Intro to Felidae Family


  • Kingdom – Animalia
  • Phylum – Chordata
  • Class – Mammalia
  • Order – Carnivora
  • Family – Felidae
  • Subfamily – Pantherinae and Felinea


 The feline family can be found all over the globe except for the Arctic poles. Only in Australia and New Zealand is the domestic cat an introduced species. Everywhere else, felines have been a part of the natural fauna. These cats are characterized by supple, low-slung bodies, finely molded heads, long tails that aid in balance, and specialized teeth and claws that aid in an active hunting life. All felines are strictly carnivorous, remarkably agile and powerful, and finely coordinated in movement. Unlike canines, cats are much more independent and tend to live a solitary life, meeting only for the reproduction phase of their lives. Only a few species, like the lion, live in groups and work together to hunt and survive.

the-cat-familyThere are many species within the Felidae family that are at risk of extinction due to habitat loss, poaching, and illegal trading. Some are only considered vulnerable or near-threatened while others are already considered endangered or even critically endangered, with numbers dropping significantly over the past few decades. The domestic cat, on the other hand, has become a bit of a nuisance in some areas due to overpopulation.

The felines, under the family Felidae, are divided into two subfamilies, Pantherinae and Felinea. Genetic research has classified the species into eight unique lineages, under which are a variety of genuses.  

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThis series will cover all 11 genuses, discussing the similarities that all species under the Felidae family have, but also examining the differences that make each species unique. We will begin with anatomy and physiology and the history of feline domestication. We will also delve into topics such as behavior, health, controversial issues, and cats and society while learning in-depth about specific species, subspecies, and breeds. So come join me on this fun learning journey!

Here is a preview of the subfamilies and genuses that we will be learning about for the next few months!


The Pantherinae subfamily is comprised of all the ‘big cats’, excluding the cheetah, that we are all familiar with as children. Divided into two genuses, Panthera and Neofelis, there are only seven species within the subfamily.

Figure from Davis et al. 2010

This subfamily is thought to have split for the family Felidae and developed before the subfamily Felinea. The subfamily Pantherinae by itself is the first genetic lineage out of the eight. Despite the short list, it is just as diverse as the Felinea subfamily. The seven species and their subspecies are
spread out throughout the globe, all well-adapted to the regions they reside in.


A much larger subfamily than the Pantherinae subfamily, the Felinea subfamily can be divided into a total of nine genuses: Pardofelis, Caracal, Leopardus, Lynx, Puma, Acinonyx, Prionailurus, Otocolobus, and Felis. All cat species are medium-sized or smaller.

Felidae Ancestors Diagram O'Brien paper.jpgIt consists of the vast majority of the cat species we recognize like the cheetah, bobcat, and the domestic cat that holds a special spot in human society. However, there are also many unfamiliar species that people often don’t recognize. The oncilla, fishing cat, jaguarundi, and pallas’s cat are just to name a few.

The focal point of the Felinea subfamily during this series will the genus Felis, the domestic and wildcats. Here, we will also delve into the different breeds that are known and recognized by most cat associations. It will also be geared towards the human-feline relationship that has been developed and still is developing today.


Let’s be curious together!

Feline Anatomy Series

The Feline Skeletal Anatomy

Pantherinae Skull and Larynx Comparison

Feline Skeletal Similarities From Head to Tail

The Muscles Behind the Cat

Getting On A Cat’s Nerves: A Look Into the Feline Nervous System

Don’t Skip A Beat: A Feline’s Circulatory System

Take A Bite: A Look Into the Feline Digestive System

Under the Weather: A Look Into the Feline Immune System

Take A Breath: A Look Into the Respiratory System

Hormonal Balance: A Look Into the Feline Endocrine System

Last But Not Least: The Feline Urinary and Reproductive System

Check Out The Latest Series: Feline Senses

Can You See Me Meow? A Look into Feline Vision

Music to My Ears: Feline Hearing (and Balance)

Is That Dinner? A Look Into a Cat’s Sense of Smell

All The More To Eat With: A Look Into A Feline’s Sense of Taste


References + For More Reading

Panthera Lineage

Classification of the Panthera Lineage

Secrets of the World’s 38 Species of Wild Cats

Cat Family




3 thoughts on “Intro to Felidae Family

  1. Pingback: Pantherinae Skull and Larynx Comparison – Animal Almanac

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