Peace Crane by Hilary Taylor

Peace Crane by Hilary Taylor
Picture by Justin Wyatt
To read Hilary's story buy this special book...

This magical story has a touch of the supernatural. When an injured crane is found and nursed, something happens, something magical and inspiring...

Gentle Footprints launched- AS SEEN ON TV

Gentle Footprints was officially launched Fri June 4th at the Hay Festival with guest speaker Virginia McKenna and some of the authors

Buy from Bridge House Publishing by clicking on the link BUY:


Virginia McKenna at Hay Launch

Virginia McKenna at Hay Launch

Animal Anthology To Raise Funds for Born Free

Bridge House Publishing announce new book coming Spring 2010. For more about Bridge House please see their website.
This book is the annual charity book for Born Free...if you want to get involved with promoting and selling this book- email me!

Visit the Born Free Website to find out more about their valuable work...

Visit the Born Free Website to find out more about their valuable work...

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Big Cats Don't Purr...

properly... they have a kind of one-way sound and not the two-way rattle we are familiar with with our domestic felines and what big cats do that they don't is ROAR. This is made possible by an elongated and specially adapted larynx and hyoid apparatus. (However, the snow leopard cannot roar, despite having hyoid morphology similar to roaring cats.) When air passes through the larynx on the way from the lungs, the cartilage walls of the larynx vibrate, producing sound. The lion's larynx is longest, giving it the most robust roar.

But what else distinguishes the big cat from the small cat? It is not a biological classification, in fact it does what it says on the tin- it's about size. However, big cats do roar and they don't purr (properly). The term has been used to describe the cats in the genus Panthera and includes the tiger, lion, jaguar and leopard- also known as the 'great cats.' More recent definitions extend this group to include the cheetah, snow leopard and cougar.

The largest big cat is the tiger

Photos of BIG CATS:






Snow Leopard


Pay attention- here comes the science bit (well I do have an MSc in ecology so what did you expect!)

The Cats in Perspective

The Cat Phylogeny

Reference: Johnson, et al. The late Miocene radiation of modern Felidae: a genetic assessment.
Science 311 (6 January 2006): 73-77.

However a more recent study reveals that the snow leopard (not shown above) and the tiger are sister species, while the lion, leopard, and jaguar are more closely related to each other. The tiger and snow leopard diverged from the ancestral big cats approximately 3.9 Ma. The tiger then evolved into a unique species towards the end of the Pliocene epoch, approximately 3.2 Ma. The ancestor of the lion, leopard, and jaguar split from other big cats from 4.3-3.8 Ma. Between 3.6-2.5 Ma the jaguar diverged from the ancestor of lions and leopards. Lions and leopards split from one another approximately 3.1-1.95 Ma.

The small cats belong to the genus Felis

All cats have similarities and prefer to be solitary hunters unlike dogs. Cats also have retractable claws which is what defines them apart from dogs (now all go and play with your pet's feet and find out...)

The domestic cat has a dual personality remaining a kitten with its human and as soon as that back door is open it becomes the independent hunter, gone without looking back. The dog, on the other hand looks back at its owner and says aren't you coming with me?

But what is interesting is what behaviour of the wild cats, let's take the leopard as this week's animal - do we still see in our domestic felines? Well you'll have to read tomorrow to find out, won't you?!!!! Eh?

The Leopard

The ever so frightening Blog Owner's pets



Hmmm.... frightening aren't they?


  1. Fascinating stuff! I've also found out that one of my cats is probably a dog. It's not that he invites me out of the cat flap but won't retract his claws. He "pads" at people's laps, and his sister's body, and touches my face for attention, all with claws out. Looking forward to the rest of the week!

  2. I believe I read that cheetahs do purr (but perhaps "not properly"?)

    It's important for me to know one way or the other. What is your view on this? Thanks!

  3. Ah- you could be right there about cheetahs as Wikipedia suggests they can purr when they inhale unlike the other big cats but can't roar... interesting. Although the cheetah belongs to a unique group of 'big cats' genus Acinonyx and they also have semi-retractable claws, shared only with three other cats and is an adaptation to give them extra grip at high speeds.

    Thanks for your comments Scotti!


  4. You're welcome! I'm very much interested in this as I have a children's picture book coming out in spring 2011 that compares Big Cats with "little kitties" (domestic cats). There will be a section in the back that presents facts and activities. I have a cheetah purring in the book, so I do want to make sure that's possible! LOL

  5. Wow that sounds exciting- let us know more about the book when its out- maybe we can tell people about it on our list? Who's the publisher?