What Makes Small Cats Different From Big Cats?

BY | May 03 | COMMENTS PUBLISHED BY
What Makes Small Cats Different From Big Cats?

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Have you ever wondered how similar your kitty is to the lions of the Serengeti or the Bengal tiger? Although it may seem ridiculous to compare these large cats to the tiny house cat, you will be amazed at how similar they are. However, there are certain characteristics that make small cats suitable as pets and differentiate them from their wild counterparts.

Differences between small, domestic cats and big cats

  • Throat anatomy: The throat contains a bone called the hyoid bone. It connects the roof of the mouth and the tongue. In big cats, this bone is soft and flexible, which enables them to make a roaring sound, something that small cats are incapable of. In small cats, the hyoid bone is hard and rigid, which helps them purr instead of roar.
  • Controlled aggression: Cats have learned to control their aggression from when they started living around humans, which eventually got embedded in their genetic makeup. Cats with these altered genes bred with other cats to pass on these genes, creating a large number of small cats that are low on aggression and extreme aggressive behavior, making them suitable as pets.
  • Ability to learn and remember: Small, domestic cats seem to have a better ability to learn and remember behavior based on reward and punishment as opposed to big cats. This ability helps small house cats learn and remember what their human companions like and do not like and make it easier for the cats to adapt themselves to live with humans.
  • Shape of pupils: Big cats have round pupils, while most small cats, including domestic house cats, have elongated slits for pupils. This difference is attributed mainly to the kind of surroundings the different cats live in and their specific requirements for absorbing light.
  • Size of the brain: As a comparative ratio to their bodies, big cats have relatively larger brains than their small, domestic cousins. This could be because of how differently the brain is used by these cats and some areas of the brain being redundant to domestic cats.

Surprising similarities between your house cat and their large wild cousins

  • Kneading: This endearing habit is shared by all cat species. It is seen as a sign of contentment and happiness and could be a remnant from their suckling kitten days.
  • Sleep patterns: Both big and small cat species can sleep up to 20 hours a day, a habit you may have often observe in your kitty.
  • Food requirements: Big large and small cats are obligate carnivores and need meat on a regular basis to survive and be healthy. They cannot digest plant nutrients as well as they can digest and absorb nutrition from meat.

Cats domesticated themselves many centuries ago and decided to live alongside humans. Even today, cats are considered to be only semi-domesticated and retain a lot of instincts of wild cats.

How are small cats different from big cats?

Small cats and big cats, while sharing many similarities, exhibit notable differences in various aspects. The most obvious difference between these feline species is size. Small cats, both domestic cats and wild cats like ocelots and margays, are typically compact and weigh between 4 and 16 pounds. Big cats, such as lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars, on the other hand, are substantially bigger and can weigh more than 200 pounds. The main causes of this size disparity are habitat requirements and evolutionary adaptations. Their physical traits are another thing that sets them apart. Because of their relatively slim physique, quick movements, and retractable claws, little cats may easily climb trees. Larger prey can be tamed and captured by big cats because of their powerful builds and non-retractable claws. Due to their predatory instincts, they have more physical power and can take down larger creatures. The behavior of tiny and large cats differs significantly. Small cats tend to be lonesome and possessive, laying claim to their favorite hunting sites. As mostly nocturnal predators, they target smaller prey like birds and rodents by using their excellent agility and stealth. On the other hand, huge cats frequently display more social behavior, with some species establishing coalitions or prides. They hunt mostly at dusk or at night, using cunning, speed, and power to take down bigger prey like ungulates. Additionally, there are substantial differences between tiny and big cats' habitats and geographic distribution. Small cats, depending on the species, can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and even urban areas. Big cats, on the other hand, often favor more particular habitats, like savannahs, jungles, or deep forests.

Are big cats just like small cats?

No, there are distinct differences that set them apart in terms of size, physical attributes, behavior, and ecological roles. Big cats, including lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars, exhibit significant variations when compared to their domestic counterparts. First and foremost, big cats are considerably larger, with adult individuals weighing several hundred pounds. Their size and strength enable them to take down large prey and occupy a higher position in the food chain. Unlike small cats, big cats possess non-retractable claws and powerful jaws, allowing them to deliver incapacitating bites to subdue their prey. Behaviorally, big cats are typically more solitary in nature, except for lions, which form social groups known as prides. Small cats, on the other hand, often exhibit more independent behavior, although some breeds of domestic cats can be more social and form bonds with their human companions.

Can any big cat beat a tiger?

The question of whether any big cat can beat a tiger in a fight is a complex one. Tigers, known for their size, strength, and agility, are apex predators and formidable hunters. They are the biggest of the big cats and have a muscular body, strong jaws, and razor-sharp claws. In general, a fully grown adult tiger would present a serious challenge to other large cat species, such as lions, leopards, and jaguars. Because of their great strength, speed, and predatory prowess, tigers are renowned for being exceptionally skilled at bringing down big game. However, it is important to remember that individual differences, situations, and elements like age, size, health, and fighting prowess can all affect how a hypothetical meeting between huge cats plays out. Tigers have been shown in certain cases outperforming other big cats in fights or effectively protecting their territory. Nonetheless, in general, due to their larger size and impressive hunting abilities, a full-grown adult tiger would have a distinct advantage in a potential confrontation with other big cat species.

What breed of cat is the smallest?


The Singapura breed is considered the smallest breed of domestic cat. Originating from Singapore, these pint-sized felines have a distinctive appearance and a petite frame. Singapuras typically weigh between 4 to 8 pounds, with males being slightly larger than females. They have a compact body shape and are well-muscled despite their diminutive stature. Singapuras have a short, silky coat with a cute ticking tabby pattern and a range of brown tones. Their lovable beauty is furthered by the huge, almond-shaped expressive eyes that are frequently mentioned about them. Singapuras are social cats who take pleasure in associating with both their human and animal companions. They are well known for their friendly and lively attitude. They are renowned for their naughty antics and are quite intelligent and curious. Even though the Singapura breed is modest in stature, cat lovers seeking a little and devoted companion enjoy them for their vivid personalities and charming temperament.

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