People likely domesticated house cats thousands of years ago for rodent control. But, even after all these years, it’s interesting that cats are still considered only semi-domesticated, whereas dogs are fully domesticated. The differences between large cats of prey and house cats are fewer than you might think. All cats are equipped with the same skeletal, dental, and circulatory structures. So physiologically, they are virtually the same.
The main difference, according to a 2014 study by the National Academy of Sciences, is that a house kitty’s personality traits are less aggressive and more prone to tolerate its human caretaker. But in some of the pictures here, you’ll see that big cats can be super affectionate too. These adorable photos are proof of the similarities between wildcats and your kitty at home.
Like it or not, it’s bath time for this little tiger cub. Iris, an Amur tigress, is taking good care of her little one. The cub is just seven weeks old, born in August of 2011.
It was the cub’s first visit to an open-air cage. They both live at the Royev Ruchey zoo in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. What an adorable picture!
Out on a Limb
All cats are great climbers. Once they scramble to the highest point, on the other hand, their skill level plummets. There is a reason firemen are known for rescuing pet cats from trees. Big cats get trapped in trees, too, just as our wayward mountain lion has. Yet trees are an ideal place for napping, stalking prey, or devouring the latest kill without having to share it with scavengers.
Only cheetahs cannot climb trees. As the only cat without fully retractable claws, their semi-retractable nails are not made for climbing. But they are made for sprinting. Cheetahs are the world's fastest animal, hitting top speeds of 75 mph. Interestingly, the cheetah is also the only wildcat that can purr but not roar.
This tiger looks happy enough, lapping up some food from a monk's bowl. Tiger Temple, located in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, doesn’t have a stellar reputation. It’s true that Thai monks have taken in rescue tigers, but, unfortunately, it has been to exploit the creatures. Asians have a deep and long-held respect for tigers, and Tiger Temple charges an admission fee to see them.
Based on a report of the care the animals received, 39 groups, including the Humane Society International and the WWF, sent a letter urging the National Parks of Thailand to take a stand against the treatment of the tigers. Tiger Temple is accused of mistreating the beasts. Tiger Temple was also accused of secret illegal breeding. In 2016, the Thailand Wildlife Conservation Office began shutting down the facility and investigating it for alleged wildlife smuggling.
There’s Something About a Christmas Tree Cat’s Cannot Resist
Kitty cats become obsessed as soon as a Christmas tree is placed within his territory - sorry - your home. Whether it’s the ornaments or having a bit of nature inside, the tree can serve as anything from a new climbing structure to endless entertainment.
Guess what! Big cats are just as obsessed over conical-shaped pine trees. In fact, the folks over at Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jacksonville, Florida, love to provide their lions, tigers, and other big cats with seasonal toys. Drop off your Christmas tree, if you’re in the area, and make a big cat very happy. It’s a great way to recycle your tree!
King of the Wheelbarrow
Cats are territorial. The king of the beasts in this photo looks fairly set on commanding this great and mighty green machine. On the other hand, zoo ground crews may never again retrieve their wheelbarrow.
If you've had a kitty, it's pretty obvious that your sweet little feline gravitates to high places. From the top of the stairs, or from a secure vantage on the landing, we sometimes see our pet cats studiously observing the action downstairs. In the wild, cats will head up to high places such as trees to hide and prey.
Cats Love to Play
This stunning white tiger named Zabu simply adores its big red ball. In any other situation, Zabu is a fearful and ferocious beast. But here she is playfully romping around with her favorite toy. Just like house cats, fierce wildcats like this tiger don't want to miss out on playtime.
The heavy-weight ball that endures Zabu's playful bites and scratches is actually a stall ball. Stall balls are designed for horses. Horses like to play too!
This curious cheetah couldn’t believe his luck when a cardboard box ended up in his confinement at a Manhattan zoo. The cheetah sauntered over to take a look at the recent addition to its territory. Of course, the big kitty rubbed its face all over the box, leaving scent markers to make it his property. Incidentally, cats will also use scratching to mark property in an effort to keep other cats away.
When the large cat began exploring the new toy, sniffing it all over and checking out its various dimensions, something surprising happened! The curious cheetah slipped its head into the small opening at the bottom of the box, and it got stuck! Lifting its head, the box raised off the ground. Like a boxy helmet without a lens shield, the cheetah wandered around blind and humiliated. Thankfully, the shameful moment lasted only seconds.
