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    THE BIG CAT PICTURE 2 OF 3

    Laissez-Faire Social Club

    by Laissez-Faire Social Club

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    THE BIG CAT PICTURE PART 2 OF 3

    Big cat distinguishes the large wild cats from much smaller species. One definition of big cat includes only the four species of cat in the genus Panthera: the lion, tiger, leopard, and jaguar. Members of this genus are the only cats able to roar, and this is sometimes considered a distinguishing characteristic of big cats. A more expansive definition also includes the cheetah, snow leopard, clouded leopard, and cougar. The roaring cats may also be distinguished from the other big cats by referring to them as "great cats". Another distinction is the offspring of the great cats are called cubs while the offspring of the lesser big cats are referred to as kittens.

    Three of the four largest cats are members of the genus Panthera; the cougar is the fourth largest cat, exceeding the leopard in size. Some medium-sized cats like the Eurasian lynx may weigh as much as 25 kg (55 lb), but they are not considered big cats.

    Despite enormous differences in size, the various species of cat are amazingly similar in both structure and behavior. All cats are carnivores and efficient predators. Their range includes the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe; Australia and Antarctica have no indigenous species of cats.

    The principal threats to big cats are habitat destruction and poaching, including so-called canned hunts, in which captive animals on reserves are shot for sport.

    Big cats were threatened by the exotic pet trade but now international trade is regulated by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).