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Rusty Spotted Cat - One of the worlds smallest wild cats


The rusty spotted cat, is an extremely rare cat of southern India and Sri Lanka. Rusty Spotted Cat faceThey are smaller in size than that of our domestic felines. They rival only the Black Footed Cat and the Kodkod as the world's smallest living Wild Cat species. Little is known of the lifestyle of this small cat, although its has been observed to be mainly nocturnal, arboreal to a degree and in keeping with the cats size hunt mainly small rodents, insects and amphibians. These mighty little Cats are both arboreal and terrestrial inhabiting forest biomes in southern India and have been seen within the dry tropical bounds of the Gir Forest in northern India. Territory ranges from moist, deciduous forest to scrub forest in drier areas on to arid scrub lands and even open grasslands. In Sri Lanka this mighty little hunter has been seen at elevation over 8000 feet in low scrub and arid coastal belts.


As the name suggest, the rusty spotted cat is named after its specific markings. This felid is grayish-brown with a permeated reddish color to the fur with the undersides, the chest bib and the chin being a tawny white. The spots are superimposed over the background coloration and are small and a rust red color, which form into solid stripes along the back and on the top of the head.


Accomplished climbers they take prey of small birds and mammals as well as reptiles, frogs, tortoises, and lizards, and sometimes domestic poultry when the chance arises. It is not uncommon to find them taking shelter and even residence in abandoned houses close to populated regions of southern India. Mice and other small rodents probably draw them to this type man-made habitat which is, of course, in no way optimal.


The rusty spotted cat is nocturnal and spends most of its time in the trees. They are very territorial, but not much else is known about their behavior in the wild. Breeding takes place in early spring, with the kittens usually born around April. Gestation is 67 to 71 days with 1 to 3 kittens in a litter, maturing at around 6 months of age.


The rusty-spotted cat does not seem to be rare in Gujarat, evRusty Spotted cat on a rocken though they are hunted and eaten. Almost every village in a survey reported to have seen them. A limited distribution in scattered areas implies that the populations could be very vulnerable. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) does not consider the rusty-spotted cat to be threatened, but the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has restricted international commerce


The main threat to the rusty-spotted cat is that of habitat loss although trade in furs is present in parts of its range. The Indian subspecies are listed in CITES Appendix 1 and the Sri Lankan sub-species in CITES Appendix 2.