This is a really excellent picture of a rusty-spotted cat, which is the world’s smallest cat either wild or domestic. They look really cute but we must remind ourselves that they are a wild cat and therefore do not behave like a cute domestic cat. Below the picture are 13 selected facts about this tiny and beautiful wild cat species.
- Despite the fact that they are considered to be the smallest cat species weighing only a few pounds they are reputed to be extremely fierce;
- “For its size, it is singularly vicious. The little creature flew at it the moment it saw it, seized it by the nape, and was with difficulty taken off”. The first sentence is by de Alwis and the second is by T.C. Jerdon where he describes the reaction of a pet rusty-spotted cat when seeing a gazelle fawn enter a room;
- The rusty-spotted cat is closely related to the leopard cat which is the foundation wild cat species for the popular Bengal cat;
- It has been referred to as the “hummingbird of the cat family” which is apt because it is about half the size of a domestic cat and also extremely active and agile;
- The picture on this page shows their appearance very well. It shows the short brownish gray fur tinged with a rufous colour. There are two dark streaks on each cheek and four dark stripes that go from above the eyes backwards between the ears onto the shoulders. The belly, chest and throat are white with large dark spots and bars;
- The distribution of this cat is shown below in the map created by me based upon a reliable source;
- This diminutive cat is found in moist and dry deciduous forest, tropical thorn forest, scrub forest, shrub lands, rocky areas, hill slopes and grasslands. Apparently there are more often cited in bamboo and grassy areas including dry thorny vegetation;
- As mentioned, they are extremely active and agile. The movements are graceful and their motions are described as “striking”. They can climb with greater ease than a domestic cat and dart up walls and over roofs like a squirrel;
- They mainly feed on birds and small mammals and possibly insects, lizards and frogs. They have been reported killing chickens and in captivity they have an excellent appetite. It is reported that a rusty-spotted cat weighing 5 pounds ate 4 to 6 ounces of meat mixture and a dead mouse or a chick every day;
- They are partly arboreal meaning that they live in trees for part of the time. But they also operate on the ground;
- They are fierce fighters despite being a potential meal for many other predators such as foxes, larger cats and jackals;
- The mean litter size is 1.55 and kittens are blind at birth and weigh about 60 to 77 g. In the wild it was reported that one litter was born in a cave beneath a small rock among a field of tea bushes. Very young kittens do not have the characteristic rusty spots but the colour develops as they grow older.
- The threats to their survival are the usual ones from human activities such as agriculture, mining and quarrying, roads and railroads, hunting and trapping and loss of habitat due to extended cultivation of the land by people. Much of the range of this species of wild cat is within areas where there is a lot of human activity and where land use is expanding. This causes fragmentation of habitat threatening survival. There are concerns that that the rusty-spotted cat may mate with domestic cats which would create a hybrid and dilute
Map based on 2009 IUCN Red List information:
MORE ON THE RUSTY-SPOTTED CAT: