The caracal is a graceful, slender, cat with a short, thick coat and characteristic long black-tufted ears. Its body color ranges from tawny-gray to reddish-brown, and sometimes entirely black “melanotic” animals may occur. They have distinctive narrow black stripes running from their eye to their nose and down the middle of their forehead, and their eyes are yellow-brown, with circular pupils instead of slits. The kittens feature reddish spots on their undersides, which adults do not have. Caracals are solitary animals, except during mating and the rearing of kittens. Males and females are both territorial and have an active home range. A male’s territory may overlap the range of several other males, but a female’s entire territory is for her individual use. Primarily nocturnal, sometimes caracals are seen during the day, particularly in undisturbed regions. Although terrestrial, they are skilled climbers as well, with tenacious attitudes. The time of hunting is usually regulated by prey activity, though caracals usually hunt at night.
“Caracal” comes from the Turkish "Karakulak," meaning "Black Ear".
The caracal has long, strong back legs and is able to jump as high as 3 meters to catch birds in flight. It can catch as many as 12 birds in one leap.
“To put the cat among the pigeons” is in reference to the caracal. It was once trained for hunting game birds for Persian and Indian royalty, due to its remarking leaping ability.