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The Asian golden cat is a medium-sized cat with a head-to-body length of 66-105 cm (26-41 in), with a 40-57 cm (16-22 in) long tail, and is 56 cm (22 in) tall at the shoulder. In weight, it ranges from 9 to 16 kg (20 to 35 lb), which is about two or three times that of a domestic cat (Felis catus).
Since an individual was caught alive in 1831 in Nepal, the country is thought to be the westernmost part of the Asian golden cat's range. However, it was photographed for the time in the country in May 2009 in Makalu Barun National Park at an elevation of 2,517 m (8,258 ft). In February 2019, it was also recorded in Gaurishankar Conservation Area at an elevation of 2,540 m (8,330 ft).
Asian golden cats are territorial and solitary. Previous observations suggested that they are primarily nocturnal, but a field study on two radio-collared specimens revealed arrhythmic activity patterns dominated by crepuscular and diurnal activity peaks, with much less activity late at night. In the study, the male's territory was 47.7 km2 (18.4 sq mi) in size and increased by more than 15% during the rainy season. The female's territory was 32.6 km2 (12.6 sq mi) in size. Both cats traveled between only 55 m (180 ft) to more than 9 km (5.6 mi) in a day, and were more active in July than in March.
Asian golden cats recorded in northeast India were active during the day with activity peaks around noon.
Captive Asian golden cats kill small prey with the nape bite typical of cats. They also pluck birds larger than pigeons before beginning to feed. Their vocalizations include hissing, spitting, meowing, purring, growling, and gurgling. Other methods of communication observed in captive Asian golden cats include scent marking, urine spraying, raking trees and logs with claws, and rubbing of the head against various objects – much like a domestic cat.
Not much is known about the reproductive behavior of this rather elusive cat in the wild. Most of what is known has been learned from cats in captivity. Female Asian golden cats are sexually mature between 18 and 24 months, while males mature at 24 months. Females come into estrus every 39 days, at which time they leave markings and seek contact with the male by adopting receptive postures. During intercourse, the male will seize the skin of the neck of the female with his teeth. After a gestation period of 78 to 80 days, the female gives birth in a sheltered place to a litter of one to three kittens. The kittens weigh 220 to 250 g (7.8 to 8.8 oz) at birth, but triple in size over the first eight weeks of life. They are born already possessing the adult coat pattern and open their eyes after six to twelve days. In captivity, they live for up to twenty years.
Asian golden cats are poached mainly for their fur. In Myanmar, 111 body parts from at least 110 individuals were observed in four markets surveyed between 1991 and 2006. Numbers were significantly greater than those of non-threatened species. Among the observed skins was a specimen with ocelot-like rosettes -- a rare tristis form. Three of the surveyed markets are situated on international borders with China and Thailand and cater to international buyers, although the Asian golden cat is completely protected under Myanmar's national legislation. Effective implementation and enforcement of CITES is considered inadequate.
Pardofelis temminckii is included in CITES Appendix I and fully protected over most of its range. Hunting is prohibited in Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam. Hunting is regulated in Laos. No information about protection status is available from Cambodia. In Bhutan, it is protected only within the boundaries of protected areas.
In China, the Asian golden cat is thought to be a kind of leopard and is known as "rock cat" or "yellow leopard". Different color phases have different names; those with black fur are called "inky leopards", and those with spotted coats are called "sesame leopards".
In some regions of Thailand, the Asian golden cat is called Seua fai (Thai: ; "fire tiger"). According to a regional legend, the burning of an Asian golden cat's fur drives tigers away. Eating the flesh is believed to have the same effect. The Karen people believe that simply carrying a single hair of the cat is sufficient. Many indigenous people believe the cat to be fierce, but in captivity it has been known to be docile and tranquil. In the south, it is called Kang kude () and believed to be a fierce animal that can hurt or eat livestock and larger animals such as elephants.
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