Thursday, November 16, 2023

Asiatic Golden Cat

Asiatic Golden Cat UPSC

The Asiatic golden cat (Catopuma temminckii), also known as the Asian golden cat, Temminck's cat, or red cat, is a wild cat species native to Southeast Asia

It is a medium-sized wild cat, similar in size to a domestic cat, but more robust. The coat color varies from golden to red-brown, and it may have spots or marbling. 

The conservation status of the Asiatic golden cat is classified as "Near Threatened" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The main threats to their survival include habitat loss due to deforestation, poaching for their pelts and bones, and retaliatory killing by humans.

Table of Contents

  • Asiatic Golden Cat Characteristics
    • Classification
    • Scientific Name
    • Habitat
    • Physical Appearance
    • Diet
    • Behavior
    • Reproduction
    • Lifespan
    • Local Names
  • Asiatic Golden Cat in India
  • Asiatic Golden Cat Protection Status
  • Importance of Asian Golden Cat
  • Threats
  • Asiatic Golden Cat UPSC Questions

Asiatic Golden Cat Characteristics

The Asiatic golden cat (Catopuma temminckii) possesses several distinctive characteristics that contribute to its unique appearance and behavior. Here are some key characteristics of the Asiatic golden cat:

1. Classification:

The classification of the Asiatic golden cat (Catopuma temminckii) is as follows:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Felidae
  • Subfamily: Pantherinae
  • Genus: Catopuma
  • Species: C. temminckii

2. Scientific Name:

The scientific name of the Asiatic golden cat is Catopuma temminckii. The Asiatic golden cat’s scientific name honours Coenraad Jacob Temminck.

3. Habitat:

The Asiatic golden cat (Catopuma temminckii) inhabits a range of forested habitats in Southeast Asia. Its habitat preferences include:

(i) Tropical Rainforests: Asiatic golden cats can be found in tropical rainforests, where dense vegetation and a variety of prey species provide suitable conditions for their survival.

(ii) Subtropical Rainforests: They also inhabit subtropical rainforests, which are characterized by a slightly cooler climate compared to tropical rainforests.

(iii) Deciduous Forests: In addition to rainforests, Asiatic golden cats are known to occupy deciduous forests, where the trees lose their leaves seasonally.

(iv) Montane Forests: These cats may be found in montane forests, which are forests that occur in mountainous regions, often at higher elevations.

Their distribution spans across countries in Southeast Asia, including Nepal, India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, and southern China. The specific habitat within these regions can vary, but the common thread is the presence of forested areas that provide the necessary cover and resources for the Asiatic golden cat's survival.

4. Physical Appearance:

(i) Size: 

Asiatic golden cats are medium-sized, comparable to a domestic cat but more robust. 

  • Head-to-body length: 66–105 cm (26–41 in)
  • Tail length: 40–57 cm (16–22 in)
  • Shoulder height: 56 cm (22 in)
  • Weight: Ranging from 9 to 16 kg (20 to 35 lb)

(ii) Coat Color: 

The coat color can range from golden to red-brown, with variations including grayish individuals. The coloration helps them blend into their forested habitats. Scientists have found that its coat comes in six types: 

  • cinnamon, 
  • golden, 
  • gray, 
  • melanistic, 
  • ocelot and 
  • tightly rosetted.

(iii) Coat Patterns:

They may exhibit a variety of coat patterns, such as spots, stripes, or marbling. The patterns can vary among individuals. Recorded variations in different regions such as northeastern India, Bhutan, Sumatra, the eastern Himalayas, and China.

(iv) Facial Markings:

The face often features distinctive markings, including white lines or spots around the eyes and on the cheeks.

(v) Ear Tufts:

Some Asiatic golden cats have tufted ears, which are small, pointed tufts of fur on the tips of their ears.

(vi) Robust Build:

Asiatic golden cats have a robust and muscular build, adapted for life in forested environments. Their body structure aids in climbing and navigating through the trees.

