In scientific classification (taxonomy) the Tiger (Panthera tigris) belongs to the big cat genus Panthera within the subfamily Pantherinae of the Felidae cat family.

The levels of classification for a Tiger are:

    • Kingdom: Animalia (animals)
    • Phylum: Chordata (vertebrates)
    • Class: Mammalia (mammals)
    • Order: Carnivora (carnivores)
    • Suborder: Feliformia (cat-like)
    • Family: Felidae (cats)
    • Subfamily: Pantherinae (big cats)
    • Genus: Panthera (big cats)
    • Species: Panthera tigris (tiger)
    • Subspecies:
      • P.t. tigris
      • P.t. sondaica

Note: The scientific name for the Tiger species, Panthera tigris, is also known as the binomial name, species name, latin name, biological name and zoological name. Some use the term 'botanical name' however that is only applicable to the plant kingdom (botany) and not the animal kingdom (zoology).

Classification Chart

This Tiger classification chart shows where the Tiger fits into the Felidae family and in particular the Panthera genus:

Tiger (Panthera tigris) Classification Chart
Click chart to download.
Permission to use for personal or educational use.

Subspecies (Lower Classifications)

The last Felidae taxonomy revision in 2017 proposed only two subspecies of Tigers based on comprehensive genetic studies:

  1. Panthera tigris tigris - Mainland : larger size, paler coat with fewer stripes
  2. Panthera tigris sondaica - Sumatra : smaller size, darker coat with more stripes

The 2022 Tiger Red List assessment has discontinued the previous subspecies assessments and states that the Tiger subspecies are still under review.

Prior to 2017, six extant* Tiger subspecies (or lower classifications) were described and evaluated in the Red List assessment in 2014 and three subspecies had already gone extinct:

Critically Endangered (CR)

  • South China Tiger Panthera tigris amoyensis
  • Malayan Tiger Panthera tigris jacksoni
  • Sumatran Tiger Panthera tigris sumatrae

Endangered (EN)

  • Amur / Siberian Tiger Panthera tigris altaica
  • Indochinese Tiger Panthera tigris corbetti
  • Bengal Tiger Panthera tigris tigris

Extinct (EX)

  • Bali Tiger Panthera tigris balica
  • Javan Tiger Panthera tigris sondaica
  • Caspian Tiger Panthera tigris virgata

*extant = still in existence

Taxonomy Papers since 2017

Here is a list of papers published on Tiger taxonomy since the last Felidae classification revision in 2017:

Liu, Yue-Chen, et al. "Genome-wide evolutionary analysis of natural history and adaptation in the world’s tigers." Current Biology 28.23 (2018): 3840-3849.

  • Amur Tiger (P. t. altaica): Russian Far East and northeastern China
  • Northern Indochinese Tiger (P. t. corbetti): Indochina north of the Malayan Peninsula
  • Malayan Tiger (P. t. jacksoni): Peninsular Malaysia
  • Sumatran Tiger (P. t. sumatrae): Sumatra
  • Bengal Tiger (P. t. tigris): Indian sub-continent
  • South China Tiger (P. t. amoyensis): possibly extinct

Article about the paper: Genome-wide study confirms there are six tiger subspecies by on 25 October 2018

Du, Hairong, et al. "New Evidence of Tiger Subspecies Differentiation and Environmental Adaptation: Comparison of the Whole Genomes of the Amur Tiger and the South China Tiger." Animals 12.14 (2022): 1817.

Tiger Subspecies Distribution Map 2017
Tiger subspecies map (2017) by AmazingSpaghetti [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons


Here is a list of papers published on Tigers. Click on the title bar to view the abstract and the link to the article.

View more articles on Panthera tigris in the IUCN Cat Specialist Group database (scroll down once the library page is loaded to see the list).

Consider joining the Friends of the Cat Specialist Group to access the full articles and receive their journal Cat News covering the latest wild cat research.


The global conservation status for Tigers is Endangered (EN) and populations continue to decline.

Tigers are the largest of all the wild cats, yet they are also the most endangered and some populations have already gone extinct. In spite of many conservation programs it is estimated the Tiger population has declined by over 95% in the past 100 years, primarily due to illicit poaching and habitat loss caused by ever increasing human populations.

The following global organizations are fighting to conserve our iconic Tigers: - Tigers Forever - Tiger Conservation Facts pdf

Wild Cats Conservation Alliance

Wildlife Conservation Society

World Wildlife Fund WWF

Please support these organizations with their important work if you can. No matter the size of your contribution, every bit helps!

Panthera Genus Big Cat Chart
Panthera Genus Chart by Wild Cat Family
Click chart to download.
Permission to use for personal or educational use.

Facts and Information

Besides being the largest of the big cats, Tigers have a unique coat pattern of only stripes. Other cats may have stripes on parts of their coats but their markings will also include spots, rosettes or blotches.

The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on Tigers:

Key Facts about Tigers

~ Largest wild cat species ~

~ Striped coat pattern ~

~ Highly endangered ~

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