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Prionailurus – Meet the Felidae Family

By Paige
Prionailurus Genus

Image from M Kuhn

The Prionailurus genus encompasses a number of small Asian cats. They are about the same size as the domestic cat, but differentiated by a thick, short tail, a short snout & large eyes.

While they look similar to their felis cousins their large eyes give them a distinct look.

Collectively this group of cats are typically forest dwellers and known for their swimming ability. Some of the members are semi-aquatic and live mainly on a fish diet.

Fishing Cat

Fishing Cat | Prionailurus viverrinus
Image from Duloup

Fishing Cats can be found in the peninsular region of India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, Java & Pakistan & live primarily in wetlands, however they can be found in a variety of habitats. This genus is the largest of the lesser cats & their diet is mainly fish & shellfish.

These animals are in danger due to destruction of the wetlands where they reside & a fish population reduced from to overfishing.

Flat-headed Cat

Flat-headed Cat | Prionailurus planiceps
Image from Zoo Thailand

The native territory of the Flat-headed Cat is the islands of Borneo & Sumatra & the Malay Peninsula. Very little is known about this animal due to such small numbers.

Declared extinct in 1985, the flat-headed cat was rediscovered in the 90’s in Malaysia & Sumatra. Some islands populations have healthier numbers than others.

Iriomote Cat

Iriomote Cat | Prionailurus iriomotensis
Image from tolweb

This genus is specific only to the Iriomote Island in Japan. The Iriomote cat is solitary, but they pair off to mate & although generally nocturnal, they have been seen hunting during the day.

The Iriomote cat is the rarest felid species on the planet due to habitat destruction & their numbers are in double digits.

Leopard Cat

Leopard Cat | Prionailurus bengalensis
Image from muzina_shanghai

The Leopard Cat can be found throughout Asia from the southern islands, north to Siberia, east to India & west to Korea & the Philippines. Nocturnal & solitary these cats live in a wide variety of habitats and have excellent swimming skills.

Although they are not endangered, there are a few vulnerable island populations & their habitat is threatened.

Rusty-spotted Cat

Rusty-spotted Cat | Prionailurus rubiginosus

The Rusty-Spotted Cat is found in the southern parts of India & Sri Lanka. The cats occupy different habitats in each place from dense tropical forests to grass & scrublands. Their behavior has not been thoroughly documented, however they are thought to be nocturnal.

These cats are not particularly rare, although hunting and trade is prohibited for the population in India.

The Rest of The Family

One by one we will introduce you to members of the felidae family. If you haven’t already, be sure to meet the felis, the lions & the tigers.

3 Responses to “Prionailurus – Meet the Felidae Family”

What's Yours?

  1. meli says:

    that is a gorgeous photo of a rusty spotted cat. i understand, however, that its population status is threatened and vulnerable due to habitat destruction, and the rusty spotted cat is in need of protection.

  2. mimi says:

    your IRIOMOTE cat photo is actually a photo of two fishing cats. I also love your rusty spotted cat photo. I hope you can correct the image of the Iriomote cat though.

  3. Tracy says:

    Love the rusty spotted cat pic

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