International Society For Endangered Cats

A Voice For The Wild Cats of the World

A Thought About Cat Camouflage

By Jackie Kerrison
camoflauge patterns on a serval

The Serval seems to be a cat that got into line more than once when they were handing out camouflage. Camouflage refers to coat colors and markings that help a cat hide in their most common terrain, so they hunt more effectively – and for small cats, so they can hide more effectively.  This also explains why wild cat kits often have spots that vanish as they get older.

I often reflect on the way that many cats living in the same type of territory will have similar camouflage patterns but I’m more surprised by the variations.

For Example, the tiger has stripes and shares habitat with:

  •     Asiatic Golden Cats, which are pretty much solid-colored on the back (some Northern cats do have spots)
  •     Clouded Leopards (they’re very splotchy)
  •     Jungle Cats (they’re colored a lot like a coyote and are fairly solid-colored)

Just look at this picture:  The Serval is quite the ‘variation’, all by itself.  Spots AND stripes…..  Servals live, preferably, within long-grass savannahs (the stripes) but also take to the trees as needed (the spots).  Hmmm, it does make sense after all.

But then there are those ears.  All the better to hear you with my dear!  Servals have one of the highest hunting success rates of all the wild cats.  Wonder why?

Just some things I think about now and then.

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2 responses to “A Thought About Cat Camouflage

  1. Jen Dowdy November 6, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    I don’t know exactly the answer to the question about serval success rates of hunting, but I do know that there seems to be a trend where small cats have overall better success rates than larger cats.

    • Felids November 7, 2012 at 11:29 am

      If you count just the number of prey species caught then yes, the small cats are the leaders. It takes a LOT more small rodents to make a meal than one large, hard to catch wildebeest that will feed a pride for many days!

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