You are here:

Wild Animals/felines vs bears and canids


hi Jonathan:

i've heard a lot about felines and how deadly and effective they are as hunters and combatants. i don't really think cats are the greatest predators to evolve. i'd say bears are much more successful animals. plus canids such as wolves and dogs do much better as a team but i'm no professional. what would u say about it? do u think a bengal tiger is superior to a brown bear? would u give a cougar the advantage against a dire wolf or a large working lgd like say a 175 lbs boz shepherd or caucasian ovcharka? (i'm trying to pick a similar sized canid).

i hear that bears have thick hide and dense fat that offers great protection, plus they have larger more damaging claws, and bigger heads giving them a heck of a bite. is it true?

about arctodus simus the giant short faced bear, don't u think they were much deadlier than any cat species?

which is more formidable in your opinion bears or cats?

thaaaaanx a lot in advance

Dear Max

Thank you for your question. I also wish to thank the authors of the websites I used.

First of all, it is rather difficult to determine the greatest predator to evolve, as this would include various prehistoric animals. There is some controversy about whether Tyrannosaurus was a predator or scavenger; there was an exhibition at London's Natural History Museum a few years ago ( and I also went to a talk by Jack Horner, perhaps the world authority on the subject. Since then, larger predatory dinosaurs have been discovered that could rank as the greatest predator to evolve. and give various prehistoric sea animals, of which Megalodon must have been very ferocious. If I were to choose the greatest natural predator today, it would be the orca or killer whale, although there is something to be said for the sperm whale.  

Most cats feed almost only on flesh, while many other land members of the Carnivora also eat some vegetation. The polar bear is the most carnivorous bear species, but will eat some vegetation. Please note that elephants are very powerful animals, but feed mostly on vegetation, although there are accounts of elephants eating meat ( I would therefore say that most bears are powerful omnivores, rather than predators. While the polar bear is a powerful predator, it is losing out to the more omnivorous, and therefore more versatile, brown bear.

The larger bears are far larger than the largest cats, but I'm not sure if this makes bears more successful than cats. There are more species of cats and they cover a far wider range - there is only one species of bear in South America and the extinction of the Atlas bear in the 1870s means there are no living bears in Africa (see Alternatively, there are no wild cats in the Arctic. Cats are dead;y and effective predators and can fight using their claws and teeth. Dogs can work as a team to bring down larger prey, especially when food is scarce.

I don't like thinking about one species being superior to another, as different species are adapted to survive in different ways. The way of life of a Bengal tiger is very different to that of a brown bear; similarly, a cougar has a different way of life to that of a dire wolf. I would guess that the cougar is better adapted, mainly because it still exists and occurs in various habitats, but states that the dire wolf also adapted to various habitats.

BK answers questions about Interspecies Conflicts ( Please note that individuals of a species can vary in temperament and that animals tend to avoid fighting, especially if they have little chance of winning.

You are right in saying that bears have thick hides and dense fat that offer protection, as well as insulation, and that they have large claws and a powerful bite. says that the giant short faced bear seems to have been totally carnivorous and, due to its size, it is highly possible that it was much deadlier than any cat species.

Bears are more powerful than cats, but cats are more agile, so I cannot be certain which are more formidable, but a giant short-faced bear would be far more formidable than a sand cat.

All the best


Wild Animals

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Jonathan Wright


I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.


I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

©2016 All rights reserved.