The cat is on the endangered list, says zoo veterinarian

A grey cat with reddish spots was seen at an enclosure at the zoo. It looked like a common cat on the street, making visitors wonder what had made the authorities put it in the enclosure.

It sat in a corner of the cage refusing to come out into the large enclosure even when visitors made catcalls to make it move. It showed its true colours, when someone picked up a stick and pushed it through the gaps in the enclosure. The visitors were taken aback at the ferociousness of the ‘small' cat as it snarled at them.

“It's no ordinary cat. It is the rusty-spotted cat that has been put on the endangered list. It was found near our zoo and we have managed to rescue it,” zoo veterinarian Srinivas told The Hindu.

Distinctive

The rusty-spotted cat is a small cat with small round ears and a short tail. Its soft, short coat is grey with a reddish tinge on top and a pale underside. There are reddish spots scattered randomly over its body and reddish stripes on its head. Its face has distinctive white and dark markings. The soles of its feet are black.

It gives birth to one or two kittens after a 65-70 day gestation. At birth, the kittens weigh between 60 and 77 gm. These cats are known to have lived for 12 years in captivity, but their lifespan in the wild is not known.

It is found in the forests, dried river-beds and drainage systems of India and Sri Lanka, where it hunts by night, and preys on rodents, small mammals and birds.

“Habitat destruction and hunting for their skin are the reasons for their dwindling numbers. Rusty-spotted cat is listed in CITES – I (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in India and CITES – II in Sri Lanka. It is also listed as ‘vulnerable' on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List,” says the Curator of the Indira Zoological Park G. Ramalingam.

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