Rusty-spotted cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) in Kutch-Gujarat, India
By Veer Vaibhav Mishra (Naturalist), India
Dear Michael, Greetings from Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India!
I am very glad to share information with you and am sending a short note and photograph of the rusty-spotted cat. Kindly find enclosed a report of my sighting of the rusty-spotted cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) in Kutch, Gujarat.
Rusty-spotted cat, (Prionailurus rubiginosus) – a new mammal for Kutch-Gujarat. 15 species of wild cats are found in India. Kutch district is having Caracal (Kutchi name Harnatro), Jungle Cat (Kutchi – Jung Mino), Desert Cat (Kutchi Ran Biladi), Leopard (Kutchi- Dipdo, Chitro).
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*New Cat: rusty-spotted cat, (Bitari Billi or Biladi). The names of ‘Rusty-spotted Cat’ is derived from specific spotted rusty skin markings on the cat’s body. The cat is also known as chat rougeatre, chat rubigineux (French); Rostkatze (German); gato rubiginosa, gato rojizo (Spanish); bitari billi (Gujarati: India); kaadu bekku (Kannada: India); pakkan (Malayalam: India); wal balalla, kolla diviya, handun diviya (Sinhalese:Sri Lanka); namali pelli (Tamil: India); and Kadu Poona, verewa puni (Tamil: Sri Lanka).
On 12th Feb 2013 at 8.07 pm, in Banni in Chhari-Dhand bird conservation area, I was checking the rocky area called Bird rock. I got eye shine under the small bush I spotted a small
cat was sitting on a rock. I took some images of the wild cat. I found this species very interesting as its size was very small. Very long tail and White belly.
The cat was identified as rusty-spotted by me and it was confirmed by Mr. Jugal Tiwari [ Sr. Scientist and Founder of a Wildlife Conservation Trust CEDO] in Kutch and Dr Shomita Mukherjee, a principal scientist of the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History. Dr. Mukherjee confirmed it as a Rusty cat. The NEWS was shared with the Deputy conservator of forests P A Vihol, Kutch West division. He expressed his joy and congratulated me and for important discovery for Kutch. This cat is one of the smallest wild cats of India. Talking about the Rusty spotted Cat in Gujarat In the past it has been spotted in Surpaneshwar in south Gujarat and by Bharat Pathak in Gir forest.
Kunal Patel is studying this species Rusty Spotted Cat, (Prionailurus rubiginosus) in Reserved Forest of Kevadi, Nirav Bhatt had photographed it in Gir forest, Kartik Upadhaya had also photographed this nocturnal cat in Jambhughoda wildlife Sanctuary. Rusty-spotted Cats are found in the Indian subcontinent, mainly in south India, some parts of Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir and Sri Lanka. It preys on small birds and mammals, and is known to eat insects, reptiles and frogs. Primarily nocturnal, they rest in dense cover during the day. Partly arboreal, they are accomplished climbers. Finding Rusty spotted Cat in Kutch is first time and it is a very important record and an addition to the mammalian fauna of Kutch district. North west Gujarat Thanks to Kutch forest department and Mr. Jugal Tiwari Sir for all the
encouragement and support.
Thanks in Advance sir, looking forward to here from you.
Best Regards Veer Vaibhav Mishra (Naturalist ), Centre for Desert and Ocean Kutch-Gujarat, India
See a page on the rusty-spotted cat on PoC
This map shows where Kutch Gujarat is:
You can see the wild cat in the expression of this cat. The breeders call this a “wild look”. They love that. It is real in this case.
Sorry to be cynical but yes they love the ‘wild look’ but sadly they want to own and possess and worse still, market it.
I also like the look of this cat and in my dreams I would make friends with a cat like this and spend time with it in it’s own territory but I would never feed or make a cat like this dependent on me and I would never take it away from it’s home to and try to make more of them to own. If a cat wants to live in my home I welcome it to but anything else seems wrong. No doubt somebody from the cat fancy has gotten their grubby hands on one or two of these little cats and already had a go at multiplying them in order to market their ‘wild look’ and ‘cute small size’.
I wish the people who stick their fingers where they shouldn’t would get their hands bitten off for good. Sorry to be such a downer. This is a nice article and it’s nice to see animals in their natural habitat and state and we should really celebrate the fact. It’s just that whenever I see precious living being I can’t help but immediately think of all the worst things they are up against. It almost automatically makes me sad to see something beautiful like these small cats.
I agree with you, Marc.
Yes, they want to possess the wild. Humans want to posses nature and destroy it in the process. I think people are frightened of nature. All humans live in fear whether they know it or not.
Yes, when I see a beautiful creature I immediately feel sad because I know a human somewhere is going to use it to make money.
Yes I feel sad too Michael!
What a beautiful cat that is Veer Vaibhav, thank you for sharing the photo.
Just look at the way he/she blends into the background, Nature is amazing if only people would leave her alone to do her work.
Hi Veer Vaibhav. Thanks for sharing your experience. The rusty-spotted cat is the world’s smallest cat.
Gujarat seems to be just inside the range of this cat species. However, Kutch is in the middle of Gujarat and that area seems to be just outside the recognised range of this species of cat so well done in spotting this rare little cat.
Its a very special looking cat isn’t it. Very round ears and huge eyes. It looks very sweet but I imagine one couldn’t get near such a small cat. I hope they are not yet another almost extinct cat but I fear you will reply and tell me people kill them with stones and sell their fur.
I am not sure why but it is the smallest of the wild cat species that interest me the most. Especially the desert ones. So little to survive on and unlike the big cats they can’t take down a big deer or something.
This cat looks very nice. It’s great to see a photo taken by somebody independently.
Thank you Veer.
H Marc, they genuinely are like miniature domestic cats (as small as, so called, teacup cats) but, as you say, they are wild and that needs to be respected. What interests me is that the author of this article was thrilled to see a rusty-spotted cat. Yet, they are meant to be throughout India. You would have thought you’d see them from time to time. This appears not to be the case and I suspect they are rarer than the “experts” believe. The truth is that the “experts” don’t know how many wild cats of the 36 species there are. No one is counting.
Luckily for these cats perhaps they are too small to be wanted for their fur. Also they probably don’t threaten peoples livestock and chickens etc so they may be safe from harm due to that. Ironically this one is in a bird conservation area – not suprising I suppose. So the remaining reasons for being killed off would more likely be humans cutting off their food supply and urban expansion/habitat destruction. I am guessing here but compared to others they would seem safer – less noticeable etc.
Yes, you are correct but..
There is no where for a rusty-spotted cat to live. Mr. Human has taken it.
They possibly are safer for the reasons you state. I just don’t think anything is safe 😉
I agree – it’s very sad. I’ll assume they are endangered like most wild animals are these days. These little cats probably co-exist very peacefully with humans in the sense that they pose no threat to humans and should be left alone. I hope they aren’t killed by humans but humans are capable of finding a reason to kill them. Probably the Chinese think they should eat their teeth ground up into powder so that they may have stronger teeth. Some stupid idea like that can mean the end of an entire species. Horrible.
LOL… the Chinese would find any reason to eat a cat 😉 Let’s think what do people want to be small as a part of their anatomy?
Ah, yes, Chinese women (men?) like small feet. Well, eat the eyeballs of a rusty-spotted cat and get small feet.
You’re welcome Michael,
You are right I found the RS cat in rocky area in the middle of semi arid area called Banni area, so new area is just outside the recognized range. I think it is first record in Thar Desert range. there may be some more individuals in that area…need to spend time there.
again thanks and best regards