TIGER - The Striped Magician:  How do you hide a cat that weighs over 600 pounds?  The tiger, in his natural element, can slide his tremendous bulk among delicate reeds, rustling leaves, and patchwork shadows and freeze rock still.  Where did he go?  That's what the tiger's prey asks themselves.  Most of the time the prey wins this high-stakes game of hide-and-seek but sometimes the tiger wins.  Often enough to live well and pass his kingdom to the next generation.

CHEETAH - The Need for Speed:  Leave hiding to the tigers and lions.  The cheetah chases his prey with a magnificent burst of speed, sometimes reaching 75 miles per hour.  He's the world's fastest land mammal.  Sometimes the cheetah overtakes his prey, but if he doesn't he'll be panting for 15 minutes before he dares run again.  With a long tail to act as a balance beam, long legs, and a whip-like spine, he's built to run.

LEOPARD - The Vertical Athlete:  The average cat can pull five times per pound what a trained human athlete can.  In tug of war, a 600 pound tiger could match 3000 combined pounds of human strength.  A leopard can pull seven times per pound what we can, and often displays this power in a heart stopping rush up the side of a tree with a full-grown antelope in his jaws.  He hides his prey where he can eat in peace, unmolested by lions and hyenas.

JAGUARONDI - The Weasel Cat:  This little known cat doesn't look like a cat at all.  Most sightings of jaguarondis--and there are few--are written off as weasels or otters.  Their long, slim body and short legs, dark grayish or brown coat, and unusual face add to the illusion.  Like otters, they also spend an unusual amount of time in the water.  They hunt mainly birds and small mammals, though they have been known to catch young deer.

IRIOMOTE CAT - The Island Ghost:  Lions may seem to pose for the camera.  The Iriomote Cat looks up at the least disturbance.  His drab gray and brown fur is hard to spot at the best of times, but he makes a quick, silent exit into the brush of the small Japanese island he calls home, and there he seems to vanish like a ghost.  It wasn't till 1965 that he was discovered by man, and he's given up few of his secrets since.

MARGAY - Cat of the Treetops:  Most cats live on a surface--margays live in a volume.  They don't just walk around, they also move up, over, and down with effortless grace.  The branches are their highways, and they eat, sleep, hunt, and raise their young in the leafy canopy of the rain forest.  Sometimes they nap upside down, hanging by their hind claws.  Drinking from the stream they may be timid as a kitten, but back in the tree tops they are bold as a tiger.

LION - The Politician of Beasts:  Lions live in groups called prides, the only living species of cat to do so.  (Sabretoothed cats probably had prides).  One or more males protect the pride and father the cubs.  Several females do the hunting and share the task of raising their offspring.  Lions have sophisticated social skills to help them live in close company, and are not just the kings--but the politicians--of beasts.

JAGUAR - Lord of the Amazon:  He looks like a leopard at first, but he is bigger and he lives on the other side of the Atlantic.  The jaguar is equally at home on the ground, in the water, or in the trees.  The native peoples called him "yaguara," the one who kills with a single jump, but they didn't blindly fear him.  To them, the jaguar was the protector of the sun by night and the bringer of good fortune.  Kings wore jaguar fur as a symbol of their authority.

COUGAR - Cat of Many Names:  Call them pumas, mountain lions, screamer cats, painters, American lions, or simply cougars.  Whatever you call them, the dust-colored cats of North America are versatile hunters, chasing rabbits or jumping out of snow-covered trees on elk and deer.  Like African lions, mountain lions are born spotted and get their solid color as they mature.  Sometimes cougars utter a piercing cry in the night that sounds just like a woman's scream.

SNOW LEOPARD - The Icy Hunter:  The steep, frigid slopes of the Himalayas welcome only the hardiest creatures.  Like the sheep they hunt, snow leopards walk treacherous mountain trails with confidence, protected from the cold by a luxurious coat.  When the blizzards come and the sky and ground blend into one white blur, he curls up and puts his long, thickly furred tail around his face like a muff.  He can sleep through a storm that would freeze a man's blood.