The 3 Cats of the Caracal Lineage

The Caracal lineage consists of three medium sized cats occurring predominantly in Africa; two species in the Caracal genus and one in the Leptailurus genus.
All three species predate on similar prey, however each cat occupies a different habitat thus reducing competition.
The Caracal lineage is the third oldest lineage of the Felidae family and diverged at 8.5 MYA (million years ago). This was during the first ice age of 8 to 10 MYA, when ancestors crossed the land bridges at the Red Sea from Asia to Africa and evolved into three mid-sized cat species.
Download Caracal lineage images.


Caracal Lineage Classification

Wild Cats of Africa Poster - Big Cats of Africa Poster
Wild Cats of Africa by Roger Hall
View Wild Cats of Africa Print

In scientific classification (taxonomy) the medium-sized African wild cats of the Caracal lineage belong to the cat family Felidae and the small cat subfamily Felinae. The higher and lower classifications of this group are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia   (animals)

Phylum: Chordata   (vertebrates)

Class: Mammalia   (mammals)

Order: Carnivora   (carnivores)

Suborder: Feliformia   (cat-like)

Family: Felidae   (cats)

Subfamily: Felinae   (small cats)

Genus: Caracal

Species: Caracal caracal (Caracal)

Species: Caracal aurata (African Golden Cat)

Genus: Leptailurus

Species: Leptailurus serval (Serval)


Video Clips Taken in the Wild

Caracal Videos
ARKive video - Caracal stalking guineafowl
Serval Videos
ARKive video - Servals catching and eating Abdim's storks
African Golden Cat Videos
ARKive video - Camera trap footage of a wild African golden cat

Wild Cat CourseCaracal Lineage Cat Quiz

Click through on the images, videos and fact sheets above to find the answers to this quiz. Good luck!

1. On which continent do all three cats occur?

2. Which cats only occur on that continent and nowhere else (‘endemic’)?

3. Which cat has round pupils in contrast to most small cats that have vertical pupils?

4. What is similar about all these three cats?

5. Which cat is often confused with cheetah and leopards?

6. Which cat has only recently been studied in its natural habitat?

7. Which cat is often bred in first world countries for the exotic pet market?

More about this group of medium-sized African cats.

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