The rusty spotted cat is one of the smallest cat species in the world. It is roughly half the size of a normal domestic cat. It is an animal that continues to fascinate people because of its size and because it is very rare that you will spot this cat in the wild. The size of the rusty spotted cat is what makes it so unique but there are plenty of other interesting facts about this animal that you may not know.
It Is The Smallest Cat In Asia
It is not the smallest cat in the world but it does have the title of the smallest cat in Asia where is it predominantly found. Even the largest of these cats only reach 19 inches in length and will not weigh more than 3.5 pounds. When it is almost fully grown it would easily be able to fit in the palm of an adult hand. They are wild cats and are not suitable to kept as pets but they do look very cute. However, most people will only get the chance to see this cat in person in a zoo as they are not often seen in the wild.
It Is Classified As Near Threatened
There are a number of reasons why the rusty spotted cat is in danger of becoming a threatened species. The main factor is the destruction of their habitat. Deforestation in Sri Lanka is a real concern because the majority of the cats that can be found in this country live in the mountain forests. There is also no evidence of how many cats are actively breeding so it is impossible to say how many cats are being born each year. It is a protected species but there are challenges with conservation efforts because it is such a private animal.
It Is Found In Sri Lanka And India
There are two sub species of the rusty spotted cat, one is found in Sri Lanka and the other in India. In Sri Lanka they tend to live in the mountain forests of the country. In India they are more likely to live in the the scrublands and grasslands. It prefers areas with dense undergrowth that are also rocky and so it does not tend to live in evergreen forests. In both countries there are not that many confirmed sightings of the cats although occasionally people do manage to get a photograph. There is a zoo in Sri Lanka that houses eleven of these cats.
They Have A Litter Of 1-3 Kittens
Mating season is very brief with rusty spotted cats and this may be because females are more vulnerable to attack during this period. They can have a litter of up to three kittens but it is most common for them to only have one kitten during each pregnancy. The gestation period is just over two months. The kittens will stay with their mother until they are old enough to take care of themselves. As with most other species of animal they are considered to be adults when they reach sexual maturity.
It Is One Of The Rarest Species Of Cat
It is a very rare species of cat and this is one of the reasons why not much is known about this cat. It is only found in two countries in the world and it largely remains out of sight of humans. It is difficult to study their behaviour because they will do what they can do avoid detection by humans. Despite this it is still a very well known species of cat and one that most people have heard of. The amount of people that have seen this type of cat outside of captivity though is very low.
It Is Very Shy
Another reason why not much is known about the cat is that it keeps its distance from humans. It may live near them but it will not often show itself while there are a lot of people about. It hunts at night and this helps it to avoid people. It is very difficult to get a wild rusty spotted cat to trust you even if you see it on a regular basis. They are wild animals and are not suitable to be kept as pets and their first instinct is to attack strangers.
It Spends Most Of Its Time On The Ground
It is a very agile climber when needed but it mostly stays on the ground. The reason for this is that it hunts most of its prey on the ground. It will climb a tree when it is trying to run away from or hide from a predator. They have also been known to sleep in the branches of trees. They also sometimes hunt birds for prey and this may be done in a tree rather than on the ground. It will hunt frogs and other small amphibians when they are on dry land rather than entering the water to get them.
Its Fur Is Mostly Grey In Color
The largest proportion of the cats fur is grey. There are darker colored spots on its back which is how it gets its name. These spots can also be found on its face. There may also be some spots on the underside of its belly but the fur here is usually white. The markings on the cat are very distinctive and combined with its size makes it very easy to recognise.
It Is A Nocturnal Animal
The rusty spotted cat is a nocturnal animal and will hunt for food at night. During the day it will find somewhere to sleep that is undercover. This may be in a hollow log or underneath some dense vegetation. It may have some periods of activity during the day but these will be very brief. The fact that it is nocturnal means that it is easier for it to hunt prey. It can make its attack when its prey is asleep and this reduces the likelihood that the prey will be able to escape.
It Is A Carnivore
The main source of food for the rusty spotted cat is small rodents. It has also been known to eat frogs and small lizards. It stalks and pounces on its prey in the same way that a domestic cat would hunt a rat or mouse. They are very stealthy and this is a very useful trait to have when hunting. They are prepared to kill their prey themselves although they may occasionally eat something that was already dead before they found it.
