The Panthera wontis, often referred to as the wonton cat or dumpling cat (depending on the region), is a wild cat native only to Taiwan. Once spotted all around the country, the population of the feline has decreased within the last fifty years. In 2009, animal conservationists of the IUCN have declared that the species is near extinction, and should be protected at all costs. The last few surviving wonton cats have made their way to a deserted village in the Ruifang District of Taiwan. Due to the many stray cats that have been drawn to the area, the home of the wonton cat is now known as the Houtong Cat Village (猴硐貓村). Natives and tourists of all backgrounds travel to the village in hopes of being able to spot the cat. A face to face encounter with the feline, accompanied by a roar, is said to be a blessing of good luck from the gods.


Along with the other felines in its family, the wonton cat has a long and nimble body. The appearance of the cat is similar to that of a snow leopard, only without the leopard’s markings. Its seemingly gentle face attracts animals and humans alike, until the feline howls and exhibits its ferocious fangs. A notable characteristic of the feline, is the thicker tuft of fur along its backside, that reaches from its skull to its tail. As the thicker fur reaches the tail, it begins to look more erect, as if they were spikes. Many have compared the animal to a large dumpling, which is where the name originated from. 


The feline's uncommonly soft fur has been sought out by both fur traders and those of elite status. Poachers took note of this demand and hunted them to near extinction. It wasn't until 2009, when the IUCN classified the felines as endangered. News of this reached the Taiwanese natives, who were unhappy and demanded the poachers suffer. Many of the natives formed their own group, in which they would capture and torture any poachers intended to harm the animal. The Taiwanese government chose to turn a blind eye to the violent mob, in hopes of scaring off poachers. This method turned out to be successful, as the population of the wonton cat began to slowly increase. Though the species still remains endangered, the population has increased from 37 to near one hundred within the last ten years. 

Currently four wonton cats are being held in captivity, much to the dismay of the public. When they were first captured, zoologists claimed they wanted to learn more about the animal, but there are many who accuse the scientists of performing dreadful tests on the creatures. The organization, Felines For All (FFA), have not responded to the public's accusations. FFA has also not shown any proof of the habitat sanctuary they are claiming to provide for the wonton cats. This has lead to countless mobs being posted outside the facilities insisting on the felines' freedom.

suzanne gow