5. Diet:

The Asiatic golden cat is a carnivorous predator with a diet that primarily consists of various small to medium-sized mammals, birds, and reptiles. Here are some key points regarding the diet of the Asiatic golden cat:

(i) Mammals:

The cat preys on small and medium-sized mammals, such as rodents, squirrels, and other mammals found in its habitat. Despite being medium-sized, Asiatic golden cats are capable of bringing down prey much larger than themselves, including small deer and other mammals of similar size.


Birds are a part of the Asiatic golden cat's diet. They may hunt ground-dwelling birds or take advantage of bird nests.

(iii) Reptiles:

Reptiles, including lizards and other small reptiles, are also on the menu for the Asiatic golden cat.

(iv) Scavenging:

While primarily a hunter, the Asiatic golden cat may also scavenge carrion or take advantage of prey that has been killed by other predators.

6. Behavior:

The behavior of the Asiatic golden cat is influenced by its habitat, lifestyle, and role as a carnivorous predator. Here are some key aspects of their behavior:

(i) Solitary Nature:

Asiatic golden cats are primarily solitary animals, and they typically operate and hunt alone. Adults are known to maintain individual territories, which they mark with scent markings, scratches, and vocalizations.

(ii) Nocturnal Activity:

They are generally more active during the night, displaying nocturnal behavior. This behavior is advantageous for hunting, as many of their prey species are also active during the night.

(iii) Territorial Behavior:

Asiatic golden cats are territorial, and they mark their territories to communicate with other individuals. Scent markings and vocalizations are common methods of territory delineation.

(iv) Climbing Ability:

Asiatic golden cats are skilled climbers and are known to ascend trees when necessary. This ability aids in navigating their forested habitats and can be used for both hunting and avoiding predators.

(v) Hunting Techniques:

They are stealthy hunters, using their agility and camouflage to stalk and ambush prey. Their hunting repertoire includes a variety of prey, such as birds, hares, rodents, reptiles, and small ungulates.

(vi) Adaptability:

The Asiatic golden cat is adaptable to various environments, ranging from tropical rainforests to deciduous forests and montane areas. This adaptability is reflected in its diverse diet and ability to thrive in different ecosystems.

(vii) Communication:

Communication involves vocalizations, which can include hissing, spitting, meowing, purring, growling, and gurgling. These vocalizations may be used for territory marking, mating, or expressing other aspects of their behavior.

(viii) Interaction with Humans:

Asiatic golden cats are generally elusive and tend to avoid human contact. However, they may come into conflict with humans, particularly in areas where their habitats overlap with human settlements.

7. Reproduction:

The reproductive behavior of the Asiatic golden cat (Catopuma temminckii) involves key aspects of courtship, mating, and raising offspring. Here are some details about the reproductive behavior of the species:

(i) Limited Knowledge in the Wild:

Much of the information about the reproductive behavior of Asiatic golden cats comes from observations in captivity, as studying them in the wild poses significant challenges due to their elusive nature.

(ii) Sexual Maturity:

Female Asiatic golden cats reach sexual maturity between 18 and 24 months, while males mature at 24 months.

(iii) Estrus Cycle:

Females come into estrus approximately every 39 days. During this time, they leave markings and exhibit behaviors to attract males, including adopting receptive postures.

(iv) Mating Behavior:

During mating, the male seizes the skin of the female's neck with his teeth. This behavior is a common mating strategy observed in many cat species.

(v) Gestation Period:

The gestation period for the Asiatic golden cat is 78 to 80 days.

(vi) Litter Size and Birth:

  • The female gives birth in a sheltered place to a litter of one to three kittens.
  • Kittens are born with a weight of 220 to 250 grams (7.8 to 8.8 ounces).

(vii) Rapid Growth:

Despite their small size at birth, kittens triple in size over the first eight weeks of life.

(vii) Coat Pattern and Eyesight:

Kittens are born with the adult coat pattern, and their eyes open after six to twelve days.

8. Lifespan:

In captivity, Asiatic golden cats (Catopuma temminckii) can live for up to twenty years. However, the lifespan of these cats in the wild is not as well-documented, and it can be influenced by various factors, including environmental conditions, availability of prey, and potential threats.

