Distribution

Cats are found the world over, with the exception of Australia, the polar regions, and some oceanic islands where they are usually considered a serious pest. However, domestic cats have been introduced to almost all places settled by humans, including Australia and other islands. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to eight cat species, including the largest populations of lion, cheetah, and leopard (P. pardus). These big cats are also found in North Africa and southwest Asia, along with five other species, but their distribution has declined dramatically in this region, and only small, isolated populations remain. Tropical Asia is home to 12 species, including tiger (P. tigris), clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), leopard, and a range of small cats adapted to jungle habitats. Eurasia has seven species, including snow leopard (Uncia uncia), lynx (Lynx lynx), and Iberian lynx (L. pardinus), but their populations are also

A female African lion (Panthera leo) drinks from a water hole. (Photo by David M. Maylen III. Reproduced by permission.)
An adult male lion (Panthera leo) eats an elephant's trunk. (Photo by Harald Schütz. Reproduced by permission.)

under severe pressure. Cats are well represented in the Americas, with a dozen species, including jaguar (P. onca), puma (Puma concolor), and Canada lynx (L. canadensis).

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