Big Cat Guide for Kids

9 Things to Know About Big Cats

lion big cats

While they share a very distant relative, these huge cats are not quite like your family pets. These massive predators often rule their respective kingdoms, stalking their prey cleverly and efficiently.

There’s a lot to learn about these amazing creatures, so here are 9 things you should know about the big cats.

  1. The big cat label has only technically been given to a few.
Although there are many types of larger cats in the wild, the ‘big cat’ label has been appointed to five different breeds of large cats, namely: lion, tiger, jaguar, leopard, and snow leopard. Cougars and cheetahs are strangely enough more related to domesticated cats.

  1. Not all big cats can roar.
Only jaguars, leopards, lions, and tigers have the ability to roar. However, big cats like cheetahs purr instead. Those with roaring abilities have a ligament instead of a bone in their voice box. This ligament can be stretched which allows for a larger sound-producing passage, which means a more expansive range of sound. The more this ligament stretches, the lower and louder the roar.

  1. Big cats can be found almost all around the world.
Big cats have found homes across many continents including Africa, Asia, North America & South America. Antarctica, Oceania and Europe are the only continents where big cats aren’t found in the wild.

  1. Big cat numbers are in decline.
Due to the unfortunate influence of poachers and the black market, the big cat population has been dramatically declining over the last few decades. Wild tiger numbers have plummeted by 95% and Africa’s lion population has decreased by 90% in the last 75 years. It’s really sad to see the effect of unethical human greed on our wildlife, but fortunately, there are organizations that are making a difference.

  1. Only one-in-twenty jaguars are born in all black fur.
Despite common depiction, jaguars are often confused to be leopards because of their similar spotted coat. It is fairly rare for them to have an all-black coat. The main difference between a jaguar and a leopard is that a jaguar has a larger head and more powerful jaw.

  1. The only big cat with a tasseled tail is the lion.
Although male lions are known for their enormous shaggy mane, both male and female lions are different from other big cats because of a tassel at the end of their tails. These fluffy ends of the tail tend to grow on cubs when they’re about 7 months old. These tassels are useful for a few different reasons; to communicate with each other when hunting, and to lead each other through the sometimes long grass of the Savannah plains.

  1. The cheetah is the undisputed Ferrari of the animal kingdom.
The famous cheetah is most well-known for its incredible speed. In short sprints, the cheetah can get up to 70 to 75 miles per hour, which makes it the world's fastest land animal. It can also go from 0 to about 62 miles per hour in a span of three seconds!

  1. The only big cat that lives in a group is the lion.
African lions are often found in groups of 15 to 20. These groups are called ‘prides’, which are ruled over by a male, while female lions do the hunting. They sleep during the day and hunt in groups at night on the African Savannah.

  1. Big cats have some similar behavior traits to domestic cats.
Like house cats, big cats also rub their faces against objects to mark their territory. So instead of a couch, it may be a tree! Big cats also like to sleep a lot, much like their smaller cousins. In fact, male lions, for example, can sleep 18-20 hours a day!

Big cats are pretty amazing creatures, and they need your help! You can do your bit by supporting a charity that does work to prevent big cat numbers declining further.