Seriously, I can't.
If you take anything away from Tiger King, let it be this: Carole Baskin’s, “Hey all you cool cats and kittens” is the greeting of the year, the men of the big cat world are up to no good, and most importantly, baby cats are and will always be incredibly cute! We are riding the cat-craze, rounding up the cutest-cats around the world.
From your own backyard to a jungle far from here, these are the world’s cutest wild kittens.
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Andean Mountain Cat
WHERE: South America
This rare mountain cat found in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina is as unique as it is elusive. Because the cat has been so difficult to spot, with only 10 recorded sightings in the last 25 years, studying them has been, let’s just say, difficult. Scientists spent years going back and forth on its genus, and little is known about how the creature behaves in the wild, with much of the original research based on furs, not observations.
As scientists have continued their research and observations, they’ve found that the Andean Mountain cat, though elusive, is also endangered. These hard-to-find cuties have only one cub per liter, and groups are spread far and wide in order to assure food security—the two not boding well for the creature’s longevity. While this cat might be cute, it’s also one we need to keep an extra eye on!
The clouded leopard can be found in the rainforests of Indonesia and in the Nepali Himalayas, though your chances of actually spotting one are quite slim. Similar to the Andean Mountain cat, this breed of cat is incredibly rare and difficult to spot in the wild. Because of its elusiveness, this is another kitty we don’t know a ton about—but here’s what we do know. Cloud leopards are incredible climbers (perhaps even the best)–they have the ability to hang upside down, for god’s sake. And we also know that a female clouded leopard gives birth to five cubs a year—hello, cute babies!
For those wanting a chance at spotting the clouded leopard, you could: 1) head to Asia where you would have the world’s slimmest chance of seeing one, or you could 2) head to the San Diego Zoo (or it’s livecams while it’s closed), which currently houses two. If you choose the latter, you’d get the chance to see them up-close and hear what researches have learned about these exceptionally mysterious cats.
Though the African lion once roamed all of Africa (hence the name), as well as parts of Asia and Europe, this cat can now only be found in sub-Sahara Africa. Unlike other cats, lions live in groups called “prides.” These prides vary in size, from just a family and its cubs to up to 40 different lions. Because the prides need space to hunt and food security, they tend to keep to themselves. While food scarcity can affect it, this lion’s biggest adversary is the human. If spotting an African lion in the wild is on your bucket list, make sure you’re choosing a company that strives to ensure the creatures’ safety. Though getting up-close and personal might be the dream, taking them in from afar tends to be what’s best for them!
Servals are a medium-sized wild cat living in the savannas of Africa, often found in the tall-grasses near streams. You can spot a serval by their big ears—a defining characteristic that makes them incredible hunters. In addition to having particularly large ears, they also have long necks, earning them the nickname “giraffe cat.” Like most cats, servals tend to live alone—once the kittens are born, the dad heads out, allowing the mother to raise her offspring. Though many wildcats are endangered, or at least heading that way, the serval continues to do well!
While this may just look like your standard house cat, it’s best advised to not approach it in the wild (though you aren’t its ideal meal). The European wildcat tends to prey on small creatures but has also been known to hunt for young deer. Unlike big cats, which attract poachers interested in their fur, this cat tends to be considered “vermin” throughout Europe. This, as well as development that has led to the destruction of ecosystems, has resulted in the species’ decline. While the species is not yet considered endangered, the number is continuing to wane. These seemingly giant house cats could use some extra love–vermin no more!
Chinese Mountain Cat
This cat might closely resemble the previous European Wildcat, but the two are different. The Chinese mountain cat is found on the northeast edge of the Tibetan Plateau. These cats are relatively inactive during the day, resting in burrows until sundown, which is when they do the bulk of their hunting. The main threat to this cat is not animals stalking them as prey, but poisoning-campaigns which, though aimed at smaller pests, kill these cats in large numbers as they ingest those smaller poisoned animals.
Say hello to the fastest land animal! The cheetah, which is found throughout eastern and southwestern Africa, can go zero to 60 in a mere three seconds. Though a cheetah cub might not be that quick, that will not stop them from joining their mother for hunting practice. Unlike Chinese mountain cats, cheetahs hunt during the day, their sight and speed being their most useful assets.
Because cheetahs are considered endangered in most parts of Africa, spotting them is not an easy feat. For your best chance, you’ll want to try a safari through either Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Angola, Mozambique, or Zambia. This area is where the largest single population of cheetah lives.
WHERE: North America
As their name indicates, Canada lynxes can be found in Canada, but the species can also be seen in certain parts of the United States, like Washington. This cat is mid-sized, and unlike a cheetah, not incredibly fast—instead, they rely on stealth and patience.
The Canada lynx is considered the most endangered feline in North America, with fewer than 50 found in Washington State. Logging and deforestation have been the main causes of their decline, with their ideal home being a cold, wet, often times snowy forest.
The tiger is the largest Asian cat which, unlike most we’ve looked at today, is actually seeing an increase in its population! In India, Nepal, Bhutan, Russia, and China, their populations are either stable or increasing. Something that makes tiger incredibly unique is their ability to swim. While most cats can swim, a good majority simply choose not to, but tigers oftentimes escape to the water for a cool down or to cross over to a new stretch of land.
Fun fact: These baby cats are all 10/10 cute!