The Fishing Cat

Scientific Name: Prionailurus viverrinus
IUCN Status: Endangered
Weight: 11-35 pounds




The Fishing Cat is by far the largest of the Prionailurus cats, with a muscular, robust body, stocky legs and a relatively short, well muscled tail. The head is blocky and powerfully built, with small, rounded ears that are black-backed with a white central spot. Fishing Cats feet are partially webbed and the large claws protrude partially from the claw sheaths. The fur is typically olive-grey, sometimes with slate-grey or russet tinge, fading to pale underparts. The body is covered in dark brown to black spots that typically coalesce into long blotches or stripes on the nape, shoulders, and back. Two subspecies are recognized, one from Java and one from the rest of their range which encompasses Asia and Sri Lanka.


The Fishing Cat has a diet dominated by aquatic prey, particularly fish as well as crustaceans, molluscs, amphibians, water associated reptiles, waterfowl, semi aquatic rodents. Other prey includes hares, birds, and insects. 

Habitat and Distribution:

The Fishing Cat has a relatively wide but extremely fragmented distribution across south and south-east Asia. The main strongholds are the terai lowlands across southern Nepal and northern India, northeastern and eastern India, north-eastern Bangladesh and the island of Sri Lanka where is appears to be widely distributed. Fishing Cats are strongly associated with wetland habitats including marshes, reedbeds, dense terai grasslands, riverine woodlands, coastal wetlands, and mangroves. The occur in evergreen and dry forest closely associated with well-watered areas such as marshland, oxbow lakes, and slow moving rivers.


This is poorly known from the wild. In captivity gestation lasts 63-70 days and litter size is usually 1-3 kittens. There is little evidence of seasonal breeding, although this is often assumed due to weak seasonality or merely limits in sampling.

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