Fishing Cat. By Gemma Simpson |
Fishing Cat. By Gemma Simpson |

The fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) is a feline that inhabits various areas in South Asia and is currently endangered.

It is the largest of the different existing species of wild cats of the genus Prionailurus, being double the size of a domestic cat.

The color of its fur is grey with longitudinal black stripes, but the lower part of their body is white. Their length is typically between 57 and 78 cm, depending on the subspecies (there are two) and the area where they live. They have small rounded ears and often a strong, muscular tail of 25 – 30 cm, with rings and a black tip. They weigh 6 -12 kg and its legs are somehow shorter compared to other felines.

Unlike most wild cats, these animals are excellent swimmers, divers and fishers.

They mainly eat fish instead of small mammals, even though they are also part of their diet along with several types of insects and, occasionally, mollusks, amphibians reptiles or larger mammals.

They are nocturnal and solitary animals that interact occasionally and during the mating season. Every male has a territory (generally meadows and wetlands) that overlaps with that of several females. They mark it rubbing their cheeks against trees and plants, and spraying their urine. Females are in heat between March and April, giving birth 1 – 4 kittens that will be independent 10 months later.

Fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus). By Vladimir Wrangel |
Fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus). By Vladimir Wrangel |

Common name – Fishing cat

Scientific name – Prionailurus viverrinus

Taxonomy – Class: Mammalia, Order: Carnivora, Suborder: Feliformia, Family: Felidae, Subfamily: Felinae, Genus: Prionailurus

Size – 57 – 78 cm (22 – 31 in) + 25 – 30 cm tail

Weight – 5 – 16 kg (11 – 35 lb)

Lifespan – 12,6 years

Gestation period – 63 – 70 days

Habitat – They live in wetlands and meadows near rivers, lakes, swamps and other sources of water.

Range – India and Nepal (Terai region), east of India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Population – < 10,000

Diet – Mainly fish, but also insects and small rodents. They can occasionally hunt mollusks, amphibians, reptiles or mammals of a bigger size.

Conservation – These animals are highly endangered by the destruction and pollution of their habitats. The agricultural drainage, water pollution, tree felling and fishing are among the main factors that pose a threat to the species.

Conservation Status – Vulnerable

References – IUCN Red List,, Wikipedia, San Diego Zoo


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