This cat more closely resembles a mustelid (weasel family) or an otter than cat, it is said. This is because of its long, flattened head, short legs, low-set small, rounded ears and short tail. Despite looking a bit weasel-like the flat-headed cat is related to the leopard cat. Incidentally, another cat that is weasel-like is the jaguarundi.
The feet are long and narrow. The cat’s claws are “nonrectractile” – this means partially retracted as 2/3rds of the claw is left protruding when not extended. This is the same as the cheetah and fishing cat.
The excellent photograph by Jim Sanderson Ph.D. shows the fur very clearly. The fur on the body is heavily ticked using cat fancy language (presence of agouti gene – the jaguarundi has a ticked coat too). It is long, soft and thick. The color is described as “roan brown” after the a roan horse. It is brown with a sprinkle of salt meaning that the top of the individual hair strands are white or gray. The undersides of the cat are mottled white.
In contrast to the body, the head and face is more high contrast and colorful. The fur on the head extending down the spine is rusty colored. This cat has “spectacles”, clean white fur around the eyes. The white extends to the chin and around the mouth. There are two light brown patches of fur to the left and right of the nose. There are symmetrical markings on the forehead and crown but no classic tabby “M” mark. The ear flaps have a white eye spot typical of a lot of wildcats.
As mentioned, the tail is short and measures one quarter the length of the head and body combined.
The flat-headed cat has forward set eyes that are close together, which provide better binocular vision than some other wildcats.The teeth are specialized and unusual. They have evolved to seize and grip slippery prey, namely fish, the main diet of this cat. They are all sharp and pointed. The photograph of this cat in water is appropriate for that reason. This wildcat has a strong bite.The flat-headed cat’s scientific name is Prionailurus planiceps.Flat-headed cat description – reference – Wild Cats Of The World by Mel and Fiona Sunquist page 234, ISBN-13: 978-0-226-77999-7
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