Rusty Spotted Cat is officially one of the smallest cat species in the world. Although, they can only be found in areas of India and Sri Lanka. Their size is what makes them unique in the first place.
Roughly speaking, they are about the half size of a normal domestic cat. Although their size if what fascinates people, that’s not the only thing that makes them so unique. They are not easy to spot in the wild and the chances are, unless you visit a zoo with this breed specifically, that you will never see them in person. Moreover over they are extremely rare, free and officially considered to be a near threatened breed.
Rusty Spotted Cat Quick Facts
Real name: Rusty Spotted Cat
Other names: Prionailurus rubiginosus, Hummingbird
Origin: India and Sri Lanka
Breed Type: Natural breed
Weight: 1,4 kg (3.08 pounds)
Height: 41 cm (16.14 inches)
Eye Color: Hazel, green, yellow
Lifespan: Unknown in wild
Lifespan: In captivity 12 years
Color: Mixed color
Rusty Spotted Cat: History
First of all, this is a very shy cat and therefore we don’t know a lot about this unique breed as we know about Singapura cat, Tortoiseshell cats or any other domesticated cat. After all, this is one of the last wild smaller cats that we are talking about here.
What makes even more challenging learning about this breed is the fact that this cat is utterly nocturnal being, meaning that she hunts at night and she is so shy that avoid’s any contact with humans. Altogether, this makes difficult tracking and studying of this cat. There were even some attempts to domesticate this cat.
By records of T.C. Jerdon, the 19th-century naturalist, it’s not easy having a Rusty Spotted Cat as a pet. According to his records, Rusty Spotted Cat spends most of its time hunting squirrels in the back of the house.
Moreover, he recorded that: ‘When the rusty-spotted cat was introduced to a young gazelle, the cat immediately grabbed the gazelle by the nape! It had to be pulled off before it would let go.’ This confirmed suspicions that this cat is full carnivore!
What else we know about this interesting breed is that it can be found in most of India, and in the bigger parts of Sri Lanka. There are only found in those areas. Furthermore, it seems that it’s their nature to inhabit areas of exclusively moist forests. In addition, they can be seen in the bamboo forest, wooded grassland, and even dry forest.
Their presence has been officially confirmed in India and Sri Lanka:
- India – in the tropical dry Gir Forest of northern India.
- Sir Lanka – they are found from sea level to 2,100 meters.
Interestingly, although they avoid humans, they are seen living in abandoned houses in a highly populated area of southern India, away from the forest. The logic behind is that they are moving where the food is, and as a true carnivore they are searching for mice and rats around the houses, while at the same nearby poultry serve as food.
As far as for Sri Lanka goes, families with kittens have been found in tea plantations.
Good to know: Rusty Spotted Cat is protected both to India and Sri Lanka.
Rusty Spotted Cat: Physical Appearance
This breed is officially pointed out as one of the worlds smallest cats. Moreover, it’s officially one of the smallest wild cats. She is 35 to 48cm long, while her weight ever goes, as known, over 2 kg. In addition, her tail can be between 15 to 30 cm long.
This is a cat that really made her look about her surroundings. Her hair coat is grey over most of the body, with rusty spots over her back and flanks. Her underbelly is white with large dark spots. Also, her tail is dark colored and thick. Furthermore, there are six dark streaks on each side of the head, extending over the cheeks and forehead.
In addition, they have round and large eyes, while their eye-color ranges from amber to grey-brown. Also, their ears and short interestingly rounded and above anything else, small. Interestingly, when they are born kittens are completely blind for the first few days.
They will only take the food provided from their mother, and they will have very dark spots on their fur. Their fur will change as they grow older, and it’s a sign that they are beginning to mature into adulthood. Moreover, this will usually occur after about two months. This is also the time when they become sexually mature.
Rusty Spotted Cat: Personality
As mentioned before, Rusty Spotted Cat is an extremely shy cat known for keeping its distance from humans. Interestingly, they may live near humans, but they will avoid them in most cases, or simply be active only during the night – when humans are asleep and away.
Moreover, the night is the time when they are most active due to hunting hours. Therefore, it’s extremely difficult to spot it on a regular basis. Even more, if they show themselves during the day and don’t run away it can be seen as a miracle. After all, they are wild animals and are not suitable to be kept as pets. Also, their first instincts when they see a stranger is to attack.
Moreover, they are known as being extremely active and fast. Furthermore, they are very agile climbers when needs, although they prefer to stay on the ground.
