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Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Very little is known about the biology, behaviour and diet of the marbled cat, except what has been observed in captivity (6). The species is believed to be primarily nocturnal and more arboreal than most other cats, which would help explain its relative obscurity (2) (4), although recent studies have shown activity during both day and night (7). With its long, slender body, extremely long tail, short legs and broad feet, the marbled cat is well-adapted for tree-climbing and has been observed in trees in the wild, once stalking a bird, and is an adept climber in captivity (2) (6). Birds are thought to constitute a major part of the diet, and there have also been records of squirrels and rats being eaten, while lizards and frogs may also be taken (2) (6). Little is known about how far this secretive cat ranges, although one female, radio tracked in Thailand for a month, was found to have a home range of 5.3 square kilometres (10). What is known of this cat's reproductive behaviour comes from observations of just a few captive individuals. Two litters of two kittens have been recorded from January and February, and one litter of unknown size was born in September. Gestation is estimated to last somewhere between 66 and 82 days (2). Young attain sexual maturity at 21 to 22 months and individuals in captivity have lived up to 12 years and three months (2) (6).
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Description

The marbled cat possesses an unusual mixture of small and big cat characteristics (2). Although just three kilograms and about the size of a domestic cat, this species superficially resembles the much larger clouded leopard in its broad feet, enlarged canines and strikingly similar, blotched coat pattern (2) (4) (5). The thick, soft, brownish-yellow fur is covered on the back and sides in large, mottled, irregular-shaped blotches margined with black (4) (5). However, these markings are less well-defined in the marbled cat than those of its larger cousin, tending to be more broken and marbled (hence the name), while the black spots on the limbs are more numerous (4) (6). The bushy tail is extremely long, reflecting the cat's arboreal lifestyle, and similarly marked with black spots and rings (5) (7). Prominent black lines occur on the head, neck and back, starting as dark, interrupted bands running from the corner of each eye up and over the forehead (2) (4). Distinctive dark stripes also mark the cheeks, while the chin, upper lip, cheeks and patches around the eyes are contrastingly white or buff in colour (4) (8). The eyes are amber or golden, and the ears are short, rounded and black, with a conspicuous white to buff spot on the back (4).
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Distribution

Marbled cats range from the Eastern Himalayas to Upper Burma and the Indochinese region. This distribution includes areas of northern India, Nepal, Sikkim, Assam, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, and Borneo. In the Malay area they are rare and confined to the mainland.

Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )

  • Medway, L. 1969. The wild mammals of Malay and offshore islands including Singapore. London: Oxford University Press.
  • Sunquist, M., F. Sunquist. 2002. Wild Cats of the World. Chicago: University Chicago Press.
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Range Description

The marbled cat is found in tropical Indomalaya westward along the Himalayan foothills westward into Nepal and eastward into southwest China, and on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. There are few locality records of this species (Nowell and Jackson, 1996, Sunquist and Sunquist, 2002).

The map shows range within forest cover (European Commission, Joint Research Centre, 2003) to reflect patchiness caused by deforestation upon recommendation of the assessors (IUCN Cats Red List workshop 2007).

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Historic Range:
Nepal, Southeast Asia, Indonesia

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Range

Found from northern India and Nepal, through south-eastern Asia to Borneo and Sumatra (9). Most records of this cat are from single observations and its distribution may therefore be wider than currently known (4).
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Physical Description

Morphology

The physical appearance of marbled cats is often compared to that of their close relative, clouded leopards (Neofelis nebulosa). They are close in size to house cats (Felis catus), but are longer and more slender. Young are mottled brown until they get their adult markings at about 4 months old. The fur is full and soft with widely variable markings. The base color is brownish yellow and the coat is covered in large blotches which are paler in their centers and outlined in black. Large broken blotches occur on the flanks and blackish lines occur on the head, neck, and back. These patterns tend to be smaller than in clouded leopards and they merge together resembling marble (hence the name marbled cat). Interrupted bands run from the corner of each eye over the head. The ears are short and rounded and are black with grey bars marking them. There is a white or buff spot on the back of each ear. The chin and upper lip are also white or buff in color. The tail is spotted and tipped with black, and about three quarters of the body length. Head and body length ranges from 45 to 61 cm. Height at shoulder averages 28 cm and tail length is 35 to 55 cm. Marbled cats have relatively large feet with very large heel pads. They have unmistakably large canines for cats of their size. The skull is high and rounded and wide across the zygomata. The eye socket is surrounded by a complete bony ring, unusual among felids. The occipital area is wide with low crests and the sagittal crest is quite small. The anterior upper pre-molar is absent or vestigial. There are 3 generally recognized subspecies, Pardofelis marmorata marmorata, Pardofelis marmorata charltoni, and Pardofelis marmorata longicaudata.

