The reed cat, which is also called the swamp lynx or house, is a cute fluffy creature that you want to stroke and cuddle. In fact, this is a dangerous predator, which in rare cases can even pose a threat to human life.
Details about this representative of the fauna will be discussed in today's article. The history of this species, description of the lifestyle, habitats, distribution area, reproduction and population of this animal are considered. We will also talk about the domestication of this species and crossing it with a domestic cat.
First mention of the species
In official science, this animal appeared in the 18th century. The “father” of this species of the feline family is the naturalist Johann Guldenshtedt, a Russified German sent by Empress Catherine II on an expedition to study the southern borders of Russia. The view was discovered in 1786. Two years later, the German scientist Johann Schreber classified it according to the binary nomenclature proposed not so long ago by Carl Linnaeus. The reed cat has since been called Felis Chaus (Felis is Latin for "cat" and Chaus is "bulrush"). From here cameone of the colloquial names for the species is house.
What does a jungle cat look like? At first glance, you might think that this is an ordinary cat, but there are still significant differences.
The photo of the reed cat posted above clearly demonstrates that the animal has a grayish-brown coat. There is a barely noticeable shade of red. The color of the reed cat may vary depending on the season and habitat.
The tail of this feline is medium in size and can reach 30 centimeters in length. Black rings are characteristic at the end of the tail.
The ears of the animal are long, pointed and have tassels at the ends.
The cat has long legs to better hunt and navigate its natural habitat.
In length, the largest specimens can reach 80 centimeters, in height - up to half a meter. The weight of the animal varies from 3 to 12 kilograms, depending on the sex, living conditions and heredity of the animal. Males tend to be significantly larger than females.
It's not for nothing that the color of a cat is called reed. The favorite habitat of this species is rugged swampy terrain. Irresistible thickets of reeds, weeds from thorny bushes - that's what this beast loves. Usually the animal settles along the banks of rivers and lakes, seas.
The reed cat is very cautious and avoids open spaces where it can become easy prey for large predators. The animal does not like trees very much,climbing them only when absolutely necessary. The animal also does not climb mountains, preferring swampy lowlands for habitation.
In India, cases of habitation of Hausas near grain storages have been recorded. Thus, the animal provides itself with food, preying on small rodents like mice and rats.
The animal by its nature is a bright representative of predators. The animal usually eats small swamp game, fish, small mammals. There are known cases of this animal attacking wild pigs.
Notable is the way the marsh cat hunts waterfowl. The animal creeps up to prey almost closely. At the distance necessary for the jump, the house frightens the bird, causing it to take off sharply. At this very moment, the cat performs a powerful, almost vertical jump, grabbing the prey with its tenacious paws.
It is generally accepted that representatives of the cat family are traditionally afraid of water and dive there only in case of emergency, a threat to life, and then without much enthusiasm. With a swamp cat, it's different. These animals are good swimmers and often "take baths". Thus, the animal can successfully get a “lunch” for itself or escape from the pursuit of a larger predator. A close relative of the swamp lynx is the viverrid fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus), distinguished by its swimming skills and ability to catch fish.
Like many members of the feline family, the swamp cat hunts at nightdays. During the day, the animal sleeps while in its home.
The Hausas prefer to use the abandoned burrows of badgers, foxes and other small animals as housing. They themselves are engaged in "construction" only during the breeding season.
The wild jungle cat is easy to tame. Kittens easily get used to the person. However, this is not recommended due to the small number of animals in nature.
Marsh cats are polygamous in nature, that is, they do not form stable pairs for reproduction. House breeding occurs once, rarely twice a year. The rut usually starts in February-April. The mating season is traditionally accompanied by a "showdown" between males for the opportunity to approach the female. Cats scream loudly, frightening each other and people living nearby, often causing serious damage to each other. The strongest male wins the right to impregnate the female.
Preparing for childbirth, the female builds a nest for herself. The most suitable place for this is the dense thickets of reeds, where future offspring will be in the greatest safety. The "maternity hospital" is usually a bed made of crushed cane mixed with wool.
