10 Ways Big Cats Are Just Like Little Cats

They may be giant and ferocious but at the end of the day, wild cats are just like our furry little feline (and domesticated) friends. Help us celebrate Big Cat Week and check out all the ways these beautiful beasts are really just like your average fur ball.

1. When They Play


Cats of all shapes and sizes love to play with each other and they all play the same way—with some good old fashion fighting for fun. Friendly tendencies such as rolling around and chasing each other is most common with lions. They are known as the most social compared to other wild cat species, living in prides with about 15 members.

2. When They Yawn


Just like domestic house cats, tigers spend most of their days resting or sleeping—16 to 20 hours in fact. Tigers are mostly nocturnal and do most of their hunting during the evening hours, an activity that requires lots of energy. They live in a constant cycle of eating and resting.

3. When They Groom


All cats groom themselves whether to keep clean, however when the cheetah grooms itself, it tends to purr. That’s right, the fastest land animal known to man doesn’t roar it purrs! It’s actually the most different out of all big cats because cheetahs tend to hunt during the day rather than at night.

4. When They Are Temperamental


Any and every cat can be a diva. If it’s in a bad mood, they will hiss and growl you away. This natural tendency comes from your little cat’s ancestors, like this wild panther. Panthers are considered to be more temperamental than their relatives due to the fact that they are more inbred than others.

5. When They Scratch

Masai Mara, Kenya - Three sub-adult males about 2 1/2 years old, one of which is sharpening his claws against a tree in the Masai Mara in Kenya.

(photo credit: Beverly Joubert)

This type of behavior is common for cats big and small, wild and tame. Lions and all their cat cousins, no matter how distant, scratch their claws for sharpening. This is also a great way for them to stretch out muscles to prepare for a long night of hunting.

6. When They’re Territorial


While big cats tend to be solitary creatures, they can be just as territorial as the average house cat. If things get too crowded, conflict arises and cats of any type will butt heads to secure their home space. The puma could be the most territorial as it has the biggest geographic range of any land mammal in the Western Hemisphere. This may be a result of their territorial nature, making it necessary to spread out and live in low population densities.

7. When They Smell


Big and domestic cats have an incredible sense of smell and tend to both open up their mouths to get a better whiff like this snow leopard. This kind of big cat is very reclusive, making a sighting in the wild very rare. They tend to live in steep cliff areas where they prey on sheep and goats.

8. When They Hang Up High


Cats love high places. While your kitty may enjoy observing from on top your kitchen counter or cat condo, a higher place serves as a concealed site from which to hunt in the wild. Mountain lions are strong jumpers and can depend on their hind legs, which are longer than the front ones, to reach great heights.

9. When They Hunt


This goes without saying, as wild big cats survive on their prey. But while you may think the clouded leopard is far too wild to relate to your cat, they both have the same hunting techniques and even similar prey. The Sunda Clouded Leopard hunts a variety of prey such as deer, wild pigs, and birds. You heard that right! At the end of the day, this kind of leopard is just like your beloved kitty-cat, chasing after birds.

10. When They Love


Jaguars are known to be solitary animals but they do have an affectionate side when it comes to taking care of their young. A male will do whatever it takes to protect his home range and resident females from outside threats during mating season while a mother spends up to 2 years raising her cubs and preparing them for survival.

For more ferocious felines, watch Big Cat Week all week on Nat Geo Wild.


  1. Natun Somoy
    Dhaka, Bangladesh
    December 3, 2015, 1:37 am

    Agreed with all the topic except “7. When They Smell”. They must smell different.

  2. A. Edward Sousa
    Sedona, Arizona, U.S.A.
    December 10, 2015, 12:22 am

    Did not know big cats purrrrr.
    Thank you Angie

  3. Nancy
    Vancouver washing
    January 21, 6:58 pm

    Nice job on the purring

  4. Andree Siracusa
    Davie Florida
    February 19, 7:10 pm

    I love large cats and you reminded me how wonderful it is to still have all the large cats in the Wild…. Good Job