Awesome 8 Meet the Big Cats
Awesome 8 Meet the Big Cats

Out of the 37 species of cats, eight reign supreme. Because of their size, strength, and predatory skills, these cats are considered the “big cats.” Check out a few wild facts about these fabulous felines!




Picture of a lion

An adult lion’s roar can be heard up to five miles away.


Not a Copycat

Picture of a tiger

A tiger’s pattern is like a fingerprint—no two patterns of stripes are exactly the same.



Picture of a cheetah

A cheetah is the fastest land animal, reaching speeds over 60 miles per hour, and can pump out as many as four strides per second at top speed. They can accelerate faster than most cars!

Snow Leopard


Picture of a snow leopard

Snow leopards can leap as far as 50 feet—the length of a humpback whale.

Clouded Leopard

Hanging Out

Picture of a clouded leopard

These cats are excellent climbers. Using their large paws and sharp claws, they can even hang upside down beneath tree branches.


Jaw Power

Picture of a jaguar

A jaguar’s jaws are strong enough to crack open tortoise shells—helping it get to one of its favorite treats.


In the Trees

Picture of a leopard

Leopards can stalk their prey—including antelopes and gazelles—drag it up, and eat it all in trees. This keeps their food safe from scavengers like hyenas.


Name Game

Picture of a cougar

Also known as mountain lions, panthers, and pumas, this secretive cat’s range stretches from the southern tip of South America up to the edge of the Yukon, a wild territory in northwest Canada.





Text by Allyson Shaw, NGS Staff

Photo credits: Cafebeanz Company, Dreamstime (lion); Konmesa, Dreamstime (tiger); Stu Porter, Dreamstime (cheetah); Teresa Kenney, Dreamstime (clouded leopard); Stephenmeese, Dreamstime (jaguar); Tschudi, Dreamstime (leopard); Евгений Баранов, Dreamstime (cougar); Philip Dalton, Alamy Stock Photo (snow leopard)

National Geographic supports the protection and conservation of big cats around the world. With a parent, learn more here.

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