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Rusty-spotted Cat

Prionailurus rubiginosus

The hummingbird of cats, this extremely agile and active species is about half the size of a domestic cat.

This rare cat has short, brownish gray fur tinged with a rufous color. The face is marked with two dark streaks on each cheek and four dark stripes extending from above the eyes backward between the ears and to the shoulders. The back and flanks are marked with elongated blotches of rust-brown and spots that pattern the fur. The cat’s belly, chest, and throat are white and marked with large dark spots and bars. The ears are small and rounded.

The rusty-spotted cat is distributed in southern India and Sri Lanka. Within the cat’s range, it is found in moist and dry deciduous forests, tropical thorn forests, scrub forests, grasslands, arid shrublands, rocky areas, and hill slopes. Very active and agile, this cat is small, but extremely fierce. It is primarily nocturnal, resting in dense cover during the daytime. The cat feeds on birds, small mammals, and possibly on insects, lizards, and frogs. It most likely hunts on the ground, using its superb climbing abilities to escape predation.

The rusty-spotted cat is not an adaptable species. Relatively little information on its wild status is known. The cat is threatened by habitat loss and by humans who kill it after mistaking it for a baby leopard.

The rusty-spotted cat is currently classified as Vulnerable (VU) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and protected under appendices I and II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).


Vital Stats:
Lifespan- At least 16 years (Captivity); Wild lifespan UNKNOWN

Weight- 0.8 to 1.6 kg

Body Measurements- Head-Body Lengths: 35-48 cm; Tail Lengths: 15-25 cm

Status (IUCN)- Vulnerable (VU)