The fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) is a medium-sized wild cat.
Fishing cats are found South and Southeast Asia.
They inhabit the peninsular region of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, Java, and Pakistan.
Fishing cats live primarily in wetland areas, both marshes and swamps. These cats can be found in heavily forested regions adjacent to rivers or near jungles. They can also be found in scrub areas, reed beds, and tidal creek areas.
Fishing cats have been reported in Himalayan forests at an elevation of 1,525 meters (5000 feet), they have also been found at elevations as high as 2,100 meters (7,000 feet).
The lifespan of the fishing cat is about 10 to 12 years in the wild and more than 15 years in captivity.
They are about twice the size of a domestic cat and have a stocky, muscular build with medium to short legs.
Its head-to-body length typically ranges from 57 to 78 cm (22 to 31 in), with a tail of 20 to 30 cm (7.9 to 11.8 in). It stands about 40 cm (16 inches) at the shoulder and weighs from 5 to 16 kg (11 to 35 lb).
The coat of the fishing cat is pale gray to deep brownish gray and marked with dark spots and streaks. Six to eight black lines run from the cat’s forehead to its neck, breaking up into shorter bars and spots on its shoulders. The underside fur is longer and often overlaid with spots.
Its paws are less completely webbed than those of the leopard cat, and the claws are incompletely sheathed so that they protrude slightly when retracted.
The fishing cat is thought to be primarily nocturnal.
Fishing cats are good swimmers and have been observed diving for fish, as well as scooping them out of the water with their paws.
They mainly eat fish but also dine on other prey found in the water, including crabs, crayfish, and frogs.
A fishing cat is generally a solitary animal and maintains a territory.
A solitary male will be attracted to a solitary female by her chorus of yowls and screeches.
Fishing cats most likely mate during January and February. The gestation period lasts 63–70 days after which females give birth to two or three kittens. They begin to play in water and to take solid food when about two months old, but are not fully weaned until six months old. They reach full adult size when about eight and a half months old, acquire their adult canine teeth by 11 months, and are sexually mature when approximately 15 months old.
If you think fishing cats look cute and cuddly, think again — these cats can be very aggressive.
The fishing cat is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
The major threat to fishing cats is the destruction of their habitat, primarily wetlands.
The fishing cat is also a victim of poaching. They are often hunted for food or medicine.
Fishing cat captive breeding programmes have been established by the European Association of Zoos and
Aquaria and the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums.