(felis leopardus, Linn.), A carnivorous mammal of Africa and India, often confounded with the African panther (F. pardus, Linn.), but of smaller size, paler yellow color, and with more numerous rows of spots. It is very graceful, slender, and active, the body being about 38 in. long, the tail 27, and the height 26; the ground color of the fur is tawny yellow, whitish below, the sides and back with numerous circles formed of from three to five spots of black; the head, fore quarter, and limbs marked with irregularly shaped spots; the color within the circles being darker renders them more distinct; according to F. Cuvier, ten of these ringed spots can be counted in a perpendicular line from the back to the under parts. The leopard inhabits thick forests, preying upon antelopes, deer, and mammals of similar size, and even sheep, hares, and wild and domestic fowls; being an excellent climber, it resorts to trees in pursuit of game or for safety; it is taken in traps, or shot from trees into which it has been pursued by dogs. It is frequently seen in captivity, and occasionally breeds in confinement, being gravid nine weeks, and the young born blind.
This animal is considered by many authorities as the same with the panther, and by equally good ones as distinct. (See Panther.) - The hunting leopard of Africa (felis jubata, Schreb.), which Wag-ler has elevated to a genus cynailurus, is a very interesting animal, having the colors and appearance of the larger spotted cats, and yet with a form and a susceptibility of being trained like the dog, so much so that Cuvier calls it a canine cat. The color is bright tawny yellow, covered with full, round, black spots equally distributed; there is a mane of longer hair on the neck; the legs are longer than in the leopard, and the claws are not retractile; the length is 3 1/2 ft. With the strength, suppleness, teeth, and powerful jaws of the cats, it wants their sharp claws and ferocious disposition; it is easily tamed, and is trained to chase deer like a hound; the hair has a crispness like that of the dog. This animal, called chetali and guepard, performs among mammals the part of the falcons among birds; its natural instinct is to pursue game, and the reward of a portion induces it to yield the rest to the master. In Africa the hunting leopard is valued only for the skin, which is worn by persons of distinction and commands a high price.
An Asiatic variety (C. venations, Griff.), which is maneless, has been used from very early periods, especially in the Mogul empire, for hunting purposes; it is said that some of the emperors went to the field accompanied by 1,000 of these leopards; this sport is now confined to India and Persia. The leopards are so tame that they are led in a leash like greyhounds, with eyes covered; on approaching the game, they are unhooded and let free, and very soon pull down the victim, prostrating it by a blow of the paw, and sucking the blood from the throat. Their disposition is so gentle that they live amicably with domestic animals and with children, purring when caressed. This animal forms a connecting link between the dogs and cats.
African Hunting Leopard (Felis jubata).