Boxes, Boxes, and More Boxes
Here’s another caracal. This one is hiding its gracefully blackened ear tufts while it takes a nice leisurely nap. All cats love to conceal themselves inside undisclosed locations.They also prefer to stay snug. Cats require a warmer temperature.
The National Research Council determined that the thermoneutral zone for cats is between 86 to 97 degrees. Cats are most comfortable being super cozy, as if it was not obvious enough. Boxes provide a lot of insulation. The area inside a box is a perfect way for cats to preserve body heat and be insulated on all sides.
Siberian Tiger Celebrates Snowy Day
Julian is one of six Amur tigers held at the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo. Amur tigers, better known as Siberian tigers, are covered with thick, warm fur coats. These animals also have over-sized paws that help them trek through snowy terrain.
Julian is one of the most playful tigers at the Bronx Zoo. Besides rolling around in the snow, he enjoys frolicking in the mud. This magnificent beast is always the dirtiest tiger in the bunch! Julian was five years old in this 2016 picture. He weighs 360 pounds. Amur tigers are the world's largest big cat. These creatures naturally roam the Russian Far East all the way to China.
Rare White Lions in Captivity
This lion couple looks rather content. In 2015, the majestic cats gave birth to four white lion cubs. It’s a rare event when rare breeds in captivity produce healthy offspring. The all-male cubs were named Hank, Harrison, Oliver, and Gus. The four brothers were sent to a zoo in Quebec by early 2017.
Mama lion, Makali, lay here next to Fintan. They became proud parents on September 26, 2015. The cubs were slowly introduced to dad and living as a pride.
Okay, fine, they’re called cubs, but these four Indochinese tigers are as cute as kittens, especially as they’re pictured in that adorable picnic basket. I can imagine they love to chew and scratch at it too.
These cubs were born at the Tierpark zoo in Berlin. Indochinese tigers are from Southeast Asia. Most of the population lives in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and southwestern China. Since 2018, the Indochinese tiger has been considered critically endangered. The Indochinese tiger is now extinct in Cambodia, and, according to 2011 figures, the total population is only about 350.
How is it possible for a wildcat cub to look even more loving and adorable than a house kitty? (That is, when they decide to give you the time of day.) The zoo attendant must take very good care of this sweet, young leopard. Leopards are beautiful animals. Their spots are called rosettes because they look like a rosebud.
Black leopards have spots, but they are not visible, and that’s why they are called panthers. Leopards and panthers are known to hunt from trees, dropping in on their prey. Female leopards mate year-round. The cubs generally stay with mama for two years before going off to live on their own.
The King of the Beasts Playing with a Cat Toy
This is not something we usually see. We usually observe lions out in the wild, wandering the Serengeti. We don’t see cat toys lying around the desert plain. True, these large beasts like to play with their dead prey, just the way our kitties at home bat around a dead bird or mouse, as if regretting it’s dead and the end of playtime.
But here’s a toy that is not going anywhere. Chained to a tree, this lion will get plenty of playtime out of the dangling ball. Look at him go after it! He’ll play with it until he gets bored of it, as cats often do.
All Cats Love a Good Box
Place a box in a cat's environment, and it will be noticed. It’s something new and exciting. The box will not only become part of the cat’s territory, but the cat will step inside and squeeze on in, if necessary. Boxes are good for cats. A 2014 study showed cats given boxes exhibit fewer stress behaviors.
The insulation boxes provide give extra warmth and a cozy place to curl up in. It is exactly what cats adore. Just look at this magnificent jaguar contently resting inside a large produce box. Cats also use boxes as a place to hide, another trait indigenous to cats. Mikel Delgado, a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, told Inverse magazine in 2017, “I think the box might give the cat a sense of concealment while they’re waiting to see if a mouse or small prey item might come along.” She thinks that cats like the option of stalking behind cover.
Cats Love Cardboard
Boxes are like toys to cats, as well as resting places. If the box gets flattened while an oversized cat attempts to ease into it, so much the better. Now there’s a cushy blanket to rest on. The cat, no matter if it’s a large cat of prey or a domestic house cat, will rub its scent glands on the cardboard to mark its territory. Pheromones are excreted from the glands on the sides of their face and around the mouth as they rub against the cardboard. When your kitty rubs against your ankles, yes, they are marking you as territory.
