The beautifully marked Marbled Cat (Pardofelis marmorata) is another of the secretive cats of South East Asia, that are difficult to observe and little studied.
The cat's appearance is similar to the Clouded Leopard, with blotched markings, large canines and a long tail, just smaller in size.
As are many of the tropical cats, Marbled Cats are forest dependent and thus threatened by the rapid deforestation taking place across Asia. Basic research on this wild cat's biology and ecology is needed to help inform conservation planning.
Key Facts about Marbled Cats
~ Very long, bushy tail ~
~ Blotched, 'marbled' coat pattern ~
~ Forest dependant ~
Marbled Cat (Pardofelis marmorata) Classification
The Marbled Cat belongs to the genus Pardofelis and the full taxonomy, scientific classification or higher classification of the Marbled Cat species is:
Kingdom: Animalia (animals)
Phylum: Chordata (vertebrates)
Class: Mammalia (mammals)
Order: Carnivora (carnivores)
Suborder: Feliformia (cat-like)
Family: Felidae (cats)
Subfamily: Felinae (small cats)
Species: Pardofelis marmorata (Marbled Cat)
Marbled Cat (Pardofelis marmorata) Subspecies
Two subspecies of the Marbled Cat have been described in the past and the last Felidae taxonomic revision in 2017 concurs with this. However studies showed that the distributions differ to the previous range descriptions and therefore one of the subspecies was renamed:
- Parodfelis marmorata marmorata - Borneo, Sumatra, Malay Peninsula south of the Isthmus of Kra and south Thailand
- greyer pelage with large distinct blotches
- Pardofelis marmorata longicaudata - Nepal to Assam, Bangladesh, south-east Asia north of the Isthmus of Kra
- light to dark ochreous brown, fewer blotch-like markings
- previously P.m. charltonii
Marbled Cat Conservation
The global conservation status for the Marbled Cat is Near Threatened (NT) and the population is declining.
At this time there appears to be no active projects focused on this species, however the following organizations are dedicated to research and conservation in the region and other small cats:
South East Asia Projects - Chester Zoo (UK)
Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundation SWCCF - Global small cat conservation
Please support these organizations with their important work. No matter the size of your contribution, every bit helps!
- Borneo - Borneo Wild Cat Project
Marbled Cat Facts and Information
The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on Marbled Cats:
- Marbled Cat Status and Distribution Map - IUCN Red List
- Marbled Cat Detailed Information - IUCN Cat Specialist Group
- Marbled Cat Academic Reference List - IUCN Cat Specialist Group
Marbled Cat (Pardofelis marmorata) Research
Here is a list of papers published on Marbled Cats. Click on the title bar to view the abstract and the link to the article.
We present an update on the photographic detections from camera traps and the activity patterns of Borneo's four small cats, namely, Sunda Leopard Cat (Prionailurus javanensis), Flat-headed Cat (P. planiceps), Marbled Cat (Pardofelis marmorata), and Bay Cat (Catopuma badia), at two sites in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.
Camera trap survey data of 10 years (2008-2018) from the first site in Sebangau provide details about the temporal partitioning of these small cats from each other but overlap with Sunda Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi). The activity of Flat-headed Cat was higher after midnight and that of Leopard Cat at night with no clear preference before or after midnight. The Marbled Cat is predominantly diurnal, but the remaining three cats have flexible activity periods. While limited data are available from Rungan, the second site, we confirmed the presence of all four small cat species found on Borneo, though we have insufficient data to comment on the Bay Cat.
The cat sightings, however, are intermittent and may reflect the unprotected status of this forest. Leopard Cats appear relatively unaffected by habitat disturbance based on encounter rates on camera traps. Conservationists, both NGOs and the government, must pay particular attention to specialists like Flat-headed Cats and Bay Cats when assessing habitat suitability for long-term cat conservation.
Jeffers, K.A.; Adul,; Cheyne, S.M.
Small cat surveys: 10 years of data from Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo
2019 Journal of Threatened Taxa (11): 13478-13491
Fifteen extant species of cats inhabit India, and the northeastern region of the country is among the richest with nine species. Among these are the "standard four", an assemblage of Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), Asiatic Golden Cat (Catopuma temminckii), Marbled Cat (Pardofelis marmorata), and Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), which also occur across southeastern Asia. Within India, despite several surveys in this region, very little information exists on the ecology of this assemblage to explain their co-occurrence.
In this paper, we put together data from several independent camera trapping studies over 10 sites across northeastern India to examine and interpret diel activity patterns of this group. While we present results for all the four species, we focus on two species, the Marbled Cat and Leopard Cat, which are of very similar body size and are potential competitors. We used kernel density estimates to measure diel activity patterns of all four species and overlap in activity between Marbled Cat and Leopard Cat at the regional scale as well as the point scale. We obtained 783 captures of the standard four from >27,500 trap nights.
The Asiatic Golden Cat and Marbled Cat were strongly diurnal, Clouded Leopard largely crepuscular and nocturnal, and Leopard Cat largely nocturnal. The degree of overlap between Marbled Cat and Leopard Cat activity was low and in consensus with other studies across southeastern Asia.
We interpret this as the differing niche spaces of the two cats due to their specific pre-existing adaptations, not restricted to the effects of competition. The point scale analysis when both cats are captured at the same location and separately show no shift in activity pattern, supporting our hypothesis of pre-existing differences in resources, such as food, playing a major role in facilitating co-existence. Our study, however, is preliminary and additional information with robust analysis is required to test this finding.
Mukherjee, S.; Singh, P.; Silva, A.P.; Ri, C.; Kakati, K.; Borah, B.; Tapi, T.; Kadur, S.; Choudhary, P.; Srikant, S.; Nadig, S.; Navya, R.; Björklund, M.; Ramakrishnan, U.
Activity patterns of the small and medium felid (Mammalia: Carnivora: Felidae) guild in northeastern India
2019 Journal of Threatened Taxa (11): 13432-13447
Niche differentiation, the partitioning of resources along one or more axes of a species' niche hyper-volume, is widely recognised as an important mechanism for sympatric species to reduce interspecific competition and predation risk, and thus facilitate co-existence. Resource partitioning may be facilitated by behavioural differentiation along three main niche dimensions: habitat, food and time. In this study, we investigate the extent to which these mechanisms can explain the coexistence of an assemblage of five sympatric felids in Borneo.
Using multi-scale logistic regression, we show that Bornean felids exhibit differences in both their broad and fine-scale habitat use. We calculate temporal activity patterns and overlap between these species, and present evidence for temporal separation within this felid guild. Lastly, we conducted an all-subsets logistic regression to predict the occurrence of each felid species as a function of the co-occurrence of a large number of other species and showed that Bornean felids co-occurred with a range of other species, some of which could be candidate prey.
Our study reveals apparent resource partitioning within the Bornean felid assemblage, operating along all three niche dimension axes. These results provide new insights into the ecology of these species and the broader community in which they live and also provide important information for conservation planning for this guild of predators.
Hearn, A.J.; Cushman, S.A.; Ross, J.; Goossens, B.; Hunter, L.T.B.; MacDonald, D.W.
Spatio-temporal ecology of sympatric felids on Borneo. Evidence for resource partitioning?
2018 PLoS ONE (13): 1-25
View more articles on Pardofelis marmorata in the IUCN Cat Specialist Group database (scroll down once the library page is loaded to see the list).