In the wild, the lifespan of most wild cat species tends to be shorter than their counterparts in captivity. The challenges of predation, competition for resources, and other natural factors can impact their survival.

9. Local Names:

Asian Golden Cat common name?/Asian Golden Cat common name in India?

The Asiatic golden cat (Catopuma temminckii) is known by various local names in the regions where it is found. These names often reflect the cultural and linguistic diversity of the areas. Here are some of the local names for the Asiatic golden cat:

(i) India:

  • Shonali biral

(ii) China:

  • Rock Cat or Yellow Leopard
  • Inky Leopards (for those with black fur)
  • Sesame Leopards (for those with spotted coats)

(iii) Thailand:

  • Seua fai (เสือไฟ) - "Fire Tiger", 
  • “Fire Cat”
  • Kang kude (คางคูด)

(iv) Burma:

  •  “Fire Cat”

Asiatic Golden Cat in India (Asian Golden Cat Distribution)

The Asiatic golden cat is found in a wide geographic range, spanning from eastern Nepal, northeastern India, and Bhutan to Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, southern China, Malaysia, and Sumatra.

The Asiatic golden cat (Catopuma temminckii) is found in various regions of India, particularly in the northeastern and eastern parts of the country. 

1. Geographic Range in India:

The Asiatic golden cat is known to inhabit the Himalayan foothills and the northeastern states of India. States where it is reported to be present include Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and parts of West Bengal.

2. Recorded Locations:

Asiatic golden cats have been recorded in different parts of India, demonstrating their adaptability to diverse ecological conditions.

In Sikkim, it has been recorded in Khangchendzonga National Park at elevations up to 3,960 m.

In Buxa Tiger Reserve in West Bengal, it was recorded in wet hill forests at elevations of 1,025 and 1,355 m.

In Assam's Manas National Park, it has been recorded in open grasslands.

The Khasi hills of Meghalaya, Mizoram's Dampa Tiger Reserve, and various locations in Arunachal Pradesh, including Talley Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Pakke Tiger Reserve, Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, and Singchung-Bugun Village Community Reserve, have also reported the presence of Asiatic golden cats.

Asiatic Golden Cat Protection Status

The Asiatic golden cat (Catopuma temminckii) has the following protection status:

1. IUCN Status:

The Asiatic golden cat is classified as "Near Threatened" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. This designation indicates that the species faces a risk of becoming endangered if conservation measures are not implemented.


The Asiatic golden cat (Pardofelis temminckii) is included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Appendix I includes species that are threatened with extinction, and trade in specimens of these species is generally prohibited.

3. Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (India):

In India, the Asiatic golden cat is listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Schedule I includes species that receive the highest level of legal protection, and offenses related to these species are subjected to stringent penalties. This legal status emphasizes the need for conservation efforts to ensure the survival of the species in India.

Importance of Asian Golden Cat

Why is it important to save the Asian Golden Cat?

The Asiatic golden cat (Pardofelis temminckii) plays a significant ecological role in its natural habitat, and its conservation is important for several reasons:

1. Biodiversity Conservation:

The Asiatic golden cat is part of the rich biodiversity in the ecosystems it inhabits. Its presence contributes to the overall diversity of species, helping maintain the health and balance of these ecosystems.

2. Top Predator in Its Range:

As a carnivorous predator, the Asiatic golden cat helps regulate prey populations, preventing overgrazing and ensuring a balance within the food web. It plays a crucial role in maintaining the ecological integrity of its habitat.

3. Indicator of Ecosystem Health:

The presence and well-being of the Asiatic golden cat can serve as an indicator of the overall health of the ecosystems it inhabits. Changes in its population or behavior may reflect broader environmental changes or threats.

4. Cultural Significance:

The Asiatic golden cat holds cultural significance in various regions where it is found. Local communities may have myths, legends, or traditional beliefs associated with this species, contributing to the cultural heritage of the area.

