Marbled Cat

MARBLED CAT (Pardofelis marmorata)

The marbled cat has the longest tail in relation to its body length out of any wild cat, making it extremely well adapted for climbing trees. They probably do most of their hunting above ground even being able to descend down trees head first. The marbled cats in Borneo may in the future even be considered a separate species from the marbled cats found more north.

Difficulty: Very Difficult

Marbled Cat Description

Marbled cats are the height of a domestic cat, but are significantly longer, mostly due to its very long tail, which is as long as the rest of its body, and sometimes even longer. Their weight is similar to that of a domestic cat at up to 5kg (11 lbs). It has a small, rounded head with rounded ears. Like the cats tail, its large paws aid it while climbing through the tree canopy. Its coat pattern is similar to that of the Sunda clouded leopard with slightly more solid spotting. When walking the cat often looks like it is hunched over, with its back higher in the air than the rest of its body.

The long tail and slightly arched posture of marbled cats is perfectly exemplified by this beautiful cat in Borneo

Marbled Cat Distribution and Habitat

Marbled cats are found from Nepal through China and into Sumatra and Borneo. They stick to forested habitats including deciduous, evergreen, and tropical rainforest. In Borneo, they prefer the lowland tropical rainforests covering most of the island. They are also found in secondary and selectively logged forests but are not found in oil palm plantations. On a smaller scale, marbled cats probably prefer to stick to climbing and hunting in the trees, rather than moving around on the ground, though they may do so to cover ground faster.

Marbled cats can move through Borneo's jungle canopy with extreme ease.

Marbled Cat Feeding Biology

Marbled cat feeding ecology is not very well known, though based on their morphological adaptions it is assumed that they do most of their hunting in trees. Their diet is probably mostly comprised of arboreal and to a lesser extend terrestrial rodents, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. They are definitely also capable of killing prey larger than themselves, but evidence of this has not been confirmed. When the cats are active is also still unclear and may be cathemeral (active day and night).

Arboreal mammals like this cream-colored giant squirrel are prey items for marbled cats

Marbled Cat Social Organization and Reproduction

There is almost nothing known about marbled cats social ecology. They are presumed to be solitary and territorial, but since they are so hard to study we really do not know. We don’t even know what their densities are like, but it is suspected they occur at low densities. Borneo however, where we run our tour, might have some of the highest densities or marbled cats based on limited camera trap data.

Also very little is known about the reproduction of marbled cats. What we do know about it, comes from a few captive individuals. Mating probably takes place at any time of year due to their very tropical distribution. In captivity, litter size was two kittens. Sexual maturity happens at around twenty-one months for females. We do not know how long marbled cats live but in captivity they live until around 12 years of age.