The female's pregnancy lasts up to 70 days and ends with the birth of 2 to 5 kittens. The weight of a kitten usually ranges from 40 to 50 grams. The first weeks of life kittens are blind and almost deaf. By two weeks, kittens gain sight. With milk teeth, cubs part by the age of five months. The ability to acquire their own offspring Hausa acquirefor about 8-12 months of his life.
The wading cat is distributed on the western coast of the Caspian Sea, in Asia Minor and Central Asia, in Kazakhstan, India, Pakistan, and North Africa. On the territory of Russia, the Houses live on the plains of Dagestan, along the mouth of the Volga, along the rivers Terek and Kuma.
To date, science knows 10 subspecies of the swamp lynx. The first to be discovered was the Caucasian reed cat (1786, Johann Hildenshtedt). One of the last discovered in 1939 was the Kelaarta jungle cat, found in Sri Lanka and India, and the Pratera jungle cat, common in western India and the modern Pakistani province of Sindh.
The Central Asian jungle cat, discovered in 1969, was the latest addition to the House subspecies.
Danger to humans
Rare cases of marsh lynx attacks on humans have been recorded. All these cases were observed during the rutting period in animals, when they are distinguished by particular aggression and irritability. In 99% of cases, this animal does not pose an immediate danger to humans, being significantly smaller in size.
The swamp lynx is endangered and listed in the Red Book of Russia. Although the species has been given a conservation status of “Minimum Risk of Extinction”, the population of these animals in Russia is gradually declining and may eventually disappear completely.
History of the domestication of the jungle cat breed
Attempts to domesticate swamp lynxbeen undertaken since time immemorial. According to historians, even the ancient Egyptians used these animals to hunt waterfowl. This is evidenced by the images of small animals resembling cats that brought game to hunters.
In our time, breeders have bred a breed that combines a mixture of marsh lynx, domestic shorthair cats, as well as Bengal and Assibinsky cats. This breed was called “chausie”, or “housey”, from the Latin word Chaus - “reed”.
About the Chausie cat breed (Shausie)
The domestic reed cat was bred relatively recently. The International Cat Association registered the breed in 1995.
The task of the breeders was to remove as many aggressive signs of the behavior of a wild cat as possible, while maintaining the maximum similarity with the natural progenitor. This process is always very difficult and time consuming.
The behavior of such a cat is largely determined by its pedigree. For example, if a cat is denoted by the symbol F1, then this means that one of the animal's parents is a real swamp lynx. An animal with F2 is already a quarter wild. The percentage of "wild" genes thus decreases with each successive generation. At the same time, it is important not to lose the external signs of houses.
Selection is complicated by the rapid loss of natural genes in the next generation. In other words, the cubs are becoming less and less like a marsh lynx.
In order to be considered a full-fledged representative of the breed, the animal must look like its owna wild ancestor, but of a non-aggressive nature and more than three generations from the original species.
Because of these difficulties, the number of the breed in the world is extremely small. On the territory of Russia, there are only a few dozen individuals.
The same reason makes Chausie cats very expensive. The cost of one kitten starts from 200 thousand rubles and can reach up to a million. Moreover, when buying, there is a risk, so to speak, to buy a "pig in a poke": outwardly chausie, but habits - a wild cat. It is for this reason that it is better to make a purchase in the USA - the risks are less.
By nature, purebred Chausies are quite peaceful. They have a developed intellect that attracts them to solve non-standard tasks. It is better not to deprive these animals of the possibility of "free grazing". The animal will be very happy if a pond is equipped on the plot.
At the same time, one should not forget about the safety of the cat. The walking area must be properly insulated. Not every owner can afford to lose a kitten worth a million rubles.
In the absence of a special site, an alternative option would be to walk the animal in a park or square, take the animal with you to nature. For walking cats, there are special cat harnesses (leashes) that will be very appropriate in this situation.