Fishing cats hunt fish, crabs, crayfish, and frogs; but have been known to eat snakes, rodents, young deer, wild pigs, and ducks—even small livestock!
Fishing cats prefer wet habitats, but are sometimes found in tropical dry forests and have even been seen in the Indian Himalayas, at elevations of 4,900 feet in dense vegetation near rivers and streams.
Making a splash
People think that cats hate water, but there are some that love taking a dip—like the fishing cat! Fishing cats are one of the best swimmers around and are completely at home in the water. They are actually built for swimming, as their front toes are partially webbed and their claws protrude slightly even when retracted. This helps them capture prey, especially while underwater.
One of the largest members of the small cat species, the fishing cat's coloring helps it blend into its surroundings. Its coat is a gray-brown color with distinctive black spots and stripes. Six to eight black lines run from the front of the cat's head to its neck, breaking up into shorter bars and spots on the shoulders. White spots and black marks highlight the cat's cheeks, and its eyes are ringed with white fur. The ears are short and round, and the back of the ears are black. When seen from the front, the fishing cat's ears have a distinctive white spot in the center.
Catch of the day
Fishing cats eat what they can find and catch, such as small mammals, fish and birds. They have been seen eating shellfish, as well as other small prey, like lizards and amphibians. They have also been known to feed on livestock, especially poultry. In the wild, these cats "fish" at the edge of bodies of water. Researchers think they scoop prey from the depths of the water. They have also been observed "playing" with fish in shallow water.
Can you keep a secret?
Because fishing cats are nocturnal and shy, there are things we don't know about them yet, like their social structure. It is believed that they are solitary, except during breeding season and when a mother cat has kittens. A usual litter is two kittens, and they learn to fish from their mom. By the time they are 10 months old, they are ready to make their way in the world.