All About Big Cats Unit Study

Learning all about big cats can make for an exciting unit study in your homeschool. Below is a comprehensive unit study about these amazing cats, along with a printable unit study pack! Your kids will learn about different types of cats, find interesting facts, educational videos, and more.

all about big cats unit study

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All About Big Cats Unit Study

There are 38 different cat species on the earth. The margay is a tiny species. The lion, tiger, leopard, snow leopard, clouded leopard, jaguar, lynx, and cheetah, are considered “big cat.” These cats are among the most popular and well-known in the world.

Panthera is the genus that includes the majority of bigger cats. Felis is a genus of small and medium cats, including housecats. Cheetahs, which do not have retractable claws, belong to the Acinonyx genus. These types of cats can be found in various settings around the world, from mangrove swamps in India to forested forests in the western United States.

Quick Facts

  • Common Name: Big Cats
  • Scientific Name: Felis, Panthera, Acinonyx
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • An Average Life Span: Depends on a variety of factors
  • The Average Size: 2.5 to 11 feet long
  • Average Weight: 42 to 700 pounds

The Roar Matters

The primary distinction between these cats and most of their relatives is the noises they make. Smaller cats purr and the bigger cats roar (excluding cheetahs, lynx, and snow leopards). A ligament in their voice boxes allows them to squeak, grunt, scream and create various other sounds.

Because of the particular configuration of its vocal cords, the lion’s roar is the most famous and can be heard up to five miles away.

Endangered Felines

The Siberian tiger is the world’s largest cat, weighing up to 660 pounds and stretching more than 10 feet from snout to tail. It is one of just six tiger subspecies that has survived. Tigers have been heavily hunted as trophies and used in traditional Chinese medicine, and the IUCN Red List classifies them as endangered.

These types of cats are ecosystem bellwethers since they are apex predators. If they’re doing well, so is the ecology, and vice versa.
Poaching, habitat degradation, and other environmental problems are all posing rising dangers to large cats.

Types of Cats


The lion has a muscular physique with a deep chest, a short, rounded head, round ears, and a hairy tuft at the tail’s end. Adult male lions have a prominent mane, which is sexually dimorphic.


The tiger’s bold vertical stripes on orange-brown fur with a paler underside distinguish it from other cats. It’s an apex predator that mostly eats ungulates like deer and wild boar.


The leopard is one of five extant species in the Panthera genus, which belongs to the Felidae family of cats. It can
be found in Sub-Saharan Africa, Western and Central Asia, Southern Russia, the Indian subcontinent, as well as
Southeast and East Asia.


The snow leopard is native to Central and South Asia’s alpine ranges. The IUCN Red List classifies it as Vulnerable because the global population is anticipated to be fewer than 10,000 adult individuals and is likely to drop by roughly 10% by 2040.


The clouded leopard is a large wild cat that can be found in deep woods from the Himalayan foothills to mainland Southeast Asia and southern China.


The jaguar is a big felid animal unique to the Americas and the only living member of the genus Panthera. It has a striking
coat with dots that transition to deeper rosettes on the sides and a pale yellow to tan-colored fur.


The term lynx comes from the Greek word lynx, which is derived from the Indo-European root leuk- and refers to
the luminescence of its reflected eyes.


Cheetahs are the fastest land animal, capable of speeds ranging from 80 to 128 kilometers per hour, with the fastest reliably recorded speeds being 93 and 98 kilometers per hour, and has various adaptations for speed, including a light frame, long skinny legs, and a long tail.

Educational Videos

Big Cats for Kids – Animals for Kids – Lion, Tiger, Leopard, Jaguar and more

Roar! Meet the Cats!


Books to Add to Your Unit Study

National Geographic Kids Look and Learn: Big Cats

Young readers will meet their favorite cats, like tigers and lions, as well as smaller ferocious felines such as lynx and snow leopards. Children will learn about each creature in simple, age-appropriate language paired with colorful photos. Look and Learn introduces children to the subject on one page and then shows it in real-life context on the next.

The Wild Cat Book: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Cats

From the ancient Egyptian cat goddess, Bastet, to the prophet Muhammad’s favorite cat, Muezza, and our contemporary obsession with online cat videos, felines have long held a place of honor in their human counterparts’ homes and cultures. The domestic cat is just one of many feline species, and in The Wild Cat Book cat experts, Fiona and Mel Sunquist introduce us to the full panoply of the purring, roaring feline tribe.

DKfindout! Big Cats

What’s the difference between big cats and wild catsWhat makes cheetahs the fastest animals on land? Find out the answers to these questions and more in DKfindout! Big Cats, which features stunning wildlife photography of these incredible creatures in their native environments.

Pictures to Purr About and Info to Make You Roar!

These four big predators, the lion, leopard, jaguar, and tiger, are known for their powerful roars. Kids can prowl through the lion’s to-do list and the tiger’s steak dinner to learn all about the big 4, then move beyond the big cats to see how they stock up against the pretty kitties. 

The Big Book of Wild Cats: Fun Animal Facts for Kids

Did you know that wild cats can be found on every continent except Antarctica? That’s right―there’s a whole world of wild cats to discover in this standout among animal facts books for kids! The Big Book of Wild Cats is packed with life-like illustrations, colorful photos, and fascinating facts about wild cats.

big cats unit study pack

Free Unit Study Pack

As I mentioned earlier, I have a free printable pack that will pair perfectly with this unit study. Download your copy below! You’ll get instant access to the facts and information listed above, as well as other activities!

Don’t forget to let me know what you thought about this unit study. I also want to hear from you. What types of other unit studies would you like to see here? Be sure to check out all the other ones on my blog and download the free packs that go with them!

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