by Barbara George, Tellington Ttouch Behaviourist
The Rusty-spotted cat is the smallest cat species currently known even smaller than our Black-footed Cat. They are found in India and Sri Lanka. With a head and body length between 35 and 48cm, a tail of 15 to 29cm, and weighting between 800 and 1600gr (0.8 to 1.6kg) when full grown, this tiny cat is known as the hummingbird of the cat family due to its small size, agility and athleticism.
Their fur is short and soft, grey with a tinge of red, and rusty spots on their backs that form almost-solid stripes. Tummies are white with large spots and bars. Their legs are short, and they share black paw-pads with the Black-footed Cat. These markings help to camouflage them in their natural habitat, deciduous forests, although they have been forced to migrate to other areas due to deforestation and the progress of agriculture.
Size makes them vulnerable to other predators, so these cats are mainly nocturnal. They are good tree-climbers and tend to use height for safety and leopard-like attacks on smaller prey, while also hunting on the ground. They feed on small animals, birds, mice, frogs, lizards, insects, and sometimes domestic birds. Although little is really known of their natural life, they have a reputation as fearless hunters; in captivity they have been observed preying on squirrels and small buck. As all animals, they adapt to changing circumstances and food sources as necessary to stay alive.
A typical litter is two kittens of between 60 and 77gr, born in spring. The kittens reach maturity around 17 to 18 months of age. Although captive cat’s have lived up to 12years, the natural age in the wild is not known.