List of Big Cats

Big cats” is a term commonly used in reference to large wild cats.  The list of big cats below includes the different types of big cats worldwide, from tigers (the largest big cats) to clouded leopards (the smallest big cats). You will also find species info, common and scientific names and links to more big cat information, articles, news, pictures and research.

Click on the cat’s name for more information about each species, as well as photos, research, videos, news and groups involved in big cat conservation.

For a list of small wild cats, click here. For a combined, concise list of big cats and small wild cats, without photos, scientific names or descriptions, click here.

The Big Cats Species – Biological Classification

Big cats, small wild cats and domestic cats are members of the felidae family, which is a biological classification.  A member of the felidae family is called a felid.  There are two sub-families of felidae, the Pantherinae and the Felinae.  (There was once a third family, the Machairodontinae, also known as the saber-toothed cats.) 

Felids came into existence on this planet 25 million years ago.  The various species once roamed throughout the word in large numbers.  Today, many face extinction due to habitat loss and poaching.

Read more about big cat biological classification

Big Cats - An Endangered Species

Big cat populations are declining all over the planet due to illegal wildlife trade, hunting, poaching, habitat loss and the loss of prey. Many big cats are listed as CRITICALLY ENDANGERED or ENDANGERED on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Read more about endangered big cats…

The Big Cats List


cheetah picturesThe world’s fastest land animal.  Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubalus) once ranged throughout India, Pakistan, Russia, Iran and the Middle East, but due to diminishing populations, most cheetahs can only be found in the eastern and southern parts of Africa. Today there are less than 10,000 cheetah’s left in the world.  Find groups working on cheetah conservation..  IUCN Red List of Endangered Species: Vulnerable.

Cheetah Subspecies

                            • Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus):
                            • Northwest African cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus hecki)
                            • Eastern Africa cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus raineyii)
                            • Southern Africa cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus jubatus)
                            • Central Africa cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus soemmeringii)

Clouded Leopard

clouded leopard pictureThe clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) is found in Asia, from the Himalayas (Nepal and India) to China. Physical characteristics include a dark grey fur with black spots, blotches and mottled stripes.  There are two living subspecies of clouded leopard (the third subspecies, Neofelis nebulosa brachyura is considered extinct.): Find groups working on clouded leopard conservation.

 Clouded Leopard Subspecies

                            • Neofelis nebulosa nebulosa
                            • Neofelis nebulosa macrosceloides
                            • Neofelis nebulosa brachyuran (Now considered extinct)


cougar picturesAlso called the puma, mountain lion, Florida panther, red tiger and catamount.  Over 30 subspecies of cougar  (Puma concolor) have been documented. Six subspecies have been recognized. Found throughout the Americas.  Find groups working on cougar conservationIUCN Red List of Endangered Species: Least Concern.

Cougar Subspecies

                            • North American cougar (P. c. couguar)
                            • Northern South American cougar (P. c. concolor)
                            • Southern South American puma (P. c. puma)
                            • Argentine puma (Puma concolor cabrerae)
                            • Costa Rican cougar (P. c. costaricensis)
                            • Easter South American cougar (P. c. anthonyi)



jaguar picturesJaguars (Panthera onca) roam throughout Central and South America in forests located near rivers and lakes. They are very similar in appearance to leopards, but generally larger. There are several subspecies of jaguar. Find groups working on jaguar conservationIUCN Red List of Endangered Species: Near Threatened.

Jaguar Subspecies

                            • Mexican jaguar (Panthera. o. hernandesii)
                              • Centeral American jaguar (Panthera. o. centralis)
                              • Arizonan jaguar (Panthera. o. arizonensis)
                              • Central Texas to Southeastern Mexico jaguar (Panthera o. veraecrucis)
                              • Goldman’s jaguar (Panthera o. goldmani) (Yucatan/Belize/Guatamala
                            • Panthera onca onca (Venezuela/Amazon) Panthera onca palustris (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay)
                              • Peruvian jaguar (Panthera o. peruviana)


leopard picturesFound worldwide in habitats across Africa, India, Asia, the Middle East and Malay peninsula. Leopard subspecies include the Persian leopard, the Arabian , the Sri Lankan leopard and the Javan leopard.  Find groups working on leopard conservationIUCN Red List of Endangered Species: Threatened.

Leopard Subspecies

                            • Indian leopard (Panthera p. fusca)
                            • African leopard (Panthera p. pardus)
                            • Javan leopard (Panthera p. melas)
                            • Arabian leopard (Panthera. p. nimr)
                            • North Chinese leopard (Panthera. p. japonensis)
                            • Persian leopard (Panthera. p. saxicolor)
                            • Sri Lankan leopard (Panthera. p. kotiya)
                            • Indochinese leopard (Panthera. p. delacouri)
                            • Anatolian leopard (Panthera p. tulliana)
                            • Balochistan leopard (Panthera. p. sindica)
                            • Amur Leopard (Panthera p. orientalis) Also known as the Far Eastern leopard, Korean leopard and Manchurian leopard) One of big cats - the amur leopardthe rarest big cats and dangerously close to extinction, with less than 30 Amur leopards left in the wild.  Named for the Amur River located in eastern Mongolia.  IUCN Red List of Endangered Species: Critically Endangered.


lion pictureThe lion (Panthera leo) once roamed throughout southeastern Europe, the Middle East and parts of India. While a small population still remains in India, the species now occupies habitats in various parts of Africa.  Find groups working on lion conservationIUCN Red List of Endangered Species: Endangered.

