Leopard cat. Image: Rhett A. Butler

Tiger, lion, leopard – these are some of the big cats we love and celebrate.

But did you know that there are more than 30 species of small wild cats spread over five continents? Have you heard of the Geoffroy’s cat, the kodkod (güiña), the clouded leopard, or the Pallas’s cat?

These cats may not be as flashy or well understood as their bigger relatives, but they are still important for healthy ecosystems and for us. Maybe someday you will lead a small cat research or conservation project or find other ways to help protect these furry friends!

Learn some reasons why small wild cats are important

Conversation drivers

  1. Why should we care about small wild cats? What role do they play in nature?
  2. Small cats sometimes come into conflict with humans, such as by hunting chickens. But small cats also help humans. Discuss two or more ways that small cats benefit us.
  3. Are there any small wild cats that live in your local area or country? And what are the conservation challenges they face?
  4. Why do you think it is hard for researchers to study small cats? Name two or three reasons.
  5. Do you think that small cats are less charismatic or interesting than big cats like tigers and lions? What are some ways we can spread awareness about the importance of small wild cats?

Get to know some small wild cats

Panthera.org: learn more about small cats

Credit: Panthera

More resources for parents and educators

Read these articles from Mongabay.com to learn more about the ecological value of small cats and some of the conservation challenges they face.