Fishing Cat - A true water cat
The fishing cat is native to the
riverbanks from India through Southeast Asia and these
cats love to fish. They have partially webbed paws, and a double
layer of fur so when they go in the water they don't get wet down to
the skin. They don't have full claw sheaths so their claws are
partially visible even when retracted (similar to a
cheetah). A medium sized wild cat of
the wetlands, they are another unique example of the great abilities
and diversities of the cat family. When swimming, they may use its short, flattened tail like a rudder, helping
control its direction in the water.
They have a long, stocky
body, relatively short legs, round ears, broad head, and short tail.
Coat is an olive gray and is marked by dark spots that may form
stripes over spine. Ears are short and round while the nose is of a
flattened appearance. Feet are somewhat webbed that enables the
Fishing Cat to maintain a degree of traction on slippery muds,
though it is now believed the webbing is not of any extraordinary
extent. Fishing cats range from about 25 pounds for males to about
15 pounds for females. Head and body length is 25 to 34 inches.
They are a hunter mostly
of aquatic animals, specializing in fish, frogs, mollusks and
snakes. At the same time it does not spare terrestrial prey
including rodents, deer, goats, dogs and even young wild boars. The
opportunistic cat has also been known to go after birds and kills of
other predators. The cat attracts fish by lightly tapping the
water's surface with its paw, mimicking insect movements. They stick
their wiskers in the water to feel the vibrations of the fish coming
close, then it dives into the water to catch the fish when they get
close. It can also use its partially webbed paws to scoop fish,
frogs, and other prey out of the water or swim underwater to prey on
ducks and other aquatic birds. It is powerful enough to take large
prey, such as calves and dogs.
Little is known about
the details of their reproductive or social behavior in the wild.
Pregnancy lasts around two months after which a litter of one to
five kittens is born. They are weaned, after half an year at the
most and gain independence after one year of age.
Though they are not yet
endangered in the wild, they are are listed as vulnerable
on the World Conservation Union's Red List of Threatened Species.
They are threatened by habitat loss and hunting for food and fur.
People have drained many wetland areas to make room for farmland and
roads. Pollution from industries has poisoned rivers and streams
where fishing cats once fed. However, fishing cats appear to do well
in suburban habitats, so they may prove adaptable to human
activities that some other species.