Rusty Spotted Cat Facts

Rusty Spotted Cat Facts

Rusty Spotted Cat

Common Name: Rusty Spotted Cat
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrata)
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Felinae (Prionailurus)
Species: rubiginosus

Misc: One of the smallest cats in the world.


P.r. rubiginosa – India
P.r. phillipsi – Sri Lanka

Size and Appearance: Another of the small cats about which little is known, this cat has a grayish coat with reddish brown spots, and is referred to as a smaller “washed-out” version of the Leopard Cat. The belly and inside of the limbs are white with large, dark spots. They have 2 dark streaks on their face, and four dark streaks running from the top of their head to their nape. They range in weight from 3-4 pounds and between 20-29 inches in length.

Habitat: In Sri Lanka it is found in rain forest and high montane forest. In India, it is found in dry grassland and scrub.

Sri Lankan Rusty-spotted Cat | Sandaru Muthuwadige Photography
Rusty Spotted Cat

Distribution: India and Sri Lanka only.

Reproduction and Offspring: After a gestation of approximately 67 days, females produce a litter of 1-3 kittens, although typically only 1. Nothing else is known of the reproduction or development of this cat.

Longevity unknown.

Social System and Communication: Unknown.

Hunting and Diet: The primary diet of this cat consists of rodents, frogs, and domestic poultry. It is also believed to include small mammals and birds.

Principal Threats: The biggest threat has been deforestation and the cultivation of the landscape. Individuals that are caught hunting domestic poultry are subject to persecution.

Status: CITES: Appendix I. IUCN: Insufficiently known.

Photo by Leonard Lee Rue III

Felid TAG 2000 recommendation: Rusty-spotted cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus). A small, secretive species seldom seen in captivity, all individuals in both North American and European populations are derived from a single pair imported from Sri Lanka. Due to political strife, additional specimens from that country have not been available, and the Colombo Zoo had to obtain specimens from Europe for exhibit. Populations in India are considered a distinct subspecies and are not available from any source. Although managed by an international studbook, this species is not endangered. This species is not recommended for support in North America.

How rare is this cat ? The International Species Information Service lists 36 worldwide, with 7 being in the U.S.  There are 0 living on Easy Street.

Information reprinted With Permission from the IUCN Wild Cats Book

See Conservation Work Funded By Big Cat Rescue here:

All conservation insitu work:

2012 Conservation Work to Save Rusty Spotted Cats

The big cats of India received some unexpected, pint-sized visitors. According to the Deccan Chronicle, two rusty-spotted cats were seen pawing around the Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan.

Activists and wildlife officials are excited that this adorable duo was seen out and about, because rusty-spotted cats are extremely rare.

The smallest species of cat, the rusty-spotted cat measures around 13 to 18 inches long and weighs between two and three-and-a-half pounds.

Aside from being rare, this species is also very shy, which makes it even more surprising that two volunteers spotted these tiny animals wandering around a big-cat reserve.

The species is native to Sri Lanka and India, and is protected by both countries. Hopefully, conservation efforts will lead to more rusty-spotted-cat sightings in the future.

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