|Future of The World|
|This is a part of Future of The World: a collaborative project about our planet's future|
Moonlions (Felis luna) are a nomadic species of cat descended from domestic cats present in North America.
Cats about the size of coyotes, moonlions are largely similar to caracals, having a strong, stocky build, adapted for chasing down small mammals and leaping to catch birds. Their legs are particularly powerful, as moonlion evolution has favored those able to make long leaps, whether to pounce on prey from above or to catch birds and bats from below.
The species is about 115cm to 211cm centimeters long, with a tail of about 49 to 66 centimeters. Shoulder height is 31 to 41 centimeters, and weight is 22kg on average. There is fairly little sexual dimorphism.
Moonlions are born in litters of six, just like modern cats. They have a pregancy of three months and are weaned at the age of eight months. At ten months both male and female kittens disperse. Frequently male and female mates will travel together.
Moonlions have a social structure that is somewhat similar to that of cougars. They will travel in groups in of two or three, usually two females, one of each gender, or two females and a male.
They are nomadic, and prefer to travel at night (stereotypically during the full moon, though that's simply when it is easiest to see them) to avoid larger predators, such as descendents of Canis lupus and Puma concolor. Due to their nomadic habits, they aren't actually territorial, though they will act moderately aggressively towards other groups of moonlions.
In the human era, domestic cats (Felis catus) were introduced to regions of the world where they had not been present before. After humans vanished, feral cats remained, and over time evolved to take advantage of mesopredator niches left behind after the decline of native mesopredators such as bobcats and foxes. The decline of such native predators left behind just enough of a gap for domestic cats to exploit, although they still face competition.
As they did, they grew larger, to better catch medium-sized prey such as rabbits, squirrels, and even small deer. Since they were no longer as small as they used to be, they could not form colonies.
Habitat and DistributionEdit
The moonlion is found in a variety of habitats, although it is usually more common in more heavily forested areas than open spaces. Moonlions, not being as well adapted for colder climates as predators like foxes or bobcats, are more common in the southern reaches of North America, where they have wide ranges. However, there are populations in Central America, and even South America, but these are much smaller than those in North America.