Within the animal kingdom the Felidae wild cat family is classified as one of the cat-like families (Feliformia) that belong to the carnivorous group (Carnivora) of mammals.


The Felidae lower classifications are divided into two subfamilies Pantherinae and Felinae.


Felidae Higher Classification

Kingdom: Animalia   (animals)

Phylum: Chordata   (vertebrates)

Class: Mammalia   (mammals)

Order: Carnivora   (carnivores)

Suborder: Feliformia   (cat-like)

Family: Felidae   (cats)


The Felidae family is often called the true cat family to distinguish it from other families of cat-like animals - like genets and civets.

Felidae Wild Cat Family Taxonomy
The Felidae Family Classification in the Animal Kingdom.
Felidae Lower Classifications
Felidae Lower Classifications – Subfamilies Pantherinae and Felinae

Felidae Lower Classifications

The Felidae lower classifications consist of 2 subfamilies, 14 genera, 40 species and numerous subspecies.

Family: Felidae

Subfamily: Pantherinae (big cat species) - 2 genera and 7 species

Genus: Panthera

Genus: Neofelis

Subfamily: Felinae (small cat species) - 12 genera and 33 species

Genus: Acinonyx

Genus: Caracal

Genus: Catopuma

Genus: Felis

Genus: Herpailurus

Genus: Leopardus

Genus: Leptailurus

Genus: Lynx

Genus: Otocolobus

Genus: Pardofelis

Genus: Prionailurus

Genus: Puma


View the full list of Felidae genera and species.

Felidae Classification Updates

In 2015 the number of described wild cat species was 36 followed by an additional two in 2016 and then another two in 2017. This gives a current total of 40 described wild cat species.

The additional cats are not discoveries of new wild cats but a better classification of the known cats. Comprehensive DNA studies can now distinguish whether a particular subspecies should in fact be an individual species. These studies have resulted in the additional four species of wild cats that were previously classed as subspecies.

These are the Felidae classification changes since 2015:

Nov 2015: 36 wild cat species (excluding Domestic cat (Felis catus))

Nov 2016: + 2 = 38 species

  1. Chinese Mountain Cat (Felis bieti) described as a separate species in the Felis group.
  2. Oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus) split into the Northern Tiger Cat (Leopardus tigrinus) and Southern Tiger Cat (Leopardus guttulus) in the Leopardus group.

Nov 2017: + 2 = 40 species

  1. Wildcat (Felis silvestris) split into the European Wildcat (Felis silvestris) and the African-Asian Wildcat (Felis lybica) in the Felis group.
  2. Sunda Leopard Cat (Prionailurus javanensis) described as a separate species in the Leopard Cat group.

Nov 2018: No changes

Nov 2019: No changes

Nov 2020: No changes

Nov 2021: No changes

Nov 2022: No changes (Common name change African-Asiatic Wildcat to Afro-Asiatic Wildcat)

Papers proposing changes to subspecies taxonomy since the 2017 publication are listed on the individual cat pages.


Felidae List by Lineage

Book: Felids (wild cats) and Hyenas of the World
Latest book on all Wild Cats - J.R. Castello 2020
IUCN CatSG Cat Classification 2017
2017 A Revised Taxonomy of the Felidae by IUCN CatSG

Wild Cat Family References

The following three publications are the primary references used across the Wild Cat Family website. Any further references are indicated on individual pages.

Felidae Evolution and Lineages:

O’Brien, J. S. and Johnson, W. E. 2007. The Evolution of Cats. Scientific American July 2007: 68-75.


Felidae Classification / Taxonomy:

Kitchener et al. 2017. A revised taxonomy of the Felidae. The final report of the Cat Classification Task Force of the IUCN / SSC Cat Specialist Group. Cat News Special Issue 11, 80pp.


IUCN Endangered Status (reviewed annually in November):

IUCN 2021. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2021-2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. 15 Nov 2021.

IUCN 2020. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2020-2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. 16 Nov 2020.

IUCN 2019. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2019-2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. 14 Nov 2019.