5. Tourism and Education:

Protected areas that are home to the Asiatic golden cat can attract eco-tourism. Viewing opportunities and educational programs centered around this elusive cat can raise awareness about the importance of wildlife conservation and generate revenue for local communities.

6. Conservation of Biodiversity Hotspots:

The Asiatic golden cat is often found in biodiversity hotspots, areas with high levels of species richness and endemism. Protecting the habitat of the Asiatic golden cat contributes to the conservation of these critical regions.

7. Genetic Diversity:

The species contributes to the genetic diversity within its own population and the broader gene pool of wild cats. Maintaining genetic diversity is crucial for the long-term adaptability and survival of the species.

8. Research and Scientific Understanding:

Studying the Asiatic golden cat provides insights into the ecology, behavior, and adaptations of this species. Scientific research contributes to a better understanding of the role it plays in ecosystems and informs conservation strategies.

9. Conservation of Forest Ecosystems:

The Asiatic golden cat's habitat preferences include various types of forests. Conservation efforts for this species contribute to the protection and preservation of these forest ecosystems, which, in turn, benefits numerous other plant and animal species.

10. Global Conservation Efforts:

The Asiatic golden cat is part of global conservation efforts to protect endangered and threatened species. Its inclusion in international agreements and conventions, such as CITES, emphasizes the need for collaborative action to ensure its survival.

In summary, the Asiatic golden cat is a crucial component of its ecosystems, and its conservation is integral to maintaining biodiversity, preserving cultural heritage, and supporting the overall health of the natural world.


The Asiatic golden cat (Pardofelis temminckii) faces various threats in its natural habitat, contributing to its "Near Threatened" conservation status. Some of the significant threats to the Asiatic golden cat include:

1. Habitat Loss and Fragmentation:

Deforestation and habitat destruction due to logging, agriculture, and infrastructure development lead to the loss and fragmentation of the Asiatic golden cat's habitat. This makes it challenging for the species to find suitable areas for hunting and breeding.

2. Human-Wildlife Conflict:

As human populations expand and encroach into wildlife habitats, conflicts between humans and Asiatic golden cats may arise. These conflicts can result in retaliatory killings or capture of the cats, particularly if they are perceived as threats to livestock or human safety.

3. Poaching and Illegal Trade:

The Asiatic golden cat is threatened by poaching for its beautiful fur, bones, and other body parts, which are sometimes traded illegally. The demand for exotic pets and traditional medicinal products further contributes to the illegal trade threat.

4. Prey Depletion:

Declines in prey species due to hunting or habitat loss can impact the Asiatic golden cat's ability to find sufficient food. This may lead to increased competition with other predators and affect the overall health and survival of the species.

5. Climate Change:

Climate change can impact the distribution of habitats and prey species, affecting the Asiatic golden cat's ability to adapt. Changes in temperature, precipitation patterns, and the frequency of extreme weather events may pose additional challenges.

6. Lack of Conservation Awareness:

Limited awareness about the importance of conserving the Asiatic golden cat and its role in maintaining ecosystem balance can hinder conservation efforts. Public education and community engagement are crucial for fostering a culture of conservation.

7. Fragmented Populations:

Habitat fragmentation can lead to isolated populations of Asiatic golden cats. Small, fragmented populations are more vulnerable to genetic issues, diseases, and local extinctions.

8. Limited Legal Protection:

In some regions, legal protections for the Asiatic golden cat may be insufficient or not effectively enforced. Strengthening and enforcing wildlife protection laws are essential for the species' conservation.

9. Lack of Research and Data:

The elusive nature of the Asiatic golden cat makes it challenging to study in the wild. Limited data on its behavior, population dynamics, and ecological requirements can hinder effective conservation planning.

Addressing these threats requires a combination of conservation strategies, including habitat preservation, anti-poaching efforts, community involvement, and international collaboration. Conservation initiatives should consider the complex interactions between the Asiatic golden cat and its environment to develop sustainable and effective conservation measures.

