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Meet the Rare and Fabulous Felines of 'Super Cats' (Photos)

Canada lynx

Canada lynx, super cats nature pbs

(Image credit: Ryan Durack/Copyright PBS)

With spectacular images, the PBS Nature miniseries "Super Cats" showcases the beauty and diversity of wild cats around the world.

Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) are the most northerly cats — a record they share with their Eurasian cousins. Thick fur and huge snowshoe-like feet help them deal with arctic conditions and keep up with their equally specialist prey. Learn more at PBS Nature's "Super Cats" website.


lion, super cats nature pbs

(Image credit: Paul Williams/Copyright BBC)

Lions (Panthera leo) are the only cat to live in groups. In numbers they find the strength and audacity to hunt the most formidable prey.


Leopard, super cats nature pbs

(Image credit: Paul Williams/Copyright BBC)

From the deserts of Southern Africa, to the Boreal forests of Russia to the bustling suburbs of Mumbai in India, leopards (Panthera pardus) thrive in more environments than any other wild cat.


Cheetah, super cats nature pbs

(Image credit: Copyright BBC)

A cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), Namibia. Cheetahs are not just the fastest cats but the fastest animals on land, too. The latest research is beginning to reveal that it is their extraordinary maneuverability that really gives them their killer edge.


Caracal, super cats nature pbs

(Image credit: Anna Place/Copyright BBC)

A caracal (Caracal caracal) in Namibia. Their long powerful legs enable them to leap as high as 10 feet and hunt birds on the wing.


Ocelot, super cats nature pbs

(Image credit: Paul Williams/Copyright BBC)

Ocelots (Leopardus pardalis) are small and superbly camouflaged cats that thrive in the forests of Central America. Lightweight and agile, they can climb high up into the trees.


Serval, super cats nature pbs

(Image credit: Paul Williams/Copyright BBC)

A serval (Leptailurus serval), South Africa. Proportionally, servals have the longest ears and legs of any cat, and are adapted to detect and leap for prey amongst tall savanna grass. The world's densest population of these small cats have made their home in a secure wasteland that surrounds Africa's biggest industrial complex.

Black-footed cat

Black-footed cat, super cats nature pbs

(Image credit: Paul Williams/Copyright BBC)

Black-footed cats (Felis nigripes) hunt amongst the short desert scrub in the Karoo of South Africa. They are Africa's smallest cat, and the deadliest of the entire cat family — with a 60 percent hunting success rate. Anything that moves is a potential meal, from locusts to birds to gerbils.

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A swamp tiger (Panthera tigris) bathes in seawater in the Sundarbans of India. These unexplored muddy mangroves are home to around 100 of these legendary big cats, but only at low tide might one emerge from the depths of the forest to patrol the beach around his island territory.

Fishing cat

Fishing cat, super cats nature pbs

(Image credit: Paul Williams/Copyright BBC)

A fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) and kitten, hunt for fish in Bangladesh. They are suited to a life in the monsoon wetlands. Beneath a long outer coat they have a short layer of insulating fur that acts like a wetsuit — and they have partially webbed feet.


Jaguar, super cats nature pbs

(Image credit: Paul Williams/Copyright BBC)

A jaguar (Panthera onca), Central America. Jaguars are the biggest cat in the Americas. For their size, they have the strongest bite of any cat. On the coast of Costa Rica, they leave the jungle to hunt turtles on the beach.

Mindy Weisberger
Mindy Weisberger is a senior writer for Live Science covering general science topics, especially those relating to brains, bodies, and behaviors in humans and other animals — living and extinct. Mindy studied filmmaking at Columbia University; her videos about dinosaurs, biodiversity, human origins, evolution, and astrophysics appear in the American Museum of Natural History, on YouTube, and in museums and science centers worldwide. Follow Mindy on Twitter.