chat marbré (French)
gato jaspeado (Spanish)
marbel biral (Bengali: Bangladesh, India)
shih mao, shihban mao, xiao yunbao [small clouded leopard] (Chinese)
kucing batu (Indonesia)
kucing dahan (Malaysia)
kyaung tha lin (Myanmar)
maew laey hin on (Thailand)
Description and Behavior
Very little is known of its behavior, diet and ecological niche. It is believed to
be primarily nocturnal. The few times marbled cats were observed in the Bukit Suharto
Protection Forest in Kalimantan were in the evening between eight and 10 p.m.
(Yasuma and Alikodra 1990). The stomach of a specimen shot in Sabah contained
remains of a small rat (Davis 1962). There was an observation around the turn
of the century of a marbled cat stalking a bird in a tree (Guggisberg 1975).
Squirrels have been reported in the diet (Ha Dinh Duc, Wang Yingxiang pers. comm.).
The marbled cat has proved to be an adept climber in captivity (Leyhausen 1979).
Litter Size (C): 1-4
Age at Sexual Maturity (C): 21 months (Green 1991)
Longevity (C): up to 12 years (Medway 1978)
Habitat and Distribution
There are few records on which to base the distribution map
(Figure 12). However, in 1994 what is thought to
be the first photo of a marbled cat in the wild was obtained in a photo-trap set in
Thailand’s Huay Kha Khaeng Wildlife Reserve (K. Conforte pers. comm.; see
Plate X), where there were no previous reports. The sparseness of earlier records is
indicated by the following examples: although Pocock (1939a) quotes Horsfield
on the marbled cat’s occurrence in hilly regions in Nepal, recent records consist of
only a single specimen circa 1981 from Nawalpur, just to the west of Royal Chitwan
National Park; it has not been recorded from the park itself (C. McDougal in litt.
1991). The cat has only recently been recorded from China: a specimen was collected
in China’s Yunnan province in the 1970s (Wang and Wang 1986), and B. Tan (in
litt. 1991) writes that there are new reports of its presence in neighboring Guangxi
province. Although some distribution maps have excluded much of South-East Asia (e.g.,
Sunquist 1991, Corbett 1993) from the marbled cat’s range, it is present in the
lowland forests of southern and central Vietnam (Van Peenen 1969; Dao Van Tien, C.
Santiapillai in litt. 1991). Husain (1974) thought it occurred in the
Chittagong hill forests of Bangladesh, but Khan (1986) states that there are no
actual records. In India, the species appears to be restricted to the eastern Himalayan
foothills between 1,500-3,000 m altitude, associated with moist deciduous and
semi-evergreen forest habitats (Biswas and Ghose 1982, Banerjee 1984).
The marbled cat may be a naturally rare species. On the other hand, 50 years ago,
Pocock (1941: 476) ascribed the rarity of observation to its forest habitat
and nocturnal habits rather than to real scarcity. Arboreality can also be added to
the factors mitigating against sightings and collection. A field study is long overdue.
No legal Protection Outside Protected Areas:
Cambodia, Vietnam (Nichols et al. 1991; U. Ohn, R. Salter in litt.; China Cat Specialist Group
© 1996 IUCN - The World Conservation Union