Range mass: 2.4 to 5 kg.

Average mass: 3.5 kg.

Range length: 45 to 61 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

  • Pocock, F.R.S., R. 1939. The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Red Lion Court, Feet Street, London, e.c. 4: The Patronage of Secretary of State for India.
  • Postanowicz, R., Lioncrusher. 2008. "Marbled Cat" (On-line). Lioncrushers Domain - Carnivora Species Information. Accessed April 01, 2009 at http://www.lioncrusher.com/animal.asp?animal=60.
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Ecology

Habitat

Marbled cats have been recorded in a variety of habitats from sea level to 3,000 meters. Habitats include mixed deciduous-evergreen forest, secondary forest, clearings, six-year-old logged forest, and rocky scrub. Most sources describe this species as primarily arboreal. However many records of marbled cats are single observations and habitat and distribution may be wider than currently recognized.

Range elevation: 0 to 3000 m.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest

Other Habitat Features: riparian

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The marbled cat is primarily associated with moist and mixed deciduous-evergreen tropical forest (Nowell and Jackson 1996), and may prefer hill forest (Duckworth et al. 1999, Holden 2001, Grassman et al. 2005). A few sightings have been made in secondary forest or cleared areas near forest, but it is likely forest-dependent (Nowell and Jackson 1996). Grassman and Tewes (2002) reported the observation of a pair of adult marbled cats in a salt lick in Thailand's Phu Khieu National Park.

It has never been studied, although Grassman et al. (2005) made a preliminary home range estimate of 5.3 km² for an adult female who was radio-collared and tracked for one month in Thailand's Phu Khieu National Park. The marbled cat probably preys primarily on rodents, including squirrels (Nowell and Jackson, 1996), and birds.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Although primarily thought to be an inhabitant of moist tropical forest, the marbled cat's specific habitat requirements are poorly known, with only anecdotal information available (1). In fact, this species has been recorded in a wide range of habitats from sea level up to 3,000 meters (2), including mixed deciduous-evergreen forest, secondary forest, clearings, six-year-old logged forest, Dipterocarp forest and a rocky river-cliff overgrown with scrub and low bush (1).
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Trophic Strategy

Marbled cats are thought to prey primarily on birds and arboreal small mammals. Mammal prey includes tree squirrels, tree shrews, rats and mice, small primates, and fruit bats. Birds up to the size of pheasants are thought to be their primary prey. Other prey include lizards, frogs, and insects. In Borneo they may be more terrestrial and forage on the ground.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; amphibians; reptiles; insects

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates)

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Associations

Marbled cats are important predators of birds and small mammals. There is no available information on their ecosystem roles otherwise.

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Marbled cats are cryptically colored, extremely wary, and arboreal, helping them to avoid most predation. Marbled cats have exceptionally long canines in relation to other skull dimensions and, when coupled with their fierce demeanor when trapped, these teeth present a formidable defense. There are no observations of predation on marbled cats.

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Similar to domestic cats, marbled cats have been observed purring and their meow has been described as chirping instead of more continuous sound inflection. Marbled cats rely heavily on vision and have good vision in low light. Their shorter, more rounded skull with flattened broad nasals gives them unobscured forward vision. This morphology, in combination with large, amber-colored eyes with large, vertically-oriented elliptical pupils, provides maximum light gathering ability and telescopic vision necessary to navigate in low light conditions.

Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Life Expectancy

The lifespan of P. marmorata in the wild may vary, in captivity the longest lifespan was 12 years and 3 months.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
12.25 (high) years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Observations: Not much is known about the longevity of these animals, but one specimen lived 13.4 years old in captivity (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Reproduction

Marbled cats are solitary animals. All observations of P. marmorata have been single animals, except for one in which a pair was observed crossing a salt lick in Thailand. It is suggested that pairs form only for a period of time to allow breeding. Almost no information is available on the mating system of marbled cats.

