All cats, from lions to housecats, are part of the Felidae family. But within this big family, scientists separate them into two subfamilies– the big cats, and the little cats. The big cats  include tigers, leopards, lions, and panthers, and the little cats group contains everything else. That includes things that you’d expect to find under “little cats,” like housecats, ocelots, and servals, but there are some big cats that are considered little cats too. That’s because, despite the name, big and little cats aren’t separated by their size, but by whether or not they can purr. Lions, tigers, leopards, and pumas’ throats and voiceboxes allow them to roar, but they don’t have the right physical structure to let them purr. The little cats’ throat bones and voice boxes are just right for purring. And not all the cats who can purr look little– cheetahs and pumas both fall into the little cat family!

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