The evolution of the Felidae cat family began about 25 million years ago. These ancient cats evolved into the eight main lineages of the Felidae cat family tree, with most modern cats appearing in the past five million years.

Felidae Family Tree

The eight lineages of the Felidae family in order of evolutionary age are:

Felidae Lineage Felidae Genera
Subfamily Pantherinae
1. Panthera lineage  Panthera, Neofelis
Subfamily Felinae
2. Bay cat lineage  Pardofelis, Catopuma
3. Caracal lineage  Leptailurus, Caracal
4. Ocelot / Leopardus lineage  Leopardus
5. Lynx lineage  Lynx
6. Puma lineage  Puma, Acinonyx, Herpailurus
7. Leopard Cat lineage  Prionailurus, Otocolobus
8. Domestic Cat / Felis lineage  Felis


Felidae Family Tree
Felidae Family Tree
Source: O’Brien, J. S. and Johnson, W. E. (2007). The evolution of cats. Scientific American July 2007: 68-75.


Note: The current classification (2016) describes 38 species by listing the Chinese Mountain Cat Felis bieti as a separate species.

Wild Cat List by Lineage.pdf