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Big cats are among the most revered and feared animals on earth. Biologists consider six species to be big cats: leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, lions, snow leopards, and tigers. Other big cat facts include their unique breeding patterns and social structures. While many of these animals are elusive to see in the wild, the sight of a big cat can be a life-changing experience.
Big cats have similar breeding and mating practices in most cases. In general, these cats are mostly solitary. Adult females only living with other members of their species when with their young.
Lions are the only big cats to live in groups (known as prides) and adult male cheetahs live in pairs. Cats in colder climates generally mate in the winter and have their young in the spring. Cats in warm climates generally mate year round.
Females begin mating at 2-4 years of age. Their gestation period averages between 90 and 110 days and depends on the species. Female cats usually will have their cubs in dens or areas protected by vegetation.
Mother cats have typically 1 – 4 cubs in a litter, while some cats, like cheetahs can have up to 9 cubs in a litter. The cubs are born with their eyes closed, and don’t open them until between a 1 and 2 weeks old.