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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Fishing Cat

Family : Felidae
Species : Prionailurus viverrinus

Head-body length : up to 78 cm
Tail length : up to 29 cm
Weight : up to 11 kg

The Fishing Cat inhabits low-lying, typically coastal, habitats dominated by swamps, marshlands, slow-flowing rivers and mangrove. It can adapt to highly altered habitats, such as fishponds, prawn ponds and other aquaculture but, as a consequence, it can come into conflict with farmers and is often trapped, poisoned or otherwise killed.

Its diet is varied: fish is the mainstay, but crustaceans, insects, small reptiles, frogs, small mammals and birds are also consumed. It is largely nocturnal in habits, and is an excellent swimmer.

Its body is stocky and muscular, and its head is relatively large with an angular appearance. Its body fur is typically greyish-brown, with black spots and short stripes on the back and flanks. On top of the head there are distinctive black stripes. The belly is greyish. The ears are small, and typically lie flat (in contrast to the smaller Leopard Cat), and there is a white mark on top of each ear. The tail is relatively short.

This species is wide-ranging, but is in serious decline due to habitat loss and persecution. Within Southeast Asia there are records from Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and possibly Laos, and the Indonesian island of Java (and possibly Sumatra). There are, as yet, no records from northern Peninsular Malaysia.

Outside the region it is known from the Indian Subcontinent (including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh) and southern China.

Fig 1 : A typical example of a Fishing Cat, with dark spots and short stripes on the back and flanks, and strongly marked forehead and crown.

References : M5

IUCN Red List

Image attribution :
Fig 1 : "Fishing_cat_(4127540332)_(2).jpg" by Sander van der Wel is licensed under

Fig 1
ゥ Sander van der Wel