Since cats of all kinds love to nap, a piece of cardboard like the one this tiger is conked out on is a great find. Cats spend most of their day resting. On average, they sleep about 12 to 16 hours per day. It is part of cats’ predatory instinct to sleep so much. Sleeping is how they conserve energy for the high-energy demands of hunting. In general, cats live on a feed-rest-hunt cycle. After a large feed, they will lay down and rest for hours.
No Cat Can Resist a Roll of Toilet Paper
Why is it that no cat can walk away from a roll of tissue paper? Big cats don't purr and little cats can't roar, but all cats will revel in shredding a roll of toilet paper.
At Big Cat Rescue, employees left rolls of toilet paper inside of an enclosure. The results were nothing short of internet click-bait. Interned at Big Cat were bobcats, lynxes, servals, and ocelots. Each cat displayed the same reaction. Each swiped at the rolls until nothing was left but mounds of torn white pieces. What’s cuter than wild cats playing like kittens?
Big Cat organizations that care for and rehabilitate wildcats will sometimes give the beasts treats and toys for mental stimulation. This white tiger is certainly relishing its treat. As a bonus, cat caretakers will insert a chunk of meat inside the pumpkin as an even more delightful treat. It’s fun to watch the cat try to figure out where the scent of delicacy is coming from.
When the cats first find the pumpkin, they will kick it around like a ball and begin to check it out. Their mouths are so large that a tiger can pick up and carry an entire pumpkin with its powerful jaws.
The King of the Beasts Poses for a Picture
If you have a cat at home, you may have noticed it will occasionally drop to the floor and roll around, rubbing its back against the carpet. And if you can easily interpret cat language, you would know that your cat is feeling relaxed, safe, and secure, and is quite possibly asking for a little affection.
Big cats are no different. And doesn’t he look sweet? Albeit, choosing to give a playful rub to 600 pounds of muscle, talon-like claws, and razor-sharp sabers may not seem as inviting as petting a little house kitty.
Big Cats Love Water
Kitty cats at home are not only repelled by water, but they loathe getting wet. If you put one in water, the expression of incredulous mortification he shoots back at you will cause a spat of guilt that may last days. Big cats, on the other hand, relish a swim. Big cats also swim after prey and use it as a mode of travel. Here we have two caracals splish-splashing in a kiddie pool.
Caracals are one of the most dramatic and beautiful wildcats. Also known as the desert lynx, they are beige in color and have a tuft of black on the tips of their ears. A zookeeper recorded these two playing in the water. On the video, it showed big cats flicking their paws, spraying water in every direction, just like little house kitty cats do.
Big Cat Foot Rubs
Here's a lion looking for a little attention. You see the way he's on his back, signaling to the zookeeper that he's ready for his foot massage? Alex Larenty, a British zookeeper who cares for Jamu in a lion park outside of Johannesburg, South Africa, says Jamu has total trust in him.
“Trust me, though, you need to know what you are doing, and our relationship is one that has built up over the last six years.” Larenty adds, “Jamu won’t just let anyone touch him the way I do.” Perhaps you recognize Jamu? The 550-pound cat stars in a British TV show called 'Wild at Heart' on ITV.
The Annual Weigh-In
Here's Heidi standing tall, reaching the 6-foot mark on the large ruler she is standing next to. Heidi is an Asiatic lion who lives at the London Zoo. Her height and weight are being recorded. The zoo shares the statistics they gather at the annual event with zoos all over the world.
Heidi is eight years old. She was born in 2011. She’s a talker. So, if you hear some roaring, it’s probably her. She's also the most motherly of her female littermates and likes to groom the other females.
Stalk and Pounce
Stalking and pouncing are part of every cat’s predatory instinct. The hunting instinct is very strong, and it is similar in every feline. Since cats are inveterate nappers who conserve energy, they will sit and stare at their prey (or toy) for hours, sometimes, before moving in on it. Cats do not want to exert a lot of energy chasing their prey. They want to get into the perfect position and pounce on it in one fell swoop.
Kittens, at just nine weeks old, have mastered the characteristic pounce. All cats will settle into their back legs before commencing the leaping pounce, wiggle their rear ends in preparation. As funny or cute as it looks, this preemptive wiggle is crucial to making the leap successful. Knowing your cat’s natural behavior can make playtime more fun.
