Jungle cats are the largest living member of the Felis species. They can get to about 3-4 times the size of a domestic cat and their lanky build resembles that of a serval. Depending on its range country, the species’ coat colouring varies between a uniform, unspotted reddish or sandy brown, to a tawny grey. However, some individuals do have a speckled look to their coats, which is caused by the fine black-tips of guard hairs. Like most other feline species, kittens are spotted and striped at birth, and lose these markings once they reach sexual maturity. The only markings retained as adults are the dark arm bands on the forelimbs and hindlimbs (a visible marker of the species) , and very faint rings towards the end of the tail.
They have long, slender faces with a bright white muzzle, white lines above and below the eyes, and tear lines in front of their eyes, and along the side of the nose. Unlike the fishing cat and the rusty-spotted cat, the back of a jungle cat’s ears have no distinct spots. Their ears are set close together at the top of their head, and are topped with a tuft of short – but distinct – black hairs. Its ear tufts, long limbs and short tail, caused scientists to originally assume that the species was related to lynxes. However they were later included in the genus Felis.
Jungle cats are one of the 11 species of melanistic wild cat, meaning that in rare cases, an individual can be completely black. Melanistic jungle cats have been recorded in the wild – regularly occurring in southeastern Pakistan – and in captivity.