Summary of what Clouded Leopard feels like, because the old writing needed an update. Technically, I’m always clouded leopard and there is no distinction in how I experience felinity and humanity, but I’ve wanted to keep a short blurb somewhere for others to read about some of the things that are more distinctively clouded leopard.
Clouded leopard is the smallest of the big cats, being part of pantherinae, and pushes leopards’ nervosity and elusiveness to its extreme, seldom seen in the wild. It is appropriately described as ghostly. Secretive. Rare. Clouded leopard is specific – feline, leopardy, and unique, in that order. Its body is a paradox with its humble size and its impressive paws and teeth. My canines are never big enough, because clouded leopard’s are as long as a tiger’s, on a cat ten times smaller. Clouded leopard is a sabertooth very much alive, alive alive. I’m being clouded leopard when I am short and seemingly awkward and my body is a ball of muscles and intent hidden as goofiness. I’m being a clouded leopard when I feel my phantom teeth and ears and so very long tail, when my skin is spotted and marbled with cloud-like shadows and my jaws want to bite your neck hard.
You may touch clouded leopard but never hold it tight. Places you may scratch if you belong to the right category of individuals: back of the head, nape, shoulders, tummy. No touching the ears, face and feet, especially as it reveals the species dysphoria. Eye contact must remain light, non-intrusive. Sounds need to be moderate; crowd-talk is disorientating. Clouded leopard is introversion. Asocial. I’m introverted ’cause I’m a clouded leopard and I’m introverted because of intellectual giftedness, and intellectual giftedness is a raven thing and I’m a raven and clouded leopard. Still there is a need for visual, olfactive, tactile and other stimulations and novelty. Clouded leopard is the going back and forth the mind and body, sensory input, processing, adaptability, awareness, overexcitability. Touch and tongue and taste. Perception and intuition. Depth.
Clouded leopard is about intensity, but not about rage. It can be grumpiness, arrogance, cynism, and sharp edges (but less so than Jaguar). Clouded leopard is a balance of withdrawn and fierce, anxious and playful; it’s a Cat. Clouded leopard walks between worlds, between small and big felines, ancient and modern, natural and supernatural, and as such it is the liminal cat by essence. Clouded leopard is watching as the world goes on from afar; belongs to the deep forest. It doesn’t need anyone, except those who entertain its curiosity perhaps. Clouded leopard likes to be heard, but does not like being the center of attention. It is straight-forward, it does not tolerate nonsense, and it’s putting efforts into what is efficient, and not putting efforts into what isn’t worth it. I am clouded leopard when I’m careful in spending my inner resources, when I’m calculating, when I’m judging.
To me being clouded leopard is about being out in the city at night. The blue hour. Being self-conscious in broad day light and seeking for the shades. Walking in urban settings, as much as walking in the forest. Feeling a kinship with other felines but especially leopards – snow or regular – and jaguars and, maybe to a lesser extent, with ocelots, marbled cat and ancient felines. Being both graceful and clumsy at the same time. Not being the biggest predator-creature-thing out there, and content with it. Shying away from crowds. Rubbing my nose and cheeks against my partner’s shoulders. Amber, musk and sandalwood. Petrichor (“the distinctive scent which accompanies the first rain after a long warm dry spell”). Drums and thunder, and bass guitars. That urge to climb everything, anything. The way biting into tender meat makes me feel. And so many other sensations I don’t know how to put into words.
This is my small contribution to the exploration of therian animality, from the perspective of one clouded leopard individual.