Rusty the Lynx
This fabulous Siberian lynx also just adored discovering the box, climbing right in, and wasting no time before making it his personal napping zone. Stephen Zawistowski, science adviser for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, explained to Business Insider, “Cats like boxes because they are cryptic animals; they like to hide. And a box gives them a place of safety and security.”
Rusty the lynx gives us the perfect example. His contented visage has inspired a popular meme based on a cat-human species called Khajit. Meme-lovers love to laugh at the caption, “Khajit has wares if you have coin.”
'Will You Give Me Milk if I Stand?'
If you look at the photo closely, you’ll see a small carton of milk in the zookeeper’s hands. The tiger is looking at it intently with his mouth open to increase its sense of smell. All cats do this. Inside a cat’s mouth is an additional olfactory organ which allows the cat to taste-smell the environment.
All kitties can stand, just like this tiger. It makes them appear larger when warding off a threat. Notice how it makes the tiger as tall as the zookeeper. But it is also a sign of playfulness and a way to get attention. This tiger is clearly hoping to get the attention of that carton of milk. House cats will stand to receive a treat, and that is exactly what this massive feline is doing.
How comfortable and relaxed does this enormous tiger look? Sprawled across this chaise lounge, he clearly has claimed the best seat in the house. Short of a sibling, I can’t imagine anyone who would contest the 200-pound beast's cushy lair. It looks like he wants a belly rub, too.
At home, a house cat might try to claim the best couch too. Cats tend to take over the furniture. But at least with a house cat, it's an even contest.
'Excuse Me, May I Sit Here?'
“No!!” screams the sea lion. He knows he has the best perch in the place, and he does not look favorable to moving. It’s the perfect place. The sea lion was just basking in the warm sun quite contentedly before the land lion, Kumari, decided to get a piece of it.
The brave sea lion impressed the lioness with its fortitude so much, that they are now great friends. They live together on an animal sanctuary in South Africa.
I'm Feeling Boxed In
Cats are confident, majestic, in-charge animals. They always land on their feet. Cats rarely misjudge jumps or attacks. This snow leopard, we can only assume, is absolutely mortified. He must be indignant that its box would do such a thing to him as get stuck on his head.
Luckily for this playful leopard, the box was shaken off soon enough. Who knows if he’ll go after a box again after this incident! Although, with their legendary curiosity, he will probably try to conquer that box once more someday.
A Cougar at Play
Unlike all the other big cats, cougars cannot roar. And, like the little cats, cougars purr. Despite the differences, cougars love to play, just like cats of all sizes.
The trick is finding a toy large and durable enough for a wildcat to play with. The folks at Big Cat Rescue brought all kinds of toys in for all kinds of big cats to play with.
Christmas at the Toronto Zoo
Santa did not forget about these snow leopards at the Toronto Zoo! Ena, Kita, and Mylo were good all year, and we enjoyed watching them rip into their Christmas present. The zoo said it was an enrichment gift as part of its 2018 “12 Days of Enrichment” program. Many other zoo animals were included in the festivities.
Cats are curious! And these snow leopards were very curious about the Christmas present sitting in the middle of their territory.
Sleepy Snow Leopard
Awww! Here’s a two-week-old snow leopard hiding out in a blue bucket on the day of his first vet exam at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington. At the first exam, zoo vets reported that the cub was female. Upon closer examination, the second visit found a surprise! The young cub was determined to be male, according to the Woodland Park Zoo blog. The community voted to name him Aibek. It means, “will live for many moons” or long-living.
Snow leopards originate from the high mountain ranges of Central Asia and Russia. Populations of the striking wildcat are endangered, with fewer than 8,000 snow leopards roaming wild. In their native habitat, these beautiful beasts are often hunted for their fur and bones, which tribes use in traditional medicines. They also get killed by herders while preying on livestock.
All Cats Love Catnip
Actually, not all cats love catnip. Though, the plant, Nepeta cataria, also called catmint, is coveted by many cats. About 30 percent of cats aren’t interested in the herb, but those that are have a wild reaction. Once they find the catnip, they may get very playful, roll around in it, lick it up, become euphoric, and they may even look drugged-out. After about 15 to 20 minutes of enthusiasm, the thrill wears off, and they will take a nice, long snooze.
