Clouded leopards are one of the most ancient cat species, living in Southeast Asia's cloud forests. They are neither a true great nor a true small cat, however, because they are unable to roar. These medium-sized cats, named after the cloud-shaped patterns on their skin, prefer rain forests but can also be found in Southeast Asia's drier forests.
• The clouded leopard ranges from Nepal, Bangladesh, and Assam (eastern India) to Sumatra and Borneo in Indochina, and northeastward to southern China and formerly Taiwan. Despite the fact that their numbers are thought to be lower outside of protected areas, Borneo's populations are probably the healthiest due to the absence of tigers and leopards.
• Until 2006, the clouded leopard was thought to be a single species. Recent genetic and morphological research, however, has revealed the existence of two distinct species. The cats of mainland Asia and Taiwan were given the name Neofelis nebulosa, while those of Borneo and Sumatra were given the name Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi).
• They've been spotted as high as 9,000 feet in the Himalayan foothills, but they're usually only found up to 6,000 feet.
• Clouded leopards have a hyoid bone, which allows them to purr like small cats but prevents them from roaring.
similar to other large cats
• Their ankle joints are flexible, allowing them to rotate their hind feet. Clouded leopards can descend trees headfirst like squirrels thanks to this adaptation. The margay is the only other cat that can do this.
• Among all cats, the clouded leopard is one of the most arboreal. As they leap from branch to branch, their long tail provides balance.
• Clouded leopards, despite their name, are not a leopard species. Because of their rarity, clouded leopards are classified as a separate genus, Neofelis. They are thought to act as a “bridge” between big cats (lions, tigers, etc.) and small cats (puma, lynx, ocelot, etc).
• They have highly developed binocular vision, resulting in extremely accurate 3-D vision, which aids them in determining the distance to prey while hunting in the tree canopy. They have a tapetum lucidum, a mirror-like layer in the back of the eye that reflects light back through the eye, allowing them to see six times better at night than humans.
• They are also protected from larger predators such as tigers and leopards due to their arboreal lifestyle.
• Clouded leopards have the longest canine teeth of any cat species when compared to their body size. Unlike most cats, clouded leopards kill by biting the back of the neck rather than the throat, which causes suffocation.
• In their forest habitat, the clouded leopard's distinctive coloration and cloudlike spot pattern provide excellent camouflage.
• They are classified as "vulnerable" by the IUCN. The decline of clouded leopards is primarily due to habitat loss caused by deforestation for agriculture. Their beautiful pelts are hunted, and their bones, claws, and teeth are used in traditional Asian medicine. These lovely cats can also be found on the menus of Asian restaurants.
• Because of the high incidence of aggression between males and females, clouded leopards are difficult to breed in captivity.
• The clouded leopard has an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years, though they can live up to 17 years in captivity.