Rarely seen in the wild, there are currently no accounts of reproductive behavior of Pardofelis marmorata observed in their natural habitat. On a few occasions marbled cats have given birth in captivity, with 2 litters yielding 2 kittens each and another litter of 4 kittens. Estrus occurs monthly, without seasonal variation in captive animals. Once pregnant, gestation lasts from 66 to 82 days in marbled cats. Captive kittens can eat solid food by 59 days of age in captivity, which may indicate the earliest onset of weaning in the wild. In addition to gestation, lactation, and food supplementation, there is likely time involved in teaching kittens to hunt leaving only enough time for a single litter per year. One captive litter began at 4 kittens and was reduced to a single kitten, presumably by maternal infanticide. If infanticide is common in the wild and not just a result of captive stress, or if fertilization can overlap offspring rearing, it may be possible for marbled cats to have more than a single litter per year. Kittens begin walking at around 15 days but increased awareness and athletic movement occurred after 65 days old. Before kittens displayed this capacity to jump and climb it is likely they rely completely on their mother’s protection as well as their cryptic mottled colors for hiding. Marbled cats become sexually mature at around the age of 2 years.

Breeding interval: Breeding interval is not known, but it is likely that there is a maximum of 1 litter per year.

Breeding season: Breeding seasonality has not been reported, it may vary regionally.

Range number of offspring: 2 to 4.

Range gestation period: 66 to 82 days.

Average weaning age: 59 days.

Average time to independence: 121 minutes.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 21 to 22 months.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 21 to 22 months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous

Average birth mass: 85 g.

Average number of offspring: 2.

Information on parental investment in marbled cats is not reported in the literature. However, like most small cats, marbled cat females invest heavily in offspring through gestation and lactation, and probably also engage in significant post-weaning care and teaching. Less than 100 g when born, kittens develop quickly and have a full set of teeth. A kitten's eyes will be fully opened by 16 days and it will be able to walk by about 22 days.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

  • Grassman, L., M. Tewes, N. Silvy, K. Kreetiyutanont. 2005. Ecology of three sympatric felids in a mixed evergreen forest in north-central Thailand. Journal of Mammalogy, 86/1: 29-38.
  • Indian Tiger Welfare Society, 2005. "Marbled Cat" (On-line). Accessed April 03, 2009 at http://www.indiantiger.org/wild-cats.html.
  • Lekagul, B., J. McNeely. 1977. Mammals of Thailand. Kurusapha Ladprao: White Lotus.
  • Pocock, R. 1867. The Marbled Cat (Pardofelis marmorata) and some other Oriental Species, with Definitions of a new Genus of the Felidae. Proc. Zool. Soc.: 742-763.
  • Sunquist, M., F. Sunquist. 2002. Wild Cats of the World. Chicago: University Chicago Press.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Populations of marbled cats are thought to be around 10,000 individuals. Their natural rarity and reclusive nature makes accurate estimates hard to calculate. Because marbled cats are rare they are not common in fur or meat markets. There are countries where regulated hunting is permitted (Laos and Singapore) and countries that offer no protection outside of designated parks (Bhutan and Brunei). These cats are sensitive to any human disturbance and readily abandon areas with humans. They depend on intact forest habitats, making them vulnerable to habitat destruction from logging, agriculture, and development.

US Federal List: endangered

CITES: appendix i

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
C1+2a(i)

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Grassman, L., Sanderson, J., Hearn, A., Ross, J., Wilting, A., Sunarto, S., Khan, J.A. & Mukherjee, S.

Reviewer/s
Nowell, K., Breitenmoser-Wursten, C., Breitenmoser, U. (Cat Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
The marbled cat is forest-dependent, and its habitat is undergoing the world's fastest regional deforestation rates (over 10% in the past ten years: FAO 2007). It occurs at low densities, and its total effective population size is suspected to be fewer than 10,000 mature individuals, with no single population numbering more than 1,000 (IUCN Cats Red List Workshop 2007).

