Cat of the Month ~ April 2011When a cat reaches water you expect it to be inquisitive, but to shy away from this unfamiliar medium. Not so with the Fishing Cat, one of several felines which are comfortable in and around water. Fishing cats are found, not surprisingly, in a number of habitats with an expanse of water nearby. Densely vegetated areas along rivers and streams including marshes and mangrove swamps are typical environments. These cats are powerful swimmers, pushing themselves through the water with their hind feet. They wade and swim in shallow water (like the similar creature the Civet), hunting for a variety of aquatic prey, including fish, frogs and toads, snails and crustaceans. They will also stalk, catch and eat small birds, mammals and snakes. A curious and unique feature of this cats hunting technique is to attract fish by lightly tapping the water’s surface with its paw, mimicking insect movements. Then, it dives into the water to catch the fish in its claws! It will also swim underwater to prey on ducks and other aquatic birds.
Prionailurus Viverrinus, in the Wild ~ Rare Footage from the BBC – Link to remote file
The Fishing Cat ~ Usually nocturnal it is rarely seen in the wild
The fishing cat’s general distribution is southwest India, Sri Lanka, countries of the southern Himalayas, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, China, and the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra. However, these cats are not found all throughout this broad area because of their habitat preferences of densely vegetated areas and near to a water course or lake. Fishing cats are are listed as endangered on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species (Appendix II of CITES). They are protected over most of their range, with the exceptions of Bhutan, Malaysia and Vietnam. However their population status overall is not known. They are threatened by habitat loss (mainly Wetland destruction) and the threat of human hunting for food and fur. People have drained many wetland areas to make room for farmland and roads. Pollution from industries has poisoned rivers and streams where fishing cats once fed. However, fishing cats appear to do well in suburban habitats, so they may prove adaptable to human activities that some other species.