Big Cat Rescue decided to do a little experiment to see if big cats like catnip too. The crew placed catnip inside paper bags and threw it over the fence to the ferocious felines. The response was clear. Some of the wildcats took to the catnip with abandon, and a few of the cats were uninterested. Pictured here is Alex resting after a nice romp through the catnip. The cats who relished the treat behaved just like house cats, rolling around, acting ecstatic, and very happy.
Do Big Cats Like Laser Pointers Too?
We all know, whether by personal experience or by watching LOL cats on social media, that kitties cannot resist a laser beam. Big Cat Rescue conducted a little experiment with its big cats in captivity to see how they reacted. At night, when it was dark enough to see the laser beam, they recorded a video of the cats responding to it. Susan Bass from Big Cat Rescue said, “They have to chase it.” Adding, “You can go up a wall, under things, like I do with my cat.”
The cat pictured here absolutely loved the laser pointer. Just like an average house cat, it doggedly went after the dot of light as vigorously as it would a mouse. But did all the big cats in captivity responds as playfully? Not exactly.
This cheetah does not look like a happy kitty. In general, cats abhor rides in the car. Her expression seems to concur, despite the fact she got shotgun. But we wonder, is this cheetah named Sara not terribly irritated that she must be inside of a vehicle that she can easily outrun?
Just so you know, Sara broke the 100-meter sprint record at just over six seconds in 2009. She's the fastest animal on earth. We have to hand it to this lady for being insanely brave. We've dealt with angry cats in cars before, and to avoid getting clawed while driving, we put the ball of fluff and shards in a box. Sara is getting transported to the Cat Ambassador Program, where it will be on display for local school children. Perhaps there lies the trepidation.
A Thank You Kiss
Apparently, tigers love milk. This zookeeper just poured the contents of the milk carton into the enormous cat's mouth as it sat standing. What's more amazing is that the zookeeper allowed the beast to lick his face. Tiger's tongues contain rows of spikes called papillae. The barbs are scratchy enough to lick paint off of a wall or to lick through hides of animals they kill. Tigers use them to scour feathers off of birds!
After a few licks on human skin, the papillae will usually draw blood. Don’t let a tiger lick you! If you are afraid he will eat you unless you allow him to lick you, stare him right in the eyes. Direct eye contact makes it less likely a tiger will attack you. On the upside, tigers' tongues excrete antiseptic saliva. So, if you do get licked raw, at least your wound won't get infected.
Are Tigers More Affectionate than House Cats?
Tigers are arguably the most fearsome of all the big cats. They are larger than almost every wildcat in the world and can weigh in at well over 600 pounds. Its large dense body, ripped with pure muscle and electrified by intimidating and vibrant stripes, horrifies human imagination. Gazing into a tiger’s eyes is as terrifying as it is mesmerizing.
So, what is going on with this tigress? She is lying on her back, indicating she’s feeling safe and relaxed while getting a belly rub from a human. She looks content. Animal behaviorist Louis Dorfman says tigers are one of the most emotional big cats. He also said that their emotional range makes them unbelievably affectionate.
Playtime with a Box
Here we have Andre and Arthur, who were happily surprised to find a new object inside their cage. After playfully checking it out, rolling it around, and going in and out of it, the massive cats began chewing it up. (Fluffy, at home, only dreams she could chew so much damage into one of these human contraptions.)
Big Cat Rescue is responsible for bringing us these adorable images. The group, located in Tampa, Florida, is a non-profit educational sanctuary that is accredited and non-breeding.
The Best Bed in the House
This fantastic black panther has claimed the coziest section of its zoo confinement. Just chilling out at Lincoln Park Zoo, with its tail cascading over its luxury box bed and its alert eyes reflecting some light, this guy looks purr-fectly content.
If you're in the area, Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago is a great place to visit. It's one of the oldest zoos in North America, it was founded way back in 1868, just years after the Civil War ended. This zoo is one of the very few zoos in the U.S that offers free admission. One more reason to check it out.
The sitting position is common to cats. They have powerful hind legs and a great sense of balance, so sitting upright comes naturally. They used the position to reach things like a treat. They also prop themselves up on their hind-legs to get a better look around.
They try to appear more fearful to threaten a predator by standing tall. Cats can even stand upright on two back paws if they need some more height.