History
  • 2002
    Vulnerable
  • 1996
    Data Deficient
  • 1994
    Insufficiently Known
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Indeterminate
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Indeterminate
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
  • 1986
    Indeterminate
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
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Current Listing Status Summary

Status: Endangered
Date Listed: 06/14/1976
Lead Region: Foreign (Region 10) 
Where Listed: Entire


Population detail:

Population location: Entire
Listing status: E

For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Pardofelis marmorata, see its USFWS Species Profile

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Status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1), and listed on Appendix I of CITES (3).
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Population

Population
The marbled cat appears relatively rare compared to sympatric felids, based on the paucity of historical as well as recent records (Nowell and Jackson 1996, Duckworth et al. 1999, Holden 2001, Sunquist and Sunquist 2002, Grassman et al. 2005, Azlan and Sharma 2006, Lynam et al. 2006, Mishra et al. 2006, Yasuda et al. 2007), although Cambodia stands out for having a relatively high encounter rate (13 camera trap records, compared to 12 for the Asiatic golden cat and 4 for the clouded leopard: Duckworth et al. 2005).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
The marbled cat appears to be forest-dependent, and its habitat in Southeast Asia is undergoing the world's fastest deforestation rate (1.2-1.3% a year since 1990: FAO 2007), due to logging, oil palm and other plantations, and human settlement and agriculture. Although infrequently observed in the illegal Asian wildlife trade (Nowell and Jackson 1996), it is valued for its skin, meat and bones, and indiscriminate snaring is prevalent throughout much of its range and is likely to pose a major threat (IUCN Cats Red List workshop, 2007). They have been reported as poultry pests (Nowell and Jackson 1996, Mishra et al. 2006).
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The marbled cat is thought to be rare throughout its range, although infrequent encounters may be attributable, at least in part, to its reclusive nature and remote forest habitat. Thus, little information exists on the species' true status (2). The major threat to this cat is believed to be the widespread destruction of its forest habitat throughout Southeast Asia, which is occurring at an alarming rate and not only affects this species, but also its prey base (1) (9). Thankfully, for an animal with such a beautiful coat, the marbled cat is seldom found in the illegal wildlife trade in Asia (1) (9).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Included on CITES Appendix I. Hunting of this species is prohibited in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China (Yunnan only), India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal and Thailand. Hunting regulations are in place in Lao PDR, Singapore (Nowell and Jackson 1996). It occurs in a number of protected areas. Further research is needed on its ecology, distribution and status (IUCN Cats Red List workshop, 2007).
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Conservation

Hunting of this species is prohibited in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China (Yunnan only), India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal and Thailand. Hunting regulations are in place in Laos and Singapore, and the marbled cat has been placed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered species (CITES), prohibiting international trade in the species (1). Marbled cats are rarely seen in zoos and breed poorly in captivity (2). Further investigation into the status of the marbled cat in the wild, and the degree to which it can tolerate loss and disturbance of its forest habitat, is urgently needed (1).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Marbled cats are reclusive animals that avoid humans and are not known for having any negative impacts. There is one account of a marbled cat caught raiding a fowl pen. However, this kind of interaction is likely only where humans are invading and modifying native marbled cat habitat.

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Marbled cats are charismatic and appealing animals. This makes them useful in winning popular support and funding for conservation efforts focused on their vulnerable ecosystems.

Positive Impacts: research and education

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Wikipedia

Marbled cat

The marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata) is a small wild cat of South and Southeast Asia. Since 2002, it has been listed as vulnerable by IUCN, as it occurs at low densities, and its total effective population size is suspected to be fewer than 10,000 mature individuals, with no single population numbering more than 1,000.[2]

The species was once considered to belong to the pantherine lineage of "big cats".[3] Genetic analysis has shown it to be closely related to the Asian golden cat and the bay cat, all of which diverged from the other felids about 9.4 million years ago.[4]

Characteristics[edit]

A marbled cat in Danum Valley, Borneo

The marbled cat is similar in size to a domestic cat, with a more thickly furred tail (which may be longer than the body), showing adaptation to its arboreal lifestyle, where the tail is used as a counterbalance. Marbled cats range from 45 to 62 cm (18 to 24 in) in head-body length, with a 35- to 55-cm tail. Recorded weights vary between 2 and 5 kg (4.4 and 11.0 lb). The coat is thick and soft, and varies in background color from dark grey-brown through yellowish grey to red-brown. Spots on the forehead and crown merge into narrow longitudinal stripes on the neck, and irregular stripes on the back. The back and flanks are marked with dark, irregular dark-edged blotches. The legs and underparts are patterned with black dots, and the tail is marked with black spots proximally and rings distally. In addition to its long tail, the marbled cat can also be distinguished by its large feet. It also possesses unusually large canine teeth, resembling those of the big cats, although these appear to be the result of parallel evolution.[5]

