• © Francois6 | Dreamstime.com
  • © Steve Winter/National Geographic Image Collection
  • © Steve Winter/National Geographic Image Collection
  • © Steve Winter/National Geographic Image Collection
  • © Wildland Adventures
  • © Steve Winter/National Geographic Image Collection

Facts About Big Cats

Big cats have similar breeding and mating practices in most cases. In general, these cats are mostly solitary, with adult females only living with other members of their species when with their young.

Lions are the only big cats to live in groups (known as prides) and adult male cheetahs live in pairs. Cats in colder climates generally mate in the winter and have their young in the spring, while cats in warm climates generally mate year round.

Females begin mating at two to four years and their gestation period averages between 90 and 110 days depending upon the species. Female cats usually will have their cubs in dens or areas protected by vegetation.

Mother cats have typically 1 – 4 cubs in a litter though some cats such as cheetahs can have up to nine cubs in a litter. The cubs are born with their eyes closed and don’t open them until between a week and two weeks.

For more facts about big cats, visit the links below.



Female tigers reach sexual maturity between three and four years while males generally take four to five years before mating. They have been reported to live as long as 26 years in the wild, longer than any other big cat. Learn more facts about tigers here.



Female lions begin mating by four years old and will sometimes mate with multiple males. The female will generally leave the pride while having a litter and will move their dens to avoid being found by predators.

The mother and her cubs will normally rejoin the pride after a couple of months. Lions live up to about 12 years in the wild. Learn more about Lions here.



Female jaguars can begin reproducing at two years old and the males between three and four years. Young jaguars will stay in the den up until about six months. Their average life span is roughly twelve to fifteen years. Learn more facts about Jaguars here.


Snow Leopards

Adult snow leopards mate in late winter and the females will be pregnant from 90 to 100 days. They become sexually mature between two and three years and have litters of one to five cubs.

The cubs can walk in about five weeks, wean from their mother’s milk by ten weeks, first leave the den by four months, and are independent by two years old. Researchers are not sure how long the adults can live in the wild. 



Female leopards start breeding by age two and males will begin mating between three and four years old. The cubs have a high rate of infant mortality, with up to half of them dying before their first birthday. The cubs begin hunting by about three months old and will stay with their mother for up to two years.



Female cheetahs begin reproducing within two years and males generally begin mating by three years old. The females often mate with multiple males and can have up to nine cubs though the average is between three and five. Cubs stay with their mothers for up to twenty months and can live as long as twelve years in the wild.


What Is SEEtheWILD?

We're a non-profit organization that promotes conservation travel through wildlife tours that help protect endangered species. We work with quality tour operators who have passed our criteria to ensure low environmental impact. We're part of The Ocean Foundation.

Feature Big Cat Trip

Desert & Delta: Namibia & Botswana

Visit communal conservancies and explore the Namib Desert and Okavango Delta on game drives and walking safaris.

Price: $6,195 pp / Dates: Year Round

© Wildland Adventures

Big Cat Conservation Trips

© Tambako the Jaguar - Flickr

SEEtheWILD Top Destinations

© Steve Winter/National Geographic Image Collection
© Steve Winter/National Geographic Image Collection
south african leopards
© Wildland Adventures