Thursday, July 25: Thu, Jul 25: 10:00 AM- 4:00 PM
Fishing Cat on Log

Fishing Cat

Prionailurus viverrinus

The Fishing Cat is a stocky and powerfully built medium-sized cat species found in Southeast Asia, Northern India and Sri Lanka. They are found in water habitats like wetlands, mangrove forests, marshes and densely vegetated areas along rivers and streams.

Who Says Cats Don’t Like Water?

They are highly skilled hunters and as their name suggests, known for their unique abilities to fish! Whether tapping shallow water to mimic insects that lure fish to the surface that the cat then scoops up, or diving and swimming after their prey, they use their keen eyesight and sharp claws to catch their meal. They also eat frogs, crustaceans, birds and small mammals.

Fishing Cat in Water

About twice the size of a house cat, Fishing Cat’s have physical adaptations designed for a semi-aquatic lifestyle. They have a double-layered coat, one with short, dense hair to help keep their skin dry, and longer “guard” hair which gives the cat its color pattern of olive-gray fur with black spots and stripes, great for camouflage!  They have a slight webbing between their front toes to help them swim and navigate slippery terrain. Their partially retracted claws allow them to hook and hold fish and their short, yet powerful tails act as a rudder to help them swim long distances, even in deep water!

Fishing cats are typically solitary and nocturnal hunters that rest during the day amongst dense vegetation and then head to the water to find food.  These vocal cats communicate with guttural growls, hisses and a low-pitched meow. During courtship, they make a sound called chittering, whichcan sound like a duck quacking. Breeding season is thought to be between January and February and kittens are typically born in litters of up to 4 kittens, after 60-70 days.

Conservation Status

The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species classifies Fishing Cats as Vulnerable. They face a high risk of extinction and are amongst the most susceptible of the small and medium-sized cats in Southeast Asia.

Population Threats
The major threat to the Fishing cat is wetland destruction, with more than 50% of Asian wetlands threatened and disappearing due to human settlement, pollution, drainage for agriculture, wood cutting, and excessive hunting. The Fishing cat’s main prey has been greatly reduced by destructive fishing practices. Additionally, these cats are often hunted for medicine, food, and body parts, and have also been killed in retaliation for damaging fishing nets or for taking domestic stock.

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