International Society For Endangered Cats

A Voice For The Wild Cats of the World

Small Wild Cats Still Unknown

Last week an Indian newspaper reported the rescue of a wild cat from a well. It was taken out alive by the neighbours with the help of the officials from the wildlife department.

The Rusty Spotted Cat is a very rare species in the cat’s family and the wild life authorities are interested in preserving them. The animal was well grown and was about 5 feet in length.  The rescued Tiger cat as it is a rare species was released to a nearby jungle.

The article even had photos of the rescued feline. While the rescue is indeed good news, there are a few things wrong with the story. Rusty-spotted cats never reach 5 ft – the most they ever reach is 19″. Tiger Cat is a generic name for many cat species, used the world over.

Here is a Rusty-spotted Cat Prionailurus rubiginosus. These little cats weigh 1-2 kg, and never reach a length of more than 19″.

And here is the cat photo from the newspaper article.

Regular readers of this blog will easily identify the bottom picture as that of a Fishing Cat Prionailurus viverrinus. The fact that officials of the wildlife department didn’t even know what this cat was speaks volumes.

Awareness of the small wild cats has improved enormously since ISEC Canada started in 1990. It took us two years to even gather enough information to write our first Feline Facts book, and it was a struggle to get many of the species onto two pages. The increase in field research studies on the smaller cats has generated an enormous amount of knowledge since then.

The highly visual aspect of the internet has also brought a wealth of small wild cat pictures. Unfortunately, many of the pictures available on the web are mis-identified. If you do a Google image search for a species, in fact most of the search results are likely to be mis-named.

I recently watched two wildlife shows on a high quality nature channel. One constantly referred to a leopard cat as a wildcat, and the other kept calling a margay an ocelot.  Shouting at the TV did nothing to correct the mistakes.

Clearly, ISEC Canada still has a lot of work to do. Let us know if you want to help the process, or have any ideas for us!

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