When standing or resting, marbled cats assume a characteristic position with their backs arched.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Marbled cats are found in tropical Indomalaya westward along the Himalayan foothills westward into Nepal and eastward into southwest China, and on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. They are primarily associated with moist and mixed deciduous-evergreen tropical forests.[2]

Two subspecies are recognized:[6]

Ecology and behavior[edit]

In May 2000, a female marbled cat was trapped along an animal trail in a hill-evergreen / bamboo mixed forest in Thailand's Phu Khieu Wildlife Sanctuary. This first-ever radio-tracked marbled cat had an overall home range of 5.8 km2 (2.2 sq mi) at an elevation of 1,000 to 1,200 m (3,300 to 3,900 ft) and was active primarily during nocturnal and crepuscular time periods.[8]

Forest canopies probably provide the marbled cat with much of its prey: birds, squirrels and other rodents, and reptiles.[5]

A few marbled cats have been bred in captivity, with gestation estimated to be 66 to 82 days. In the few recorded instances, two kittens were born in each litter, and weighed from 61 to 85 g (2.2 to 3.0 oz). The eyes open at around 12 days, and the kittens begin to take solid food at two months, around the time that they begin actively climbing. Marbled cats reach sexual maturity at 21 or 22 months of age, and have lived for up to 12 years in captivity.[5]

Threats[edit]

Indiscriminate snaring is prevalent throughout much of its range, and likely poses a major threat. It is valued for its skin, meat, and bones, but infrequently observed in the illegal Asian wildlife trade.[2] During a survey in the Lower Subansiri District of Arunachal Pradesh, a marbled cat was encountered that had been killed by a local hunter for a festival celebrated by the indigenous Apatani community in March and April every year. The dead cat was used in a ceremony, and its blood was sacrificed to the deity for goodwill of their family and for ensuring a good harvest, protection from wildlife, disease and pest.[9]

Conservation[edit]

Pardofelis marmorata is included in CITES Appendix I and protected over parts of its range. Hunting is prohibited in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Yunnan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, and Thailand. Hunting is regulated in Lao PDR and Singapore. In Bhutan and Brunei, the marbled cat is not legally protected outside protected areas. No information about protection status is available from Cambodia and Vietnam.[10]

The only captive marbled cats registered by ISIS are a pair kept at a breeding center in the United Arab Emirates.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Grubb, P. (16 November 2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ a b c d Hearn, A., Sanderson, J., Ross, J., Wilting, A., Sunarto, S., Ahmed Khan, J., Mukherjee, S., Grassman, L. (2008). "Pardofelis marmorata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 
  3. ^ Hemmer, H. (1978). "The evolutionary systematics of living Felidae: Present status and current problems". Carnivore 1: 71–79. 
  4. ^ Johnson, W. E., Eizirik, E., Pecon-Slattery, J., Murphy, W. J., Antunes, A., Teeling, E., O'Brien, S. J. (2006). The late miocene radiation of modern felidae: A genetic assessment. Science 311: 73–77
  5. ^ a b c Sunquist, M.; Sunquist, F. (2002). Wild cats of the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 373–376. ISBN 0-226-77999-8. 
  6. ^ Pocock, R.I. (1939). The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Mammalia. – Volume 1. Taylor and Francis, London.
  7. ^ Martin, W. C. (1836). November 8, 1836. (Felis marmorata). Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. Part IV, No. XLVII: 107–108.
  8. ^ Grassman, L.I. Jr., Tewes, M.E. (2000). "Marbled cat in northeastern Thailand". Cat News 33: 24. 
  9. ^ Selvan, K.M., G.V. Gopi, B. Habib and S. Lyngdoh (2013). Hunting record of endangered Marbled Cat Pardofelis marmorata in the Ziro Valley of Lower Subansiri, Arunachal Pradesh, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 5(1): 3583–3584.
  10. ^ Nowell, K. and Jackson, P. (1996). Marbled Cat Felis marmorata. in: Wild Cats. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
  11. ^ Captive Pardofelis marmorata in zoos - ISIS. Version 4 November 2010
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