So, in a post-apocalyptic setting, when humans have gone extinct and their cities fell into ruin, I was wondering what animals might evolve to conquer the ruins of our cities.

Notice: I know that all our structures (except for stuff like Mount Rushmore and Petra.) would probably be gone by 10,000 years, but let's add a zero onto that for speculation's sake.

So, if a big cat of the Panthera genus (I would be surprised if this wasn't the Indian leopard, which is already beginning to make a habitat out of our cities.), was to evolve to climb tall, ruinous buildings, as well as jumping from rooftop to rooftop, what physical adaptations would it need. Are there any other adaptations for post-apocalyptic city life that cats could evolve?

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    $\begingroup$ Evolution moves faster than previously thought, but not THAT fast. Hundreds of thousands of years is still way faster than the millions biologists used to think it took, but its still too long for any appreciable ruins we left behind to still exist. Even the pyramids would Just be a rock pile by that point. $\endgroup$
    – TCAT117
    Apr 7, 2018 at 17:32

2 Answers 2


Give your buildings some greenery.

tokyo with vinesenter image description here https://za.pinterest.com/pin/433119689149757965/ http://thehungergames.wikia.com/wiki/User_blog:District3/The_Feral_User_Games

These shots are imaginary, but vines can and do take over large buildings. Once you have vines you have food and places for prey animals like birds and rodents. Then the cats will move in to eat them.

Your arboreal ruins dweller could be based on the most arboreal of big cats, the clouded leopard.

clouded leopard http://indiasendangered.com/10-facts-about-the-clouded-leopard/

  1. It has short legs and broad paws that help in climbing trees.

  2. It has a tail almost equal to the body length. The long tail helps the leopard in balancing on long branches and jump from tree to tree.

  3. It has the longest canine teeth of any living feline.

  4. Clouded leopard teeth and jaws are remarkably similar to the primitive members of the extinct group of saber-toothed cats.

  5. It can climb while hanging upside-down under branches and descend tree trunks head-first.

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    $\begingroup$ What a cutie! ...and he'd probably rip my face off... $\endgroup$ Apr 8, 2018 at 0:21

So, the climbing part is easy. You're basically talking about terrain similar to this:


So for climbing, the cat would need large paws and a long tail relative to their body size/height/length.

It's the jumping that's a problem, because city buildings, even sky rises, aren't a uniform distance from each other. Small cats can leap impressively compared to their body size/etc., but the square/cube law probably kicks in for anything larger than 9 kilograms. This means that the heavier your Panthera is, the less far its relative jumping distance will be.


Life After People hypothesized that house cats in this situation would develop gliding abilities similar to flying squirrels:


But the same square/cube law limits the benefits of that for larger animals, too. So maybe your Panthera would get smaller, to take advantage of the opportunities a smaller size brings.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for talking about it getting smaller, large size and climbing do not mix well. plus there is very little in the way of large food sources in the higher parts of cities so small size has a double benefit. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Apr 7, 2018 at 23:51
  • $\begingroup$ @John: Actually, mountain lions climb quite well, and are often (often being relative, as they are quite reclusive) found in trees, and make dens among piles of large boulders. (And sometimes in casinos: reviewjournal.com/news/… That one was under age, though, so they didn't let him in :-() Black bears climb pretty well, too. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Apr 8, 2018 at 5:00
  • $\begingroup$ can climb and are good at it are different things, a gorilla can climb but they are not very good at it compared to other apes. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Apr 8, 2018 at 5:33
  • $\begingroup$ They could grow patagium like flying squirrels, and then they could glide between buildings. They might drop 50 levels between two buildings but if both of those are 100 stories high then it still counts as building-to-building jump. $\endgroup$ Apr 9, 2018 at 8:06

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