Many cat owners refer to their cat as a “tiny tiger” -especially those cats with a striped pattern in their fur. Do our pets really have anything in common with actual tigers? Actually, they have quite a bit in common. There are also a lot of differences that make tigers and house cats unique and amazing.

Similarities Between Tigers and House Cats

Tiger verses House Cat Tiger face

Photo Credit : Mike Davison

  • Both house cats and tigers can purr, however, tigers can only purr while breathing out.
  • Both are strict carnivores.
  • Both are nocturnal.
  • Both will sleep between 16 and 20 hours each day.
  • Both have scent glands in their cheeks, paws, and near their tail, which along with urine, are used to mark territory.
  • Both spend much of their wakeful time grooming themselves. Tigers need to remove as much scent from themselves as possible so that their prey won’t know they’re around.

    Tiger verses House Cat Cinco standing up

    Cinco showing off his stripes

  • Both tigers and house cats have 230 bones in their bodies. They even have the same number of vertebrae – 30.
  • Both can see well in the dark because of something called the Tapetum Lucidum in the back of their eyes. It helps to reflect and recapture light. It is also what causes cats to have “laser eyes” in photographs taken with flash.
  • Both can climb.
  • Both have the same number and placement of teeth, however, tigers and house cats use their teeth in different ways.
  • Both stalk and hunt.
  • Both can retract their claws.
  • Both love to play.

Things Tigers Don’t Share with House Cats

  • Tigers can weigh from 200 lb (91 kg) to over 700 lb (318 kg). The Guinness Book of World records holds the largest tiger to have been 857 lb (389 kg).  The average weight for house cats is 6-10 lbs (3-5 kg).

    Tiger verses House Cat Tiger laying down

    Photo credit : Brian Gratwicke

  • Tigers love water and swim very well.
  • Tigers can eat up to 90 lb (41 kg) of meat per meal and may go a few days between meals.
  • A tiger’s claws can be up to 4 inches (10 cm) long.
  • Tigers have been known to eat humans.
  • Tigers are an endangered species. There are more tigers in captivity in the U.S. alone that there are total in the wild. House cats on the other hand suffer from a serious over-population problem.
  • Tigers can leap forward an amazing 32.5 feet (10 m)! Imagine being pounced like that in the morning for food!
  • A Tiger’s roar can be heard for up to 2 miles.
  • Tigers hear a slightly higher range of pitches than house cats, but house cats hear lower pitches than tigers do. Tigers can hear pitches from .2 kHz – 65 kHz while house cats hear pitches from .045 kHz – 64 kHz.  Both ranges are much larger than a human’s (.64 kHz – 23 kHz).
  • A tiger’s heart beats much more slowly than a house cat’s does.  A tiger’s heart beat ranges from 56-97 bpm while a house cat’s ranges from 140-240 bpm. For comparison, the typical resting heart rate of a human is 60-100 bpm.
  • In the wild, a tiger will travel 6 – 20 miles per night to find food.

What is your favorite big kitty?