Interspecies Conflict/Battle of the Cats


Hi, BK, I have some matchups that I've been curious about for some time. Assume the smilidon are Smilidon Populator and all cats to be male,unless stated otherwise, please.

Smilidon vs Liger/Tigon
3 Smilidon vs pride of 2 male lions and 3 females
5 Smilidon vs 6 lions
Tiger vs Lion
3 tigers vs 3 lions
Jaguar vs Leopard
Puma vs Snow Leopard.
Could you also analyze how well a domesticated cat could fight and survive in the wild?

Hello Yulei Xu.

Smilodon vs Liger/Tigon: Smilodon populator weighed as much as 400kg, which is almost as much as a liger's weight and about twice as much as a tigon's weight.  Smilodons were stocky & powerfully built, and were able to wrestle large prey items to the ground to impale them (usually in a vulnerable, soft area like the neck) with their long upper canines.  Ligers (cross between a male lion & female tiger) are huge cats, but they do not have the same level of hunting/fighting instincts & abilities as regular lions & tigers.  The endurance of these relatively docile cats isn't great, and a single one would be out of its league against a Smilodon populator.  The smaller tigon (cross between a male tiger & female lion) would be overwhelmed as well.  Smilodon wins.

3 Smilodons vs lion pride (2 males; 3 females): A Smilodon can weigh over 60% more than a male lion and over twice as much as a lioness.  Lions work well together as a team, but this pride will need to divide its forces to attack the 3 Smilodons.  Lions are quicker & more agile than Smilodons, but won't have the power to control positioning once physical contact is made.  2 male lions would be able to overpower a single Smilodon, but the other members of the pride would be in big trouble against the remaining 2.  The lions simply don't have enough numbers to pull this off.  Adding another male lion or 2 females (or making it 2 Smilodons) might make it closer.  3 Smilodons win.

5 Smilodons vs 6 lions: Each Smilodon will weigh about 60% more than each lion.  While one Smilodon will possibly be dealing with 2 lions, the other one-on-one confrontations will heavily favor the much larger, more powerful Smilodons.  Lions work well as a team to tackle a single animal much larger than themselves (like a Cape buffalo), but their teamwork won't come into play against multiple opponents because their forces will need to split up.  At least 2-3 more lions will be needed to give the pride a chance against these formidable prehistoric cats.  5 Smilodons win.

Tiger vs Lion: A tiger will typically have a small weight advantage over a lion (from 10-20% more).  These are 2 very similar creatures biologically, and there are only subtle differences between the two (in regards to strength, speed, agility, etc.).  Lions form prides, and this aids them in hunting.  The lionesses do the majority of the hunting (the males seldom join in), but the male lion is charged with the protection of the pride.  Other male lions will attempt to invade the pride to gain territory & females, and the leader of the pride must do battle to keep his throne.  As a result, male lions are constantly fighting other male lions.  This is a big reason that the average lifespan of a male lion is 5 years less than the average lifespan of a lioness.  Even at kills, lions will fight amongst themselves for their share of the food.  Tigers are usually solitary hunters (hunting in pairs has occurred), but males will fight over territory.  In regards to prey items, tigers can ambush and kill large prey on its own (gaur & buffalo).  The male lion isn't as practiced a hunter as the tiger (lioness do most of the hunting for it), but there is a big difference between hunting and fighting.  For example, the cheetah is a fantastic hunter, but is a poor fighter.  In fighting skill, I would probably give the lion the nod over the tiger.  The lion's mane is also worth mentioning.  Although its main purpose is for intimidation & attracting females, it can soften the impact of blows from another cat, so it probably can be considered an advantage.  A battle between a tiger and a lion will primarily be a paw swipe war, but grabbing & biting will also occur.  At equal weights I slightly favor the lion, but at average or max weights, I favor the tiger.  Edge to tiger.

