Do you know that rusty-spotted cats or Prionailurus rubiginosus are the smallest cat variety globally? It is mostly found in Asia in India, western Terai of Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Rusty-spotted cats display steadiness for modified habitat, and they exist on agricultural land, paddy fields, coconut plantation reforested, and human settled places.
Are Rusty-Spotted Cats Domesticated?
Rusty-spotted cats are domesticated without difficulty. The masters use adjectives like an expressive, frolic, and loving. It is estimated that there are 56 rusty-spotted cats in zoos globally.
Can You Keep A Rusty-Spotted Cat As A Pet?
As these cats are wild ones its suitability as pets is questionable. They appear cute. It is not easy to get a rusty cat to trust although you meet it on an everyday basis. The first instinct of the rusty-spotted cats is to attack a stranger. They do not thrive well in captivity. Just a few such cats are in zoos, most live in natural habitats. It takes a long time for the rusty-spotted cat to get adapted.
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What Do Rusty-Spotted Cats Eat?
Rusty-spotted cats are carnivores and live on rodents, frogs, birds, lizards, and tiny amphibians. Sometimes they eat already dead prey. The cats prefer to hunt on dry land rather than going into the water. They are agile climbers and climb trees to dodge predators. They are expert climbers and ferocious at hunting on trees and ground. Rusty-spotted cats conceal themselves on trees and jump directly onto the prey darting from above. Cats are stealthy and make use of this characteristic while hunting. They can kill prey triple their size. They sleep on tree branches. In places where they live near the human habitat, they steal the poultry and are called a pest. They hunt at night.
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Why Is The Rusty-Spotted Cat Endangered?
There has been an occurrence when rusty-spotted cats are hunted for their meat and fur or because it endangers human livestock. This behavior can be stopped by making laws. Hunting and trade are prohibited in countries like Nepal, India as well as Sri Lanka.
Cats living in the wilderness can be protected. The second reason for its number dwindling is the loss of habitat through deforestation. The third reason is interbreeding with domestic cats. The DNA changes and many of the characteristics are lost in the offspring. Breeding programs are there in captivity. It is believed that there are less than 10,000 rusty-spotted cats in the wild. As a responsible public, if you see a sale notice of a rusty-spotted cat you call the cops. It is so because the endangered creature trade is illegal.
Know More About Rusty Spotted Cat
Rusty-spotted cats are mammals affiliated with the cat family. Their dimensions, motion, and swiftness got them the name hummingbird of the cat family. Swiftly it climbs the tree and changes direction to escape attack by other creatures. They are fierce hunters.
The two sub-species are Prionailurus rubiginosus phillipsi and Prionailurus rubiginosus rubiginosus. The habitat of rusty-spotted cats is gradually being destroyed and that is why since 2016 it is mentioned as near threatened. So, they are endangered species. Conservation efforts fail because it is a shy and private creature. It is believed that there are less than 10,000 adult cats globally. The number dwindling is because of the destruction of their natural habitat.
The rusty-spotted cats are smaller than domestic cats. They are about 19 inches long and about 3.5 pounds in weight. The difference between males and females in size is not much.
Predominately grey fur coats exist and the fur is short and soft. That is how it gets its name as rusty-spotted cats. They have darker-hued spots on the back face, white underbelly. At times the spots look like stripes. Horizontal stripes can be seen on the legs and chest. The head is round, tiny and rounded short ears, large round eyes, and a thick tail with dark rings. The paw pads are black. The eyes are amber or grey-brown. The head is short and round. The legs are also short. Comparatively the tail is long with dark rusty color more so than the body color.
Rusty-spotted cats live in dry forests, wooded grassland, bamboo forest, rocky hill slopes as well as arid scrubland. Rusty-spotted cats are attacked by foxes, jackals, and other species of cats. They even eat winged termites. Rusty-spotted cats mark their territory by spraying urine. Other cats maintain a distance and respect the territory. They do this even in captivity.
Rusty-spotted cats are nocturnal creatures. During the day they take a nap at a safe place. Food hunting happens at night. The longevity in wild is not known but as a pet, they live up to 12 years or longer. Rusty-spotted cats are shy and evasive that is why studies on them have not been done.
Rusty-spotted cats mate once a year. Mating takes 1-5 minutes and it can be repeated many times throughout the day. Breeding is seasonal for pet cats. The gestation is for 67-70 days. The mother gets the den ready in an isolated place such as a shallow cave, hollow of a tree, or below rocky cliffs. They give birth to one or two kittens. The kittens weigh 60-77 grams. Kittens, when born, are blind for a few days. The maturity is reached in 68 weeks. The fur gets like other rusty-spotted cats. They are without rusty spotting, to begin with.
Rusty-spotted cats prefer secluded places for giving birth to kittens. Even in captivity, they make a den. In this place, they look after kittens for a few days and soon are back to their territory along with kittens. Mother cat rears up the kittens till they are adults. The kitten’s fur color begins to change as they mature. This process takes place after two months. At this time, they become sexually mature. These cats feed on small animals and disturb humans when they attack the domestic chickens. Being wild creatures, they instinctively attack strangers and at times bite.