Leopard cats are about the size of a domestic cat, but more slender with longer legs and well-defined webs between the toes. Their small head is marked with two prominent dark stripes, their short and narrow muzzle white. There are two dark stripes running from the eyes to the ears, and smaller white streaks running from the eyes to the nose. The backs of their moderately long and rounded ears are black with a central white spot. Body and limbs are marked with black spots of varying size and color, and along the back are two to four rows of elongated spots. The tail is about half the size of their head-body-length and spotted with a few indistinct rings near the black tip. The background color of their spotted fur is tawny with a white chest and belly. But in their huge range, they vary so much in coloration and size of spots as well as in body size and weight that initially they were thought to be several different species. The fur color is yellowish brown in the southern populations, but pale silver-grey in the northern ones. The black markings may be spotted, rosetted, or even forming dotted streaks, depending on the subspecies. In the tropics, leopard cats weigh 0.55 to 3.8 kg (1.2 to 8.4 lb), have a head-body-length of 38.8 to 66 cm (15.3 to 26 in) with a 17.2 to 31 cm (6.8 to 12 in) long tail. In northern China and Siberia, they weigh up to 7.1 kg (16 lb), and have a head-body-length of up to 75 cm (30 in); generally, they put on weight before winter and become thinner until spring. Shoulder height is about 41 cm (16 in).
Photographer: B Williams