It Is A Territorial Animal
The rusty spotted cat is known to be a territorial animal. It will mark its territory by urinating around the area that it considers to be their own. Other cats will tend to stay away from areas that they know have already been marked. Once a territory has been marked then the cat will tend to stick to this area. The cat will also do this even when they are in captivity, even though there may not be any other cats that are nearby.
Kittens Are Blind At Birth
When kittens are born they are blind for the first few days. They will weigh not much more than a few ounces. All of the food that they need will be provided by their mother. They will also have very dark spots on their fur. Their fur changing color is a sign that they are beginning to mature into adulthood. This will usually occur after about two months and this is also the time that they will start to become sexually mature.
56 Cats Are Kept In Zoos Worldwide
There are some rusty spotted cats that are kept in zoos all around the world. This has given a bit more of an insight into the animal but they behave very differently in captivity compared to how they do in the wild. Captive cats develop a relationship with their keepers and will allow the keepers to pet them and hold them in their arms. They start to behave more like domestic cats and this is something that does not happen in the wild. In captivity they have lived up to twelve years but it is not known if this is longer or shorter than in the wild.
The Wild Population Is Less Than 10000
It is estimated that there are less than 10000 rusty spotted cats living in the wild. It is hard to say for certain because some of them live in quite remote areas. However, there is no disagreement about the fact that there is a real risk that the population will face a huge decline. It is widely accepted that measures are needed to try and protect the current population of rusty spotted cats. However, because so little is known about the way that these cats live this is quite a difficult task.
They Live Close To Human Populations
They can live close to human population as this gives them access to food. They may feed on poultry that you would find on a farm for example. They may also breed with domestic cats that live alongside humans. In some areas they are considered to be pests because of the threat that they pose to animals that belong to humans. Even when they live in close proximity to humans they would not show themselves during the day when there were a lot of people about.
It Has The Nickname The Hummingbird
It has the nickname of the ‘hummingbird of the cat world’ because it is so agile. It can climb trees quickly and is able to change direction and evade predators very easily. These are also traits that the hummingbird has and they are also quite a small species of bird. They do not show their agility as much when they are on the ground but this is obvious as soon as they start to climb. This makes it all the more unusual that they choose to spend most of their time on the ground.
Females Find Secluded Areas To Give Birth
When female cats are ready to give birth they will find a secluded area to do this. This would be similar to the areas that they also use for sleeping. They have been witnessed in captivity making a den which allows them to have privacy while giving birth. They will care for their kittens in this area for the first few days before returning back to their normal territory with the kittens. The maternal bond that the mother has with the kittens will stay well until they are in adulthood.
Humans Are Classed As Natural Enemies
There are a number of reasons why humans are considered to be natural enemies of the rusty spotted cat. It is humans that are responsible for the deforestation that is destroying their habitat. They may also make efforts to clear them from grasslands so that this land can be cultivated. They can live on cultivated land but it is not known how sustainable this is for the cat population. There have also been occasions of the cats being hunted for their meat and skin, and because they may pose a threat to livestock. Changing human behaviour is thought to be the most effective way to protect the wild population of the rusty spotted cat.
They Can Interbreed With Domestic Cats
Another reason why the population of rusty spotted cats is under threat is that they do interbreed with domestic cats. This can result in offspring that have rusty spotted cat DNA but are classified as a domestic cat. Breeding programs have taken place in captivity but there is no such program in place in the wild. Therefore there is a danger that the rusty spotted cat will not breed at a sustainable level in the wild. Guidance can be given to domestic cat owners to try and prevent this breeding but there is no way to record how successful this will be.
They Are Sometimes Hunted For Their Meat
It is not unheard of for rusty spotted cats to be hunted for their meat. This is not a common practice but it is something else that contributes to them becoming more endangered. As they are such a small species there is not a lot of meat that can be gained from the cat. It is more likely that they will be killed for some other reason, to stop them attacking poultry for instance, and then their meat will be used. There have also been reports of their skins being offered for sale. Hunting and trade of the cats is banned in both India and Sri Lanka
There is no doubt that something needs to be done to ensure that the wild population of rusty spotted cat is protected. At the moment they are classified as near threatened but the situation at the moment means that it probably will not be long before they become a threatened species. Conservation of the species is a priority but everything that is known about the species comes from observing them in captivity and there are likely to be differences when compared to their behavior in the wild.