The Rusty-spotted Cat

Scientific Name: Prionailurus rubiginosus
IUCN Status: Vulnerable
Weight: 2-4 pounds

Wildcat Portrait


The Rusty-spotted Cat is one of the smallest cats, like a diminutive domestic cat at first glance, and similar in weight but with slightly different proportions to the Black-footed Cats. The short, smooth fur is rufous-brown or greyish-brown, with rows of rust-red to dark brown spots that sometimes form complete stripes on the nape, shoulders, and upper flanks. The underparts are white or pale cream. The tail is relatively thick and tubular, often faintly banded and with a darkish tip. Three subspecies are recognized, two from Sri Lanka representing lowland and upland populations, and one subspecies from India; none has yet been confirmed by molecular analysis.


Rusty-spotted Cats have a reputation for being especially fierce and taking very large prey. However, main diet consists of small rodents, small birds, hatchlings, reptiles, toads, and invertebrates. 

Habitat and Distribution:

The Rusty-spotted Cat is endemic to India and Sri Lanka. It has recently been confirmed from Pilibhit Territorial Forest Division and Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, northern India on the border with Nepal and is strongly suspected to occur in Bordia National Park, Nepal. The species was long regarded as a forest specialist but it is now known to have a broad habitat tolerance, occurring in all kinds of moist and dry forest, bamboo forest, wooded grasslands, arid shrublands, scrublands, and vegetated, rocky habitats. They appear to be mostly absent from evergreen forest but they inhabit humid montane forest to 2,100m in Sri Lanka.


Rusty-spotted Cats reproduction and demography is unknown in the wild, however, captivity reproduction has occurred year round. Gestation typically is between 66-79 days, Litter size is between 1-3 kittens.