Red Pandas And Cats | 5 Answers You Should Know


Probably, red pandas could be another kind of wild cat. But to be sure about this, I did some research on both creatures.

So I’ve made this article to answer some of the most pressing questions relating to red pandas and cats. Now, let’s get started!

Table of Contents

No, red pandas are not related to cats. Red pandas just look a bit like cats and share some similarities with them. However, they are different in a lot of aspects. See the differences below.

CategoryRed PandaCat
Family Ailuridae Felidae 
Size Body: 20-26 in. (50-65 cm)
Tail: 12-24 in. (30-50 cm) tail
Body: 18 in. (46 cm)
Tail: 2 in. (30 cm)
DietHerbivorous Carnivorous 
Companionship Cannot petCan be pets 
SoundsGrowls, grunts, barks, hoots, twitters, and huff quacks. Meow, trills, purrs, Hiss n’ spit, Howl n’ yowl, etc. 
Paw DigitsFive true fingers with an extra thumb-like digit (pseudo-thumb)Five true fingers only

Family

When it comes to family, red pandas belong to the Ailuridae family of animals. In addition, they are the only living members of their family. 

This equally means red pandas have no relative at all.

And cats are not an exception to this! Speaking of cats, these creatures belong to the popular Felidae family. Furthermore, this cat family includes a wide variety of large cats too.

Cats are just the smallest members. Some relatives to cats include tigers, lions, Jaguars, pumas, etc.

Size

Red pandas are naturally slightly bigger than all domestic cats. Their total body length is about 20-26 in. (50-65 cm) without their tails, which are about 12-24 in. (30-50 cm). 

In addition, red pandas weigh about 7-13 lbs. (3-6 kg). Cats on the other hand have an average body length of 18 in. (46 cm) with a tail length of 12 in. (30 cm). 

Both the body length and tail length of cats are quite smaller than that of a red panda. Moreover, cats also weigh about 9-11 lbs. (4-5 kg)

Diet

Cute Red Panda Eating Bamboo Leaves

For many years now, red pandas have lived primarily as herbivores. They eat mostly plants, especially bamboo. In addition, bamboo is mostly what they survive on throughout their lives.

A Cute Cat Eating Fresh Meat

Cats, on the other hand, are carnivores. They need lots of protein! So meat is just what they need in their diet – cooked beef, cooked chicken, etc.  They are equally not bamboo eaters like red pandas.

RECOMMENDED READING: ARE RED PANDAS HERBIVORES OR CARNIVORES? 

Companionship

A Lady Petting Her Cat

Now here’s another difference between red pandas and cats. Kitties make great companion animals just like many other domestic pets. They are among the most popular pets around the world. 

Even if they live freely outside the home, it’s normally in areas humans are living. 

On the other hand, red pandas aren’t companion animals at all. Unfortunately, despite how cute and calm they are, you can’t own them as pets. 

Having a red panda might have felt like having a cat. But that’s not true at all. These creatures have needs humans can’t easily meet. And the people who tried keeping them as pets ended up getting them killed. 

Unlike cats, red pandas are better off living in the wild or in zoos around the world. They are wild animals and equally do not like human company.

Red pandas live alone and rarely interact with their kinds or any other animal.

Sound

Red pandas sound nothing like cats. They have different sounds they use to communicate which are different from the way cats talk. These pandas make sounds such as growls, grunts, barks, hoots, twitters, and huff quacks. 

Cats, on the other hand, are known for their famous “meow” sound, which is a language red pandas do not speak nor understand. 

Moreover, you’ll see cats making other different noises such as trills, purrs, Hiss n’ spit, Howl n’ yowl, etc. 

So if a red panda and cat should interact, that would bring about confusion. They are just two different kinds of animals!

Paw Digits

This is one incredible difference between red pandas and cats. One of the most interesting features of the red pandas is the presence of an extra thumb-like digit on their paws – the semi-opposable false thumb.

This thumb-like digit adds up to the red pandas’ five true fingers making it a total number of six digits. 

A Cat's Front Paw

On the other hand, cats do not have an extra false digit on their paws. Their paws only contain five true digits.

Are Red Pandas Bigger Than Cats?

Yes, red pandas are normally bigger than cats. However, the size difference isn’t that much. A red panda’s total body length can reach up to 26 in (65 cm) and a cat can reach about 18 in (46 cm). 

When describing red pandas, especially their size, we normally use cats. Probably, you must have heard of this common description, “red pandas are slightly larger than cats!”

Do Red Pandas Like Cats?

No, red pandas do not like cats. One of the reasons is that red pandas aren’t the kind of friendly animals that like to socialize with other animals. Hence, this is just the same case with cats! 

Funnily, these creatures are loners and don’t even like the company of their kind. So there’s no reason in this world that they should like cats even for food. Talking about food, let’s find out next if red pandas do eat cats.

Do Red Pandas Eat Cats?

Nope! Red pandas do not eat cats. Red pandas do not like eating meat. And if red pandas choose to eat meat during the day, cats are not the kind of animals they can eat. 

Red pandas hunt and eat smaller animals like birds and lizards. 

And you can find these animals living in the red pandas’ habitat. In addition, cats are not the kind of animals you can find in the red pandas’ habitats so they are not the natural prey of the red panda. 

However, the bigger cats like snow and clouded leopards are exceptions. They are natural predators of red pandas.

Are There Cats That Look Like Red Pandas?

Yes, many cats in the world look like red pandas. Let’s look at some of these cats below:

Abyssinian

Abyssinian - A Cat Breed that Looks Like a Red Panda

Somali Cat

Somali Cat - A Cat Breed That Looks Like a Red Panda

Maine Coon – Gentle Red Giant

Main Coon - A Cat Breed That Looks Like a Red Panda

Red Munchkin Cat

Red Munchkin Cat - A Cat Breed That Looks Like a Red Panda

Chausie Cat

Chausie Cat - A Cat Breed That Looks Like a Red Panda

Devon Rex

Devon Rex - A Cat Breed That Looks Like a Red Panda

Final Thoughts

In summary, red pandas are not related to cats. They both belong to different families. Red pandas belong to the Ailuridae family and they are the only members.

Cats, on the other hand, are the smallest members of the Felidae family. Additionally, red pandas are slightly bigger than cats.

A cat makes a great pet at home. But this is not the case with red pandas. They’re wild and not companion animals.

In addition, both animals sound different and have different means of communication. And the extra pseudo thumb you’ll find on a red panda’s paw is absent on a cat’s paw.

Remember also that red pandas cannot get along with cats. For some reason, they don’t like cats. Nevertheless, cats cannot be a part of a red panda’s diet.

Unlike cats, it’s easy for anyone to believe that red pandas are raccoons’ cousins. Their similar looks and fur patterns make me think red pandas are “red” raccoons

But do you want to know if raccoons are the true red pandas’ cousins? Here’s everything you need to know!