Other Names
Temminck’s cat (English)
chat doré d’Asie (French)
Asiatische Goldkatze (German)
gato dorado asiatico (Spanish)
shonali biral (Bengali: Bangladesh, India)
jin mao, huang hu, zhi ma bao (Chinese)
kucing emas (Indonesia)
sua meo, sua pa (Laos)
kucing tulap, harimau anjing (Malaysia)
kya min, kyaung min (Myanmar)
hso hpai, miao thon (Shan)
sua fai [fire tiger] (Thailand)

Description and Behavior
Habitat and Distribution
Population Status
Protection Status
Principal Threats

Description and Behavior
The Asian golden cat is remarkably polymorphic in its pelage. The most common coloration is fox-red to gold-brown, but it can also be black, brown, or grey. There is a variation, thus far reported only from China, of ocelot-like rosettes and spots, which looks so unlike the plain form that some taxonomists have considered it a separate species (Weigel 1961, Leyhausen 1979). Pocock (1939a) classified the patterned form as a distinct subspecies of golden cat (C.t. tristis) from Sichuan and Tibet, but B. Tan (in litt. 1991) reports that these forms have been collected from many areas of China. Adults weigh 8.5-15 kg, with males notably larger than females (Lekagul and McNeely 1977, Tan 1984). The terminal half of the tail has a whitish streak on the underside.

Very little is known of the golden cat’s behavior and ecology. It is predominantly nocturnal (Griffiths 1993); Pham (1982) most often observed the species in northern Vietnam between 23-24:00 at night. It is believed to prey mainly on large rodents, but its diet also includes amphibians and insects (Le 1973), and probably also birds, small reptiles, and small ungulates such as muntjac and chevrotains. Golden cats have also been reported to prey on larger animals: the goral in the mountains of Sikkim, India (Biswas and Ghose 1982), wild pig and sambar deer in north Vietnam (Pham 1982) and young calves of domestic water buffalo (Pocock 1939a, Tun Yin 1967). Griffiths (1993) attributed two scats from Sumatra’s Gunung Leuser National Park to this species, containing the remains of a rat and a muntjac.

Asiatic golden cat (C.t. tristis). This photo shows a subspecies, found in China, with an "ocelot" coat pattern.
Estrus (C): average 6 days (n=2)

Estrus Cycle (C): 39 days (n=1) (Mellen 1989)

Gestation (C): average 80 days (P. Andrews in litt. 1993)

Litter Size (C): 1.11±0.11 (n=9) (Mellen 1989); range 1-3 (Guggisberg 1975, Green 1991)

Age at Sexual Maturity (C): 18-24 months - females; 2 years - males (P. Andrews in litt. 1993)

Longevity (C): up to 20 years (n=12) (Prator et al. 1988)

Habitat and Distribution
Asian golden cats are found in tropical and sub-tropical moist evergreen and dry deciduous forests, and have occasionally been reported from more open habitats, such as shrub and grassland (Pham 1982). In the Himalayas, the species has been recorded at elevations up to 3,050 m in Sikkim, India (Biswas and Ghose 1982) (Figure 8).

Population Status
Global: Category 3
Regional: Category 2
IUCN: Indeterminate

There is little specific information available. The Asian golden cat is widely reported as uncommon and threatened by deforestation (Lekagul and McNeely 1977, Biswas et al. 1985, Khan 1986, R. Salter in litt. 1989). Like the clouded leopard, it is found throughout much of south-central China, but there have been no studies. The largest skin harvests have come from Jiangxi (234 in 1980-81), Fujian, Hunan, Sichuan and Yunnan (Tan 1984, B. Tan in litt. 1991).

Protection Status
Protection Status: CITES Appendix I

National Legislation:
Fully protected over most of its range

Hunting Prohibited:
Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia (Penin.), Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam

Hunting Regulated:

No Legal Protection Outside Protected Areas:
Bhutan, Brunei

No Information:
Cambodia (Nichols et al. 1991; U. Ohn, R. Salter, C. Santiapillai in litt.)

Principal Threats
Like the clouded leopard, the golden cat is threatened primarily by deforestation, and secondarily by hunting for its pelt and bones. Livestock depredation, which usually leads to persecution, has also been reported (Prater 1971, Lekagul and McNeely 1977).

© 1996 IUCN - The World Conservation Union