When it comes to wild cats, much of the spotlight gets put on nature’s largest and most fearsome, such as the lion or the tiger. But at the polar opposite end of the feline spectrum is the rusty spotted cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus), which is one of the smallest species of cat in the world.
From mere size alone, the rusty spotted cat looks and sounds like a kitten. A fully-grown male is small enough to fit inside the palm of your hand and weighs just 2-3.5 pounds on average; but don’t let its miniature size fool you – the rusty spotted cat is quite the capable little critter.
With eyes up to six times more sensitive to movement than a human’s, the rusty spotted cat is quick to discern potential danger or prey. The feline also sports highly sensitive ears that can aid the eyes in surveying an area.
While you might expect such a tiny cat to be meek, it tends to be quite the opposite. It creeps around to avoid predators, but exhibits quite the daring behavior otherwise, crossing moving bodies of water and sometimes testing its own curiosity to the brink of danger.
The rusty spotted cat is endemic to parts of Asia and recognized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as ‘Near Threatened’ on the organization’s Red List of Endangered Species. It’s believed that habitat loss and fragmentation in the region are some of the primary drivers behind the species’ decline.