7 Most Endangered Feline Species in 2023: Vet Reviewed Facts (With Pictures)


Far too many species are disappearing due to human activity and interference. Feline species are not immune to becoming endangered and eventually extinct.

But it’s a good idea to be aware of the problem; otherwise, how can it ever get fixed? Here’s a list of seven of the most endangered feline species. The first two are critically endangered, which is a step before extinction.

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The 7 Endangered Feline Species

1. Amur Leopard (Critically Endangered)

Amur Leopard
Image Credit: Carol Gray, Shutterstock


The Amur Leopard is found in elevated areas in Russia and China among rugged hills, watersheds, and rocky outcrops. They can survive in a snowy, cold climate, and their habitat is based on where most of their prey, the sika deer, are present. Individual Amur Leopards tend to avoid the territories of others.


The Amur Leopard has the traditional dark-brown rosettes covering their coat, but their pale-cream fur distinguishes them from other leopards. Their coat is also heavier due to the cold climate in which they live.

Their rosettes are also unique because they are widely spaced and have thick black borders.


Amur Leopards are carnivores that are talented stalkers and can take down prey 10 times their own weight. Their main prey are the Manchurian sika deer, Ussuri wild boar, and Siberian roe deer.

They will go after smaller prey too, including mice, birds, rabbits, weasels, and badgers.

Level of Endangerment

The Amur Leopard is the most endangered big cat in the world. There haven’t been any recent counts of the Amur Leopard population, but in 2015, it was estimated that there were fewer than 60.  Conservation efforts have seen an increase, though, and it’s believed that there are currently over 100.

This is still insufficient to keep them from extinction, but a national park was created in 2012, called the Land of the Leopard National Park. It covers 2,630 square kilometers, which has helped to slowly increase their numbers. But there’s still a long way to go.

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2. Iriomote Cat (Critically Endangered)

Iriomote wild cat
Image Credit: Yudai Ogawa, Shutterstock


The Iriomote Cat can only be found in one specific region: the Iriomote Island in Japan. It contains subtropical forests and slightly elevated areas. The Iriomote Cat prefers to inhabit areas near rivers, the edge of forests, and places with low humidity levels.


Their coat is a combination of grays and browns, with a variety of dark-brown spots and stripes. They range from about 7 to 11 pounds, so they’re quite small, though Iriomotes are a subspecies of leopards.


Iriomote Cats are carnivores and eat mostly small mammals, including rats and fruit bats, as well as snakes, lizards, frogs, birds, insects, and occasionally, crabs and fish.

Level of Endangerment

There aren’t any recent numbers on the population status of the Iriomote Leopard. But as of 2007, it’s believed that there are about 100 to 109 remaining, and their numbers are declining.

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3. Andean Mountain Cat (Endangered)

Andean Mountain Cat
Image Credit: Luis D Romero, Shutterstock


The Andean Mountain Cat is found in the higher elevations of the Andes, and they can survive as high up as 1,800 meters. They can be found in the semi-arid and rocky arid areas of the Andes, though their preferred habitat is in valleys with sporadic rock walls.


The Andean Mountain Cat is an ashy-gray color with brownish spots that make up a series of lines that give the appearance of stripes. Their coat is thick and plush, and they have rounded ears. They are also quite small, about the size of a house cat at 8 to 13 pounds.


The Andean Cat eats small birds, mammals, lizards, and waterfowl. Their primary prey is the mountain viscacha, a rodent quite similar to the chinchilla.

Level of Endangerment

The last assessment of the population of the Andean Cat was in 2014, when there were 1,378 adults. That might sound like a large number compared to the Amur Leopard and Iriomote Cat, but the population is in decline. While regulations protect the cat, law enforcement in this area is challenging.

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4. Borneo Bay Cat (Endangered)


The Borneo Bay Cat is only found in Borneo, and they weren’t known to exist until one was caught in 1994. They typically live in swamps, rainforests, and lowlands and are usually spotted near rivers.


The Borneo Bay Cat is a rich chestnut color with a darker, reddish-colored tail. They have round ears with black fur and a round head, with two lines that run from their eyes to the back of their head. This small cat is about 6 to 9 pounds.


The Borneo Bay Cat eats birds, small rodents, monkeys, and carrion.

Level of Endangerment

The Borneo Bay Cat had an assessment of their population in 2014, when there were 2,200 adult cats. Their population is still on the decline.

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5. Flat-Headed Cat (Endangered)

Flat-Headed Cat
Image Credit: Signature Message, Shutterstock


The Flat-Headed Cat is found on the southern side of Peninsular, Thailand, Sumatra, Borneo, and Malaysia. They stay near coastal areas and new lowlands, typically near freshwater.


The Flat-Headed Cat has a distinctive head. They have a compressed skull, which gives their head a cylindrical shape, and their canine teeth are noticeably large (when they open their mouths).

They have thick reddish-brown fur and a white-spotted underbelly. The fur on their face is lighter than the rest of their body, and their claws are not retractable, so you can see them at all times. This small species weighs about 3 to 6 pounds.


The Flat-Headed Cat lives near water, so their main diet is fish and frogs. But they also eat birds, rodents, and fruits.