Asiatic Golden Cat UPSC Questions

Q. Where are Asian Golden Cat found?

A. The Asiatic golden cat (Pardofelis temminckii) is found in various countries across Asia. Its range spans from the eastern Himalayas to Southeast Asia. Here is a list of countries where the Asiatic golden cat is known to be found:

1. Nepal: Recorded in the eastern Himalayas.

2. India: Found in northeastern states such as Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, and West Bengal.

3. Bhutan: Recorded in Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park.

4. Bangladesh: Present in some regions.

5. China: Recorded in protected areas in the Qinling and Minshan Mountains.

6. Myanmar (Burma): Recorded in Hkakaborazi National Park and hill forests of Karen State.

7. Thailand: Found in various regions, with different local names such as "Seua fai" ("fire tiger").

8. Cambodia: Limited information is available about its status in Cambodia.

9. Laos: Inhabits bamboo regrowth, scrub, and degraded forests from the Mekong plains to at least 1,100 m.

10. Vietnam: Recorded in some regions.

11. Malaysia: Found in Peninsular Malaysia.

12. Indonesia: Recorded in Sumatra, particularly in national parks like Kerinci Seblat, Gunung Leuser, and Bukit Barisan Selatan.

It's important to note that the Asiatic golden cat has a wide distribution, but its population is fragmented, and it may inhabit various types of forests, including tropical rainforests, deciduous forests, and montane forests. The species is known for its adaptability to diverse environments within its range. 

Q. What is the status of the Asiatic golden cat?/Is the Asian golden cat endangered?

A. The Asiatic golden cat (Catopuma temminckii) is classified as "Near Threatened" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. The "Near Threatened" designation indicates that the species is at risk of becoming endangered if conservation actions are not taken to address the identified threats. The primary threats to the Asiatic golden cat include habitat loss, fragmentation, poaching, and human-wildlife conflicts.

Q. How many Asian Golden Cats are left in the world?

A. Specific population figures for the Asiatic golden cat not readily available. Estimating the exact number of Asiatic golden cats in the wild is challenging due to their elusive nature and the vast, often remote, habitats they inhabit. Population assessments for this species are not as comprehensive as for some more well-studied big cat species.

Q. What is the relative of an Asian Golden Cat?

A. The Asiatic golden cat (Catopuma temminckii) belongs to the Felidae family and the genus Catopuma. It is in the same genus as the bay cat (Catopuma badia). These two species, Asiatic golden cat and bay cat, are the only members of the Catopuma genus.

Q. What is the Asian Golden Cat kingdom?

A. The Asiatic golden cat (Catopuma temminckii) belongs to the Animalia kingdom. The taxonomic classification of living organisms, including animals, begins with the kingdom level, and in the case of the Asiatic golden cat, it falls under the broader kingdom Animalia. This kingdom encompasses a vast diversity of multicellular, eukaryotic organisms that are characterized by their ability to move during at least some stage of their life cycle and typically exhibit complex behaviors. The Animalia kingdom includes a wide array of species, ranging from insects to mammals, and it forms one of the major branches in the tree of life.

Q. What class is the Asian Golden Cat in?

A. The Asiatic golden cat (Catopuma temminckii) belongs to the class Mammalia. The class Mammalia includes all mammals, which are characterized by certain shared features such as having mammary glands that produce milk for nourishing their young, possessing hair or fur at some point in their lives, and giving birth to live offspring. Mammals are a diverse group that includes a wide range of species, from small rodents to large marine mammals and, of course, the various species of wild cats like the Asiatic golden cat.

Q. What is the scientific name of golden cat?

A. The scientific name of the golden cat, specifically the Asiatic golden cat, is Catopuma temminckii. Each part of the scientific name has a specific meaning:

Genus: Catopuma - This genus includes small and medium-sized wild cats, and the Asiatic golden cat and the bay cat are the two species within this genus.

Species: temminckii - The species name "temminckii" is in honor of Coenraad Jacob Temminck, a Dutch zoologist who made significant contributions to the field of zoology and natural history in the 19th century.

So, the full scientific name Catopuma temminckii is used to uniquely identify and classify the Asiatic golden cat within the biological taxonomy system.

Asiatic Golden Cat

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