How many wild cats are there in the world?

There are 36 different species of wild cat in the world. The number of species of wild cats depends on how the scientists classify the species. The classification of the species is called taxonomy. Taxonomy is constantly evolving albeit less so currently.

People should recognize that at one time many wild cats that were considered separate species are now considered subspecies or not a different species at all.

The number of 36 is therefore not entirely settled and finalized. It is current. The authority for this is the respected work, Wild Cats Of The World by Mel and Fiona Sunquist.

If you would like to see photographs of all the species of wild cat you can go to this page and scroll down or select the cat that interests you.

Some wild cat species are little known even by the experts. It is little wonder therefore that people in general don't know about them.


Cats such as the African golden cat and Bay cat are very secretive and are found in forests. Not much in the way of research has been done or is being done to find out more about these wild cats.

As to the actual number of individual wild cats in the world; the answer is that we don't know. Counting wild cat numbers has been inaccurate. There is a large amount of guesswork.  The numbers in respect of certain species are miniscule compared to domestic cat numbers. 400 clouded leopards. 400 Siberian tigers. 1,400 (approx.) Bengal tigers. 500 million domestic cats.

Forgive my cynicism but more is being done to cut down the forests where these cats live than to learn more about them and protect them.

Photo of Bay cat by Jim Sanderson Ph.D. a world expert on the small cats.


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