Lion Subspecies

                            • Asiatic lion (Panthera l. persica) -  also called the Gir lion, Indian lion, Persian lion, Eurasian lion. The Asiatic lion is only found in Gujarat, a state in India. This highly endangered species was almost hunted to extinction. Only 13 lions existed in 1907 when an Indian prince banned hunting the cats. There are currently less than 500 Asiatic lions in existence.
                            • West African lion (Panthera l. senegalensis)
                            • Congo lion (Panthera l. azandica)
                            • East African lion (Panthera l. nubica) (Masai lion)
                            • Southwest African lion (Panthera l. bleyenberghi) (Katanga lion)
                            • Southeast African lion (Panthera l. krugeri) (Transvaal lion)
                            • Barbary lion (Panthera l. leo) (EXTINCT)
                            • Cape lion (Panthera l. melanochaita) (EXTINCT)

Snow Leopard

snow leopard picturesThe snow leopard is nearly extinct, with remaining populations located in the mountains of Asia.  Find groups working on snow leopard conservation. IUCN Red List of Endangered Species: Endangered.

Sunda Clouded Leopard

sunda bornean clouded leopard pictureThe Sunda Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi), also called the Sundaland clouded leopard is found in Sumatra and Borneo.  Studies show a continuing decrease in population.  The leopard’s local name means “tree branch tiger.”  Photo credit: Spencer Wright (North Walsham, England). Find groups working on Sunda clouded leopard conservation.


tiger picturesThe tiger (Panthera tigris) is the largest of all big cats. Less than 3,200 tigers exist in the wild today. At one time, there were 9 subspecies. Three subspecies are now extinct. Find groups working on tiger conservationIUCN Red List of Endangered Species: Endangered.

Tiger Subspecies

                            • Indochinese tiger (Panthera t. corbetti)
                            • Bengal tiger (Panthera t. tigris)
                            • Sumatran tiger (Panthera t. sumatrae)
                            • Malayan tiger (Panthera t. jacksoni)
                            • South China tiger (Panthera t. amoyensis)
                            • Bali tiger (EXTINCT) (Panthera t. balica)
                            • Javan tiger (EXTINCT) (Panthera t. sondaica)
                            • Caspian tiger (EXTINCT) (Panthera t. virgata)


Big Cats by Region


Cheetahs, leopards and lions.


Asiatic cheetahs, Amur leopards, Sunda clouded leopards, clouded leopards, Asiatic lions, snow leopards and tigers.

North America, Central America and South America

Cougars, jaguars (in Spanish – león and tigres)




List of Big Cats — 9 Comments

  1. Life without the cats is impossible regardless their size!
    I love cats and i always try to protect them even when the people consider them as a pest!
    i hope one day we all get to the realisations that our nature without the cats charm and intelligent is going to be the boring palace to be, i dont like to see the life without them.
    I am willing to do anything to save the cats special the big ones.


  2. Thank you Matty! Many of the groups in this directory have volunteer opportunities. Find one and connect! You can also let us know about any wild cat conservation projects you are working on, and we will post the news.

  3. I love big cats and when I go to college I want to be a wild animal trainer! They are so sweet and loveable!:)

  4. I have been studying these amazing animals my whole life I feel so frustrated that I can’t be actively involved in saving them other than raising awareness any ideas

  5. Hi Susan,

    Whatever you have done in support of wild cats and wild cat conservation has been of value. It may not seem like it at times, but every action is important. I also understand what you are saying about wanting to do more than raise awareness.

    The idea behind awareness campaigns is to bring attention to a problem or situation so that it can be fixed. Sometimes a lot of attention is needed before a solution is found or an issue is resolved.

    The wild cat petitions we have on our site (Ban the Lion Trade, Save the Siberian Tiger and Ban the Import of Lion, Tiger and other Wild Animal Body Parts) are from We promote these petitions because they are a way for people to take action. AVAAZ waits for the exact right moment to use their petitions to help change political views, public policy and laws. The more signatures each petition gets, the better chance they have of making a positive impact on the issue being addressed. How can you help AVAAZ and the work they are doing? Send out petition links to your family and friends. Use Twitter and social media to get the word out about their campaigns. Keep track of the campaign yourself to see how many signatures are being collected and what action AVAAZ is taking.

    Is there a particular type of wild cat you are interested in, or a conservation issue that concerns you the most? There are many organizations in our directory that focus on specific cats or conservation problems. Find one and send them an email. Ask them how you can be of help.

    Do you want to help influence U.S. laws regarding wild cats? A new federal law has been proposed called the “Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act.” People have been killed or injured by big cats kept as pets. The cats are often badly treated, live in terrible conditions and end up being confiscated by local authorities or killed. If passed, the new law would stop big cat private ownership. Anyone who supports the “Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act” is being asked to email, write or call their legislators. The Roar Foundation has more information about the law, as well as a link to a site where you can find your government representative by zip code.

    Most importantly, whatever you decide to do, please know that it will have an impact and make a difference.

    D. Rose

  6. Thank you for creating this site!!!!!!
    I am only young (12 yrs old) but I have loved big cats for as long as I can remember. I think it’s tragic that they are being killed off and I thank you so much for raising awareness and taking action against this. It frustrates me that I can’t do much to help, and so I’m glad when I see people like you taking a stand.
    Thank you!

  7. Hi Kate,

    I am glad you like the site – and that you love and care about the big cats! I wanted to do something to help wild cats as well. That’s how the site got started. I am also sure you have done more to help than you realize. Just telling people about the big cats and what is happening to them is taking a stand. So thank you for what you are doing too!

    D. Rose

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