Tag: felid

Amazing Cats: The Rusty-Spotted Cat

Stalking the jungles, wetlands and forests of India and Sri Lanka are exceptionally skilled hunters, cats who are as swift as they are deadly.

They’re nocturnal, with large eyes that allow them to see motion and detail in almost complete darkness, and spectacularly sure-footed. Their agility, grace and natural climbing ability not only help them get to prey, but also aid them in avoiding predators.

But unless you’re a lizard, bird or small mammal, you have little to fear from the rusty-spotted cat — unless you get in its face.

The striped-and-spotted felines are as fierce as they are tiny, and they are truly diminutive — at two to three-and-a-half pounds fully grown, rusty-spotted cats are rivaled only by the black-footed cat of southern Africa as the world’s smallest felines.

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A rusty-spotted cat mother stands protectively in front of her kittens in Cornwall

Although the little guys are elusive, cat enthusiasts were treated to rare close-up images of rusty-spotted kittens when a litter was born at Porfell Wildlife Park and Sanctuary in Cornwall in 2020. It was an extremely rare occurrence, as there are only a few dozen rusty-spotted cats in captivity worldwide. Like most other wildlife, the species is threatened by habitat reduction.

For context, the tiny feline is only a third the size of a typical house cat, felis catus, and would be dwarfed by the gentle giant Maine Coon.

Little Buddy’s take: These guys are awesome and I’m seriously considering moving to their territory and living among them. Do you know why? At 10 pounds I would be a giant among them, striding meowscularly through the jungle with my own personal army of felines. They would make me their king, naturally, and sing songs about Buddy the Colossal Cat. I would have their most desirable females bathed and brought to my tent, where we would dine and I would regale them with stories of my adventures in America. Sadly, though, there are no turkeys in India or Sri Lanka. Could I live without turkey?

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Helicopters, Armed Squads, Scotland Yard…For A Cat?

Wealthy Londoners freaked out at the sight of a Savannah cat on Monday, confusing the domestic-Serval hybrid for a big cat.

The pet kitty was stalking the gardens of a neighborhood known as billionaire’s row in East Finchey, north London, when it caught the attention of a mother and daughter who called police to report a large felid.

“I was sitting having dinner with my daughter in the garden when the head appeared. It looked normal so I didn’t take much notice but then the body came out,” the mother told the Evening Standard. “It was elongated, really too big for a domestic pet. The markings were like that of a cheetah or leopard.”

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A woman having dinner outside took this photo of the cat before calling police.

“We were scared. I said to myself ‘we should not be here’ and ran in the house. I took a picture on the way, it was frightening.”

“We called the police and armed officers started the hunt for the animal. They told us to stay inside. There were two police helicopters overhead. It was very dramatic, I can understand it. At that stage they had to think it was a dangerous wildcat.”

Leon Grant, who lives nearby, told the newspaper that police and neighbors thought they were dealing with a big cat.

“It was pandemonium,” Grant said. “There was a police helicopter whirring overhead and armed police and all sorts. It was being dealt with as a huge incident.”

The police, who were accompanied by a wildlife expert, stood down after they realized they were dealing with a pet, the BBC reported. The cops hadn’t found the owner, but said keeping a Savannah cat isn’t illegal in London or its outlying areas.

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A Serval cat. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Savannah cats are hybrids of domestic cats and servals, mid-sized African wildcats. The somewhat controversial breed is energetic, intelligent and needs a lot of stimulation, much like a working dog.

To be fair to the Londoners who were alarmed by the sight of the rare cat, the breed is considerably larger than typical domestic cats. A pet Savannah is about the size of two, maybe two-and-a-half Buddies: (Although not nearly as ripped or as fearsome, obviously.)

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Credit: Savannah Cat Association
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Not as big as a Savannah cat, but fearsome and terrifying!

First-generation hybrids, known as F1 Savannahs, are not considered suitable pets. Typically breeders sell F3 (third generation) or F4 cats to the general public. A Savannah cat can cost as much as $20,000 in the US, and like all exotic breeds, they’re controversial because many activists feel people shouldn’t buy pets when 1.5 million homeless cats and dogs are euthanized every year.

F1 Savannah Cat
A four-month-old F1 Savannah hybrid. Credit: Jason Douglas/Wikimedia Commons