Members of the Felidae, being found at the top of the trophic hierarchy in an ecosystem, usually require extremely large habitat ranges. Thus, most cat species are found only on continents or large islands. The leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis, the most widespread species of East Asian cat, is an exception to this rule, occurring on several small islands as well as larger islands and the Asian continent. Using published data for 38 East Asian islands, I evaluated the effects of geographical and biological factors on the persistence of the leopard cat population on an island by using regression analyses. The results suggested that the probability of existence of this cat species on an island increased with increasing species richness of potential prey, or with decreasing species richness of potential competitors. Geographical variation in the feeding habits of the leopard cat was also examined to clarify its ecological adaptation to different environments. The leopard cat chiefly preys on rodents but occasionally also feeds on other kinds of animals depending on region. On small islands with a small number of carnivore species, the cat frequently feeds on non-mammalian prey. This suggests that the cat potentially utilizes a variety of food items. The diet width of the leopard cat may be being determined by availability of prey items and intensity of interspecific competition.
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Vol. 34 • No. 4