Southeast Asia’s flat-headed cat is even rarer than the fishing cat. It’s also considered to be a better fisher.
This adorable feline has an impressive scientific alter ego: “Otocolobus manul”. Despite that metal-sounding name, Pallas cats aren’t superheroes – they are little cats that have carved out their own niche in an enormous, unfriendly world.
Most people wouldn’t consider “saving wetlands” as the method of choice for protecting an endangered cat, but it’s just what Southeast Asia’s fishing cat needs. The only member of the cat family to live on fish is becoming increasingly rare outside Bangladesh and parts of eastern India.
Not all wild cats are critically endangered. Asia’s most common little feline – the leopard cat – appears to be doing all right for itself. Scientists call it “Prionailurus bengalensis,” the Bengal cat. “Bengal” is also the name of a hybrid leopard cat/domestic show cat. A few people, especially in China, have skipped the domestic-cat middleman and tamed leopard cats as pets. But these remain partly wild and their cubs are totally wild. For some unknown reason, domestication doesn’t seem to “take” with leopard cats the way it did with house cats thousands of years ago.
The rusty-spotted cat of India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal seems too small to support its impressive scientific name of “Prionailurus bengalensis.” Called the ‘hummingbird’ cat because of its size and activity, Rusty packs up to four pounds of muscle and catitude into a body the size of a six-month-old domestic cat.