The Jungle Cat is a medium-sized cat native to Asia from southern China in the east through Southeast and Central Asia to the Nile Valley in the west. It is listed as Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as it is widespread and common particularly in India. Population declines and range contraction are of concern, particularly in Egypt, in the Caucasus, and in southwestern, Central and Southeast Asia.
Geographic variation in the jungle cat is quite considerable. Due to the small tuft on the ears it is also called the jungle lynx, though it is not a member of the Lynx genus.
The jungle cat is the largest of the living Felis species. It has a small tuft on the ears, a comparatively short tail, and a distinct spinal crest. Because of its long legs, short tail and tuft on the ears, the jungle cat resembles a small lynx. The face is relatively slender. Fur color varies with subspecies, yellowish-grey to reddish-brown or tawny-grey, and is ticked with black. Vertical bars are visible on the fur of kittens, which disappear in adult cats, although a few dark markings may be retained on the limbs or tail. The muzzle is white, and the underside is paler in color than the rest of the body. Jungle cats can range from 50 to 94 cm (20 to 37 in) in length, plus a short 20 to 31 cm (7.9 to 12.2 in) tail, and stand about 36 cm (14 in) tall. Weight varies across their range from 3 to 16 kg (6.6 to 35.3 lb), with a median weight of around 8 kg (18 lb). Females are slightly smaller than males. True to Bergmann's Rule, the felid is largest at the northern limits of its range and becomes smaller-bodied closer to the tropics.
The skull is fairly broad in the region of the zygomatic arch, which leads to its appearance of having a rounder head than some other cats. The ears are quite long, and relatively broad at the base, pointed towards the end, and set quite high. Small tuft of long hairs occurs on ear tips in winter. These hairs form an indistinct tassel ranging from 7 to 20 mm (0.28 to 0.79 in) in length. The fur grows to about 4000 hairs/cm² on the back, and 1700 hairs/cm² on the abdomen, and generally becomes a shade of grayish-ochre in winter. The pawprints measure about 5×6 cm, and a typical pace is 29 to 32 cm (11 to 13 in).
Jungle cats have equal-sized claws on both fore and hind legs, which allow climbing down trees as easily as up.
They inhabit savannas, tropical dry forests and reedbeds along rivers and lakes in the lowlands, but, despite the name, are not found in rainforests. Although they are adaptable animals, being found even in dry steppe, they prefer wetland environments with tall grasses or reeds in which to hide. They do not survive well in cold climates, and are not found in areas where winter snowfall is common. They have been observed from sea levels to altitudes of 8,000 ft (2,400 m) or perhaps higher in the Himalayas. They frequent jungles or open country, and are often seen in the neighborhood of villages.
They mostly hunt for rodents, frogs, birds, hares, squirrels, juvenile wild pigs, as well as various reptiles, including turtles and snakes. Near human settlements, they feed on domestic chickens and ducks. They catch fish while diving, but mostly swim in order to disguise their scent trails, or to escape threats, such as dogs or humans.
Jungle cats are solitary in nature. They rest in other animals' abandoned burrows, tree holes, and humid coves under swamp rocks, or in areas of dense vegetation. Although often active at night, they are less nocturnal than many other cats, and in cold weather may sun themselves during the day. They have been estimated to travel between 3 and 6 kilometers (1.9 and 3.7 mi) per night, although this likely varies depending on the availability of prey. Territories are maintained by urine spraying and scent marking.
Jungle cats can climb trees. Like most cats, they use not only sight and hearing while hunting, but also their sense of smell. While running, they tend to sway from side to side. Like most other cats, they hunt by stalking and ambushing their prey, and they use reeds or tall grass as cover. They are adept at leaping, and sometimes attempt to catch birds in flight. Although they can run at up to 32 kilometers per hour (20 mph), they rarely pursue prey that escapes their initial pounce.