Are you a cat lover? If so, then you will like to meet this breed of cats . Considered the smallest wild cat on earth, its size is barely half that of a domestic cat.
The Rusty cat or spotted cat is native to India and Sri Lanka, although a record showed that they also appeared in Nepal.
Unlike domestic cats, Rusty cats live in the wild, and preferably tend to inhabit the wet and dry parts of forests or grasslands.
Despite their small body, these cats are aggressive animals . That is why you should not pet them if you see one in nature, their aggressiveness is their defense weapon.
Being so small, they need to be that way or they simply wouldn’t survive in their natural habitat.
Although they may seem cute and harmless, trying to turn them into a pet is a bad idea. Unlike domestic cats, they only have the idea of ”hunt or be hunted” in mind.
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Rusty cat physical characteristics
The body is slim and smaller than that of a domestic cat. The coat is short and smooth, with brownish-gray upperparts , and marked with rust-brown spots. Rusty brown spots and stripes can be seen on the back of the body, on the lateral sides, and on the face. The belly and the inner parts of the legs are white and covered with dark spots.
Its head is small, rounded and is marked with two white stripes on the inner edges of the eyes. There are several reddish brown streaks on each cheek, and the chin and cheeks are white.
The eyes are quite large with grayish to amber irises. The ears are short and rounded, covered with a rufous gray color and have light colored basal spots on the ears. Their legs are relatively short, and their feet have black pads.
The tail is moderately long, half the length of the body, has a more rusty color than the body, and is unmarked.
This cat, in its adulthood, is only 35 centimeters long and 15 centimeters tall . Compared to the house cat, which is an average of 46 centimeters long, this one looks like a baby kitten.
Adult females can weigh up to 1.4 kg and adult males reach up to 1.7 kg . During the first 100 days of development, males are smaller than females, but afterwards, males have a higher average body weight.
Rusty cat geographic distribution
Found only in India and Sri Lanka, they were thought to only inhabit moist forests. Recent records have indicated that cats are also found in dry forests, bamboo forests, wooded grasslands, arid scrub, and on rocky hill slopes.
Its presence has been confirmed in the Gir tropical dry forest in northern India. In Sri Lanka, they are found from sea level to 2,100 meters.
These cats have been found to live in abandoned houses in a densely populated area of southern India, far from the forest that has been considered their habitat. Rats and mice are likely to be found around houses, and nearby poultry will serve as food.
Showing some tolerance to modified habitats, females with kittens have been found in a tea plantation in Sri Lanka.
How, when and what do Rusty cats hunt
Very little is known about the lives of these cats. The Rusty cat is a nocturnal animal , it sleeps during the day inside hollow logs, in trees or among dense vegetation.
These cats are expert climbers and probably hunt in trees and on the ground. They move at high speed while making quick movements to catch their prey.
First of all, it is a carnivore and its diet is based on rodents, birds, frogs and lizards. They can sometimes hunt large prey.
This cat sometimes lives in plantations and fields near human settlements where it hunts poultry. Because of that, they are considered as pests and are killed by the local population.
Rusty cat mating and reproduction
The reproductive behavior of Rusty cats has been observed in captivity and is almost identical to that of the domestic cat.
Cats mate all year round. Mating lasts from one to five minutes, and can be repeated several times a day. Most cats stay in heat for three to five days , longer would make them very vulnerable to predators.
The gestation period lasts between 67 and 71 days . Each litter has 1 to 3 young.
In Sri Lanka, females were observed to give birth in hollow trees or under rock cliffs . Females in a Frankfurt zoo repeatedly chose their calving sites that were on the ground.
Newborns weigh between 60 and 77 grams. Kittens lack adult spots and their irises are light blue. Nothing is known of its development, but it probably closely resembles that of domestic kittens.
Longevity, in captivity, has been documented at 12 years.
Rusty cat conservation
Rusty cats have always been considered rare, but recent observations suggest that they are more common than previously thought.
Given their small size and ability to control rodents, they can survive if they are not pursued by man. However, these cats are often mistakenly hunted as panther cubs , hunted for fur or meat, and killed by domestic dogs.
The main threat to these little cats is the destruction of their natural habitat due to the needs of the growing populations of India and Sri Lanka. Hybridization with domestic animals has also been observed.
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