With long snouts, small ears and webbed feet, the flat-headed cat is among the weirdest looking felines around. That doesn’t stop them from being all kinds of adorable, especially when they’re spotted washing food and other objects in water like eager little racoons.
If there was a prize for the most epic ear tufts, it would surely go to the caracal—its name is even derived from a Turkish word that means black ear. Caracals are also powerful hunters who are particularly adept at leaping, capable of knocking up to 12 birds out of the air in a single bound.
Habitat loss means that the once common kodkod is now relatively rare in its home of Central America. To make matters worse, the cats are treated as pests due to their reputation for preying on domestic birds. Folk tales about kodkods being vampires that drain the blood of their prey don’t help much.
Pallas’s cats, also known as manuls, are almost too cute to be real. They have short legs, black stripes and amusingly grumpy faces. Their incredibly fluffy coats are the longest and densest of any cat, changing from grey in winter to an almost-golden colour during summer months.
The jaguarundi’s short legs, otter-like tail and unmarked coat make it one of the most distinguishable wildcats. Central American natives have historically used the species to control rodent populations around their villages.
These miniature mogs are the tiniest of all wildcats. They’re excellent diggers, easily uncovering hidden prey from beneath the desert sand. Due to their docile personalities, sand cats have sadly become an easy target for illegal pet traders.
Perfectly adapted to life in forests, Margays are able to run headfirst down trees like squirrels and hang from branches with a single foot. Their enchantingly huge eyes come in pretty handy when it comes to seeing in the dark.
Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. Take these magnificent moggies, for example. From the high-jumping caracal to the quick-digging sand cat, here are the small cats who prove that size isn’t everything.