Top 5 Cats That Look Like Tigers, Leopards and Other Wild Felines
Although they parted ways with their larger feline cousins millions of years ago, cats haven’t completely forgotten their wild side. Whether it’s little “gifts” in the form of mice casually left on our doorsteps or witnessing their expert-level stalking routine during playtime, every so often we get a reminder of the skilled predator hiding behind all that cuteness.
Thanks to distant relatives such as tigers, the hardwired hunting instincts are present across all cat breeds. But if you want a pet that also comes with looks to match, these cats that look like tigers differ from their undomesticated siblings in one big way. They will love nothing more than to move into your home and be part of the family.
Cats that look like tigers, leopards and other wild cats
With a name derived from its wild ancestor and a beautiful coat that mirrors the leopard’s spotted look, the Bengal cat might as well have come straight from a grassland savanna. Their coat has distinctive brown rosettes, but can also have stripes, turning the Bengal into a stunning tiger-like cat. Created by crossing an Asian Leopard Cat with a domestic cat, the Bengal is an agile, energetic and quite vocal companion. It’s a great match for owners who love exotic-looking cats and have the energy required to keep up with this miniature leopard.
The Savannah cat is not only a cat that looks like a tiger, they can also behave like one. Because these cats are the result of a cross between domestic cats and African servals, it’s not even clear yet if they can fully qualify as domesticated pets. Their personalities vary widely, depending on how many serval traits are inherited, but they all seem to share agility and intelligence as common features. They’re also one of the largest domesticated cats, so if you’ve got plenty of room in your house and you love tiger-like cats, the Savannah might be the one for you. Be aware that they’re quite uncommon and you will have to rely on the breeder for information regarding their personality and grooming needs.
Fun fact: Arcturus Aldebaran Powers was one of the tallest Savannah cats on record, measuring a whopping 48.8 cm at only two years old.
The Abyssinian cat looks like a tiger to some owners and a puma to others, but one thing is for sure – this cat was born to be wild. A regular day in the life of an Abyssinian looks like a triathlon event, with jumping, running and climbing part of a well-practiced routine dating all the way back to their ancestor, the African wild cat. Another distinctive trait handed down by the feline ancestors is the 'ticked' look caused by bands of colour on each hair.
Although they’re high-energy and playful, the Abyssinians are also surprisingly quiet which makes them a tempered and lovely companion. This is not your average lap cat, but if you want an intelligent, playful and affectionate feline, that also looks like a tiger, the Abyssinian ticks all the boxes.
Fun fact: the Abyssinian is considered one of the oldest domesticated cat breeds. Although the origins are still mysterious, it is believed that they originated from Ethiopia, formerly known as Abyssinia.
The Bombay cat is a departure from tiger-like cats, but still well within the realm of wild feline lookalikes. Elegant, with striking copper-gold eyes, shiny black coat and a strong, straight back, these cats look like a miniature panther just arrived from a tropical rainforest and settled on the sofa. But other than the exotic looks and a small penchant for chasing up the birds in the garden, this cat seems to have given up most of the wild side of its ancestors. Extremely affectionate, calm, playful and just an overall easy-going companion, the Bombay is well-loved by cat fans. Be aware that these friendly black cats do like to speak their mind, so if vocal cats are alright with you, the Bombay might be a match.
With swirls of grey adorning their silver coat, the Egyptian Mau looks more like a direct descendent of the Siberian Tiger than the African wild cat they originated from. This is a cat that looks like a tiger and moves like a cheetah. Athletic, agile and extremely clever, the Egyptian Mau cats need toys, play mates and plenty of space to be at their happiest. Their smarts will help them learn tricks very easily, including walking on a lead, but don’t let them know where the cat food cupboard is. They will likely find a way to open the door and help themselves to some treats when you’re not looking.
Fun fact: the Egyptian Mau is the only domesticated cat with a natural spotty pattern.
If you want to find out more about the wild side of the felines living in our homes, read our guide to cat hunting behaviour to find out more about its origins and ways to curb the predator instincts when they gets too intense.