The logic behind ground-preferences? Most of its prey is on the ground. In addition, it will climb a tree if necessary and even swim. Yes, this is a wild cat completely adapted to its surrounding. They will hunt birds also, and that’s the main, next to sleeping, why they are seen in trees. Kind of similar to domestic cats and their mice hunt.
Fun fact: Rusty Spotted Cat can be seen sleeping in the branches of trees.
Rusty Spotted Cat: Diet
Rusty Spotted Cat is, like any other wild animal, a superb hunter. After all, they are highly depended on their own skill and have to hunt in order to survive. Despite their size, they can easily kill their own prey even if its four-time their size, and even larger.
After all, there are some advances when you are one of the smallest animals in the surrounding and you are set for hunt. However, they mostly feed on smaller rodents, including small birds, reptiles, frogs, and amphibians. Their capability to hunt over ground makes them extremely adaptive to almost anything, including hunting from above.
Furthermore, it is in their natural habitat they will hide in trees and they jump directly onto their prey on the ground.
Rusty Spotted Cat: Reproduction
Their mating season is very short, and the biggest reason for this lies in the fact that females are more vulnerable to attack during this period. When it comes to their reproductive behavior it seems identical to that of the domestic cat. This conclusion was conducted based on the observed reproductive behavior of Rusty’s in captivity.
The act of matting can last from one to five minutes. Moreover, it can be repeated numerous times a day. In general, they have small litters, up to three kittens. However, the most common number of kittens is one per pregnancy. Pregnancy can last up to two months, while the heat period can last for three days, and longer.
When it comes to captivity breeding its seasonal. On the other hand, in wild litters are mostly found in February. This small cat gives birth to even smaller kittens. When born, kittens are lighter than an egg. Kittens are usually born with blue eyes. So far, no research showed that this breed has common eye infection issues.
Also, kittens will stay with their mothers until they are old enough to take care of themselves. Just like with any other animal they are considered to be adults when they reach sexual maturity.
Rusty Spotted Cat: Near Threatened Breed
This may come as a shock but this is indeed one threatened breed. It’s estimated that less than 10,000 Rusty Spotted Cat’s are still in the wilderness, although it’s hard to say for certain. They are not fans of humans and they mostly live in remote areas. But the fact is that their number is significantly less with each year. At the moment they are vulnerable breed or near threatened.
They are native to the forests of India and Sri Lanka, and with excessive deforestation, and expanding agriculture their prime habitat is smaller each day. One more threat is a trend of owning a wild animal as a pet. Because of all these reasons combined and even more certain measures were taken to protect the current population of rusty-spotted cats.
Rusty Spotted Cat: Conservation
As a native breed to India and Sri Lanka both countries protected the species by creating special conservation areas. The biggest reason for their decreased number lies in the fact that their habitats are being destroyed. That being said, the three most common reasons for their fading population are:
- Deforestation – with natural habits being destroyed every day they have to move further or closer to human populated human areas.
- Living in human area – in populated area they at risk of eating somethign infected, living in infected areas, or being killed by domestic dogs.
- Hunt – because of their spots and size, they were often mistaken as cubs of the Leopard Panthera pardus for meat or skin.
Hopefully, conservation efforts should lead to more rusty-spotted-cat encounter in the future.
They Can Be Seen In Zoos
Rusty Spotted Cats are kept in zoos all around the world nowadays. This has given us a small insight into their behavior and preferences. At the moment there is in total 56 cats being kept in captivity.
Interestingly, these cats developed a relationship with their keepers. Even more, they will allow them to even pet them and hold them in their arms. With time, they started behaving more like a domestic cat. This kind of affection could never be seen in the wild.
Rusty Spotted Cat: Key Takeaways
Rusty Spotted Cat is one of the most interesting breeds in the world. After all, they are one of the smallest ones and its something that one cant easily forget. In addition, this is a breed that can’t or shouldn’t be domesticated, as their genes are too intertwined with the wilderness. That’s why they are great hunters and can hunt in any natural surrounding, including ground, air, and even water.
Rusty Spotted Cat is probably the only cat or one of a few, that can actually tolerate being in the water. Also, they are not doing found of humans, and they see us as natural enemies. Although much is not known about this breed, its know for sure that they are native to India and Sri Lanka and that during the history they were hunted for their meat and coat. Moreover, they were occasionally mixed with leopard’s cubs.
Unfortunately, due to their lifestyle and living preferences in remote areas, this breed is officially pronounced to be endangered. Therefore, the relevant bodies of India and Sri Lanka made concrete steps in terms of protecting the breed and creating proper conversation surrounding. Hopefully, conservation efforts should bring peace and longevity to this wild breed.