Fishing Cats Fun Facts

Adult Fishing Cat at Water The fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) lives throughout South and Southeast Asia, nearby swamps, marshes, lakes, creeks, and mangrove forests. They usually live in lowland habitats without fast-moving water. That being said, some fishing cats have been observed in Himalayan forests and in other mountainous regions at elevations of up to 7,000 feet, so these cats are adaptable. Java is the Southern-most point of the fishing cat’s range.

As their name suggests, fishing cats are at home in the water and rely on it to live. They are nocturnal and fish and hunt in solitude. Fishing cats are capable of even swimming long distances underwater to fish. They supplement their diet with rodents, birds, reptiles, carrion, and insects, although fish comprise up to three quarters of their diet. Fishing cats have been observed washing carrion by taking the meat to the water, dropping it in, and only then eating it once pulling it back out again.

 

Fishing Cat KittenIn order to help the fishing cats fish and swim, their paws are webbed. They have retractable claws, too. Fishing cats have short tails that measure about a third of their body length, and short whiskers. They are one of the largest of the smaller wild cats. Males are larger, sometimes measuring over two feet long, not counting their tail. Fishing cats weigh between 14 and 26 pounds when fully grown.

Fishing cat kittens are usually born in March or April. Litters are made of two or three kittens who are totally dependent on their mothers for the first many months of their lives (in captivity, fathers help with raising the kittens, but it is unknown whether this happens in the wild). The kittens begin to move around on their own at one month of age, start eating some solid food at two months old, and are totally weaned from milk at six months old. The kittens are introduced to the water when they are about two months old and take to it easily.

 

Adult Fishing Cat FaceFishing cats are currently listed as endangered. Destruction of their habitat is the biggest threat at the moment. Pollution, deforestation, and development are all dangers to fishing cats, as well as, to some degree, poaching. Throughout most of their range, fishing cats are a protected species. In some areas, NGOs are working with local villages to protect the fishing cats’ habitat. Furthermore, breeding programs exist in zoos around the world.

 

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