‘Big cat’ is a term used for the large members of the cat family, Felidae. Big cats are ambush hunters and are often at the top of the food chain in an ecosystem. Based on the typical size, the following are the top 10 largest big cats in the world.
Top 10 largest big cats in the world
- Cougar/Puma/mountain lion
- Snow Leopard
- Eurasian Lynx
- Sunda Clouded leopard
- Clouded leopard
1. Tiger (Panthera tigris)
Tiger is the largest of all big cats. Only found in Asia, Tiger has two subspecies – the Continental Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) and the Sunda tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica). The Siberian Tiger (a continental Tiger population) is the largest among all Tigers. Adult male Siberian Tigers typically weigh 200-300 Kgs (441-661 lbs) while adult females weigh 100-150 Kgs (221-331 lbs). The Royal Bengal Tiger found in India and Bangladesh is also a continental Tiger. Some sources say that the average weight of the Bengal Tiger is more than that of the Siberian Tiger.
Tigers live a solitary life and are very rarely seen in groups. Tiger is the national animal of India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and South Korea.
(Read more: 15 Interesting facts about Tigers)
2. Lion (Panthera leo)
The lion is the second largest big cat. Found in Africa and India, Lion has two recognized subspecies- (1) Panthera leo leo found in Central and West Africa, and in India, (2) Panthera leo melanochaita found in Southern and Eastern Africa. The size of Lions varies from region to region but the largest specimens easily weigh over 200 Kgs (441 lbs).
Lion has the loudest roar among all big cats. Its roar can be heard from as far as 8 kilometers (5 miles). Unlike Tiger, Lion is a social animal and lives in groups called Pride.
(Read more: 12 interesting facts about Lions | fun Lion facts)
3. Jaguar (Panthera onca)
Jaguar is the third largest big cat. Found in Central and South America, and rarely in the US, Jaguar typically weighs 56–96 Kgs (124–212 lbs). In the rainforests of the Amazon, there is often a fight between the Jaguar and Anaconda for the spot of the apex predator. The former seems to dominate the latter. Moreover, Jaguars have been seen preying on the Anaconda many times.
The jaguars of Central America are much smaller in size compared to the South American Jaguars.
4. Cougar/Puma/Mountain lion (Puma concolor)
The Cougar cat is found in both North and South America. In many regions, its habitat overlaps with the habitat of the Jaguar. Cougars weigh typically in the range of 50-70 Kgs (110-154 lbs). They grow bigger in size at higher latitudes. Near the equator, they are relatively smaller.
Though Cougars and Jaguars have comparable sizes, Jaguars have a greater biting force and physical strength. Jaguars also prey on larger animals as compared to Cougars.
5. Leopard (Panthera pardus)
Among all the cats, Leopard probably has the largest habitat range. Leopard is classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Leopards look similar to Jaguars but are smaller in size and have smaller Rosettes with no central dots. The typical weight range is 40-70 Kgs (88-154 lbs).
6. Snow leopard (Panthera uncia)
The snow leopard is not a Leopard subspecies. Its binomial name is Panthera uncia. Snow leopards are found in Asia from Siberia to the Upper Himalayan mountains. With a typical weight in the range of 22 to 55 Kgs (49 and 121 lbs), Snow leopards are the sixth largest big cats.
7. Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)
The cheetah is the fastest land animal. With a typical weight of 21 to 72 Kgs (46 and 159 lbs), it is the seventh largest big cat species in the world. Cheetah is found majorly in Africa with a small population in Iran. Historically, these big cats were found throughout India. The government of India reintroduced Cheetahs in the wild in 2022 in Kuno National Park, Madhya Pradesh.
8. Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx)
Eurasian Lynx is a wild cat found in Europe, Central Asia, Siberia, and rarely in the Himalayan mountains. Eurasian Lynx weighs 10-30 Kgs (22-66 lbs) and is the largest Lynx species in the world.
9. Sunda Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)
Sunda Clouded leopards are found exclusively in Sumatra and Borneo islands in Southeast Asia. Sunda clouded leopards vary in weight from 12 to 26 Kgs (27-57 lbs).
10. Clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa)
Unlike the Sunda clouded Leopard which is limited to only two islands, Clouded leopards have a large geographical range. They are found in the eastern Himalayas, Bangladesh, Thailand, Myanmar, Southeastern China, and Malaysia. The typical weight range of a Clouded leopard is 10-23 Kgs (22-51 lbs).