3 tigers vs 3 lions: The tigers will typically have a small weight advantage over the lions.  Lions work well as a group against a single large opponent, but in this matchup each lion will need to face each tiger solo.  Lions might have a slight edge in fighting ability, but the weight difference will be an advantage for the tigers.  Lion vs tiger matchups can go either way depending on the individuals involved, and the same applies to 3-on-3.  More times than not the heavier tigers will have the edge.  Edge to 3 tigers.

Jaguar vs Leopard: These cats look similar at a glance, but a jaguar is typically heavier (by 50% or more) than a leopard.  Both are among the strongest cats pound-for-pound.  Jaguars are stocky, muscular, and have the greatest bite forces for their size among big cats (capable of crunching through turtle shells & caiman armor).  They kill with a crushing bite to the skull or spine, and can be very aggressive.  Leopards are less robust than jaguars, but are very capable hunters/fighters themselves.  They are known for their ability to drag large prey items into trees (lions & hyenas may try to steal prey items from leopards; the trees provide safety).  Both cats are impressive, but the larger jaguar will use its greater strength to control positioning at the onset of the battle, and will be able to finish with its jaws on most occasions.  Jaguar wins.

Puma vs Snow leopard: A puma can weigh over 40% more than a snow leopard.  Pumas are extremely athletic cats with long legs and great leaping ability.  They are great hunters (masters of stealth), and can overpower large cervids by tackling them to the ground and finishing with a bite to the throat, snout, or back of the skull.  Snow leopards are capable hunters as well, and can overpower herbivores much larger than themselves.  Both cats have strong jaws, sharp teeth & claws, quickness & agility, and finishing know-how.  However, the puma has a decent size advantage here, and that can be key in a matchup of 2 animals with similar abilities.  Pumas can be quite combative (sometimes defending den sites against bears & wolves), and will be favored against the smaller snow leopard.  Puma wins.

Q: How well could a domestic cat fight and survive in the wild?
A: Cats typically have quickness, agility, and sharp teeth/claws that give them the ability to be effective fighters.  They are also born with the instinct to hunt & kill, and have a diverse enough menu to find prey in most locations.  A tame pet cat that isn't familiar with outdoor life will struggle more than a feral cat initially, but will have the tools to adapt & survive in many situations.  The chance of it walking into a danger it hasn't encountered before is certainly there, but it won't be without hope.  Many wild cat species (Geoffroy's cat, Andean cat, black-footed cat, flat-headed cat, sand cat, etc.) are physically similar to domestic cats in size & appearance, and manage quite well in their respective habitats.  The biggest problem a domestic cat will have is the adaptation process.  It won't be as savvy as a wild cat when it comes to avoiding danger (like foxes, feral dogs, venomous snakes, birds-of-prey, etc.), and it won't be as practiced a fighter.  A domestic cat won't do as well as a cat already familiar with outdoor wild life (like a rural farm cat or feral cat), but will have a decent chance to survive with its extraordinary senses & instinctive abilities.  Even a cat adapted to outdoor urban life will struggle with an initial transition to the wild, but can do OK once it gets used to its new surroundings.  There are different levels of domestication, of course, and some pampered, exclusively indoor cats might not have a good chance to survive in the wild while others may blend right in.  Some will fight & survive better than others.  Overall, a domestic cat won't do as well as a cat already in the wild, but will have a chance to be successful.

Best regards.  

Interspecies Conflict

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Questions regarding animal conflicts within realistic or unrealistic settings are welcome; my strength lies in medium-to-large species. Small animals (including birds of prey), prehistoric animals, sea creatures, and domestic dog breeds are usually within my scope, but to a lesser degree. I can't confidently answer hypothetical questions about human vs animal, arachnids, insects, or amphibians, but I am willing to field them nonetheless.


From a young age, I have been interested in animals. Starting with the original Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and World Book Encyclopedias, I have seen many animal shows and documentaries and have read multiple books on the subject. I have a solid understanding of the physiology of many animals and interspecies conflict in general.

Associate degree in unrelated field; biology classes in college.

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