Level of Endangerment

The Flat-Headed Cat was assessed in 2014, and at that time, the population was 2,499 mature adult cats. Their population is decreasing.

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6. Iberian Lynx (Endangered)

Iberian Lynx
Image Credit: Ondrej Prosicky, Shutterstock


The Iberian Lynx were populous at one time in the Iberian Peninsula region, but now they are in southern Spain and northern Portugal. They spend most of their time in dense shrubs and open grasslands.


The Iberian Lynx has an orange-yellow coat with dark spots in different sizes. Like all lynxes, they have noticeably tufted ears. They weigh 15 to 33 pounds.


The primary prey for the Iberian Lynx is rabbits, but they will also eat young deer, ducks, and partridges when rabbits are in short supply.

Level of Endangerment

The assessments for the population of the Iberian Lynx were conducted in 2014, when there were 156 adults. But the population is on the rise.

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7. Tiger (Endangered)

a tiger walking on grass
Image Credit: YanCabrera, Pixabay


The Tiger almost doesn’t need an introduction. Their distribution is quite widespread, and they can be found in many countries, like China, India, and Russia, so their habitat is also quite diverse.


There are many subspecies of Tigers, but all are various shades of orange with striking black stripes. Tigers are the largest of all feline species and can weigh 200–660 pounds!


The sheer size of the Tiger means they need large prey. They eat everything from goats and buffalo to horses, deer, and the occasional human.

Level of Endangerment

There are nine subspecies of Tigers, but unfortunately, three are extinct. The other six are the Sumatran, Siberian (or Amur), Bengal (or Indian), South China, Malayan, and Indo-Chinese Tigers

The number of Tigers has fallen by 95% within the last century. The six surviving species of Tigers are all endangered, some more than others.

IUCN assessed all Tigers in 2021, and the numbers range from 2,608 to 3,140, and the numbers are decreasing. It’s hard to imagine a world without the Tiger.


Vulnerable Feline Species

We covered all the critically endangered and endangered feline species. The IUCN has seven categories:

  • Least Concern

  • Near Threatened

  • Vulnerable

  • Endangered

  • Critically Endangered

  • Extinct in the Wild

  • Extinct

The feline species in the vulnerable category are listed here because they are just a step away from becoming endangered:

cheetah on a log
Image Credit: Glavo, Pixabay

  • African Golden Cat: This feline is found in west and west-central Africa. The numbers are decreasing, and they are rarely seen, but IUCN does not have any specifics.

  • Black-Footed Cat: This feline is found in southern Africa, and there were 9,707 adult cats in 2014. Their numbers are decreasing.

  • Cheetah: They range widely across the African continent. In 2021, there were 6,517 adult cats, and their numbers are decreasing.

  • Chinese Mountain Cat: This feline is found primarily on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in China. Their population was 1,177–23,540 in 2021 and decreasing.

  • Clouded Leopard: This feline is found in the cloud forests of southeast Asia. In 2021, there were 3,700–5,580 cats and they are decreasing.

  • Fishing Cat: This feline is found in south and southeast Asia. IUCN doesn’t have the exact numbers but they are decreasing.

  • Guiña: This feline is found in central and southern Chile. In 2014, the population of adult cats was 5,980–92,092. They are also decreasing.

  • Leopard: This feline is found across most of Africa and parts of Asia. IUCN doesn’t have the exact numbers, but the populations of all subspecies of the Leopard family are decreasing.

  • Lion: This feline is found on the southern fringe of the Sahara to northern South Africa. The population was assessed in 2014, and there were 23,000–39,000 adults. As with the others, the Lion population is decreasing.

  • Northern Tiger Cat: This feline is found in Costa Rica and Panama, as well as South America and central Brazil. In 2016, there were 8,932–10,208 adults, and these numbers are decreasing.

  • Snow Leopard: This feline is found in the mountain ranges of central and south Asia. They were assessed in 2016 when there were 2,710–3,386 adults, and they are decreasing.

  • Southern Tiger Cat: This feline is found in central and southern Brazil, eastern Paraguay, and north-eastern Argentina. In 2014, there were 6,047 adult cats, and they are decreasing.

  • Sunda Clouded Leopard: This feline is found in Borneo and Sumatra. In 2015, there were 4,500 adult cats, and they are decreasing.

What Can You Do?

Every single feline species that is vulnerable, endangered, and critically endangered continues to have decreasing numbers. You can help these and other endangered species through donations to reputable wildlife and nature conservation organizations. You can also volunteer at your local wildlife refuge or nature center.

Learn about any endangered species in your area, and educate your friends and family about taking steps to help protect these species. Get vocal through letter/email writing and posting about the species that you’re the most passionate about on social media. Write to your Congressional representative about supporting the Endangered Species Act.

Also, try to be environmentally conscious: Recycle, use environmentally friendly products, and don’t purchase anything taken from an endangered species, such as ivory or coral.

3 cat face dividerConclusion

The kind of destruction that humans continue to cause is leading to entire species disappearing forever. Fortunately, many conservation groups and locals in the countries of these vulnerable species are working tirelessly to protect them. Many have even lost their lives to this cause.

Awareness of these beautiful feline species and others at risk is the first step in making a difference.

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Featured Image Credit: tony mills, Shutterstock

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