Wayward Kittens (@pokeypotpie) on

“Wilford absolutely loves to play- but he only feels comfortable doing so while safely ensconced beneath the dining room table,” his foster humans wrote on Instagram. “Kind of like preferring to work out at home instead of at the gym!”

In a bit of TMI, they say Wilford’s dropped some weight and is ready to start the process of screening for a forever home, but they’re still concerned over his sluggish ways and his “irregular vowel movements.”

Read: If you’re looking to adopt this regal little guy, you shouldn’t be the type who’s squeamish about blown-up litter boxes.

While handling Wilford feels like “picking up a greasy watermelon when you have to move him from place to place,” foster parent Jen tells DCist, “he is an absolute delight and we are so grateful to have the opportunity to spend time with him.”

Wilford’s favorite position is laying on his back, and unlike most cats, he actually likes it when humans scratch his belly.

“I mean, he’s just absolutely adorable,” Jen said. “He’s very dramatic, and when he wants something, he’ll roll over and just squeak. And you’re basically like, ‘Alright, Wilford, I’ll give you another tummy rub.’”

5097267B-C5FE-45F8-B1A9-E7E6A16557D5

Chinese Government to Citizens: ‘Deal With’ Your Pets, Or We Will

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a government with no respect for any kind of life — human or animal — would threaten the mass extermination of cats and dogs.

It’s par for the course in China, where authorities in dozens of cities and provinces are urging people to “deal with” their pets in the wake of the Coronavirus threat — or the government will, media reports say.

The warnings have been issued in Wuhan, the epicenter of the Coronavirus, as well as Shanxi, Beijing, Tianjin, Shandong, Hebei and Shanghai, according to the Humane Society International.

Yet there’s no evidence the virus has been transmitted by domesticated pets like cats and dogs, and no evidence those animals can catch it from humans, experts say.

In Wuhan, residents have been told to keep their pets indoors, and warned that any cats or dogs spotted outdoors will be “killed and buried on the spot,” the UK’s Metro reported.

But experts say it’s the government’s fault that the virus jumped from wild animals to humans in the first place. China has refused to shut down so-called “wet markets,” where live animals are sold next to the carcasses of recently-slaughtered animals, despite the fact that SARS and other viruses originated from those markets.

9798BD46-4531-416F-8620-684F4B91C3D2
A Chinese wet market. Credit: Nikkei

Officials believe the Coronavirus originated at the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market, one of many “wet markets” described as “filthy, crowded places where animals are displayed alive in small cages” and “are often slaughtered on site.”

China has been “mired in long-held beliefs about the benefits of eating exotic and often endangered animals for good health,” the Humane Society said in a statement, referring to traditional Chinese “medicine” and other folk practices that use animal parts in ineffective and dangerous tonics and elixirs.

In addition to creating the circumstances for viruses to jump from wild animals to humans, the illegal wildlife trade has pushed animals like tigers and pangolins to the brink of extinction.

“Chinese society is boiling with anger at wildlife policy failures,” said the Humane Society International’s China policy specialist, Peter Li. “Social media is full of posts condemning the refusal to shut down the wildlife markets. This is the worst Chinese New Year in China’s recent history.”