Let’s start with seeing the differences in those big cats that have black spots on tan; the cheetah, the leopard, and the jaguar.
The IKs* are fairly simple, and if you can remember them, you will never have trouble telling these black & tans apart again!
Cheetah IK: Believe it or not, the only big cat with simple round black spots is the cheetah.
Leopard IK: This cat has a flower-like pattern of black spots called rosettes. They are the same size all over the body. There is a slightly different fur color inside each one.
Jaguar IK: Jaguars also have rosettes, but they are larger in the middle of the body, and have black dots inside. There is a slightly different fur color inside each one.
Okay, so what cat is in the photo above?
Look for my next post on the patterns of clouded leopard vs snow leopard.*On many of my blog posts, I will provide some specific Identification Keys, or IKs, as seen and described in the photos. (More about identification keys here.)