Unlike many felines, fishing cats love the water. They also love to fish! Read on to learn more about this beautiful cat and what makes them so unique.
It's a well-known fact that a lot of cats don't like water. To drink, yes. But to play or bathe in is usually out of the question. While breeds such as the Bengal, Abyssinian and Maine Coone actually like water, here's one that has adapted its physical characteristics to fully submerge itself in order to catch its feed. Introducing the fishing cat!
Origins of the fishing cat
The fishing cat is a medium-sized wild feline, close to twice the size of an average domestic cat. They can be found in much of the humid zones of south-east Asia, as well as in Sri Lanka and northern India, including the foothills of the Himalayas.
Not a lot is known about these wild, nocturnal felines. Their numbers have been in decline in recent years due to the destruction of native habitats and non-sustainable fishing practices; they are officially listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
In countries such as Cambodia and Thailand, the breed is also hunted for their fur and meat, while others are poisoned and snared to keep the cats away from livestock.
Physical characteristics of the fishing cat
This is a cat that is built to hunt in water. Their paws are slightly webbed, allowing them to swim well and for long distances. Unlike most domestic cats, their claws protrude from their sheaths even when retracted. This allows them to manoeuvre through muddy areas whilst hunting in wet and often challenging conditions.
The breed is robust, being short in height with strong, stocky legs. They vary in weight between
5-16kg and reach a height of about 40cm (at the withers).
Perhaps the most fascinating feature of the fishing cat is its coat, which it has adapted to its wet lifestyle. The structured layers of the hair provide various protective coats against water, with the first layer (closest to the skin) so dense and short that water is unable to penetrate it. A second layer of longer hair provides the lustre and pattern of the cat.
Fishing cats sport grey, tawny undertones with long, brown spots over the body, as well as dark lines from the head to the neck. Their heads are large with an imposing muzzle.
Diet and lifestyle of the fishing cat
Mealtimes are predominantly made up of fish or other local marine life they hunt themselves (approximately 70% of their diet). This also includes molluscs and amphibians. Birds and other small mammals form an important part of their diet, as does grass.
Fishing cats are solitary, astute creatures who prefer to hunt at night. In order to hunt fish, they will tap the water gently to imitate the ripple of insects landing on the surface. Once a fish is attracted by the lure, the cat will launch its attack. This clever breed is also capable of diving down into the water in order to pursue its prey.
Have you ever heard about the fishing cat?