Sunday 19 May
Fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus)
- Surprisingly there is no evidence that the membrane between the fishing cat's toes is specifically adapted to swimming.
- As its name suggests the fishing cat is perfectly happy to dive into water for fish as well as scooping them out of the water from above.
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Fishing cat fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Fishing cat description
The fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) is another feline that contradicts the belief that cats dislike water, frequently entering the water to prey on fish, as its common name alludes (4). However, it has often been incorrectly credited with physical adaptations to these habits. While webbed feet have previously been noted as a characteristic of the fishing cat, the partial membrane between the toes is in fact no more developed than in other wild or domestic cats (5). The fishing cat has a long stocky body and relatively short legs, a short thick tail, a broad head and elongated muzzle (4). The pelt is olive-grey with black bars running along the neck and face, dark brown spots in rows on the body, and a series of incomplete rings circle the tail (4) (6) (7). Females are markedly smaller than males (8).
- Felis viverrinus.
- Chat Pêcheur.
- Gato Pescador. Top
IUCN Cat Specialist Group:
The Cat Survival Trust:
International Society for Endangered Cats Canada:
- Diverse group of arthropods (a phylum of animals with jointed limbs and a hard chitinous exoskeleton) characterised by the possession of two pairs of antennae, one pair of mandibles (mouthparts used for handling and processing food) and two pairs of maxillae (appendages used in eating, which are located behind the mandibles). Includes crabs, lobsters, shrimps, woodlice and barnacles.
- Gestation period
- In mammals, the period from conception to birth.
- To feed on dead material, often on animals that have been killed by another predator.
IUCN Red List (October, 2008)
Animal Diversity Web (October, 2005)
CITES (October, 2005)
International Society for Endangered Cats Canada (October, 2005)
The Cat Survival Trust (October, 2005)
Lioncrusher’s Domain (October, 2005)
- Macdonald, D. (2001) The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
IUCN Cat Specialist Group (October, 2005)
- Jackson, P. (2006) Pers. comm.
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
Fishing cat biology
As its name implies, the fishing cat predominantly preys on fish (6). Largely active at night, fishing cats are good swimmers and have been observed diving for fish, as well as scooping them out of the water with their paws (8). These cats will also prey on frogs, crustaceans, snakes, birds, calves, goats, and dogs, and will scavenge on carcasses of larger animals (5).
Although capable of breeding all year round (6), birth peaks have been noted in March and May in north-eastern India (8). One to four kittens are born after a gestation period of 63 days (7). Young suckle until they are six months old (5) and reach independence at ten months (8). In captivity, males have been recorded to aid in the rearing of young (5). Fishing cats live an average of 12 years (8), but have been known to live more than 15 years in captivity (5).Top
Fishing cat range
The fishing cat is discontinuously distributed throughout southern and southeast Asia, found in northeastern India, the foot of the Himalayas in Nepal and India, and a few scattered areas in the rest of India, Bangladesh, Indus Valley Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and in the Indonesian Islands of Sumatra and Java. A few reports in peninsular Malaysia have not established whether the fishing cat is resident (9).Top
Fishing cat habitatTop
Fishing cat statusTop
Fishing cat threats
The primary threat the fishing cat faces is wetland destruction, with over 50 percent of Asian wetlands under threat and disappearing (4) (8), as a result of human settlement, drainage for agriculture, pollution, excessive hunting, and wood-cutting (1). Destructive fishing practices have also greatly reduced the fishing cat’s main prey base. Additionally, fishing cats are hunted for food, medicine, and body parts in some areas of their range, and have been persecuted for taking domestic stock (1). The skin of the fishing cat has occasionally been observed in Asian markets, although far less frequently than other cats (4).Top
Fishing cat conservation
The fishing cat is classed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, meaning that it is ‘facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild’ (1) (9). The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) lists the fishing cat on Appendix II, under which permits are required for international traffic in this species (5). The fishing cat is also protected by national legislation over most of its range, with the exception of Bhutan, Malaysia and Vietnam (4). Legal protection is extremely difficult to enforce, however, and illegal poaching does take place (4) (5). In addition to enforcing protective legislation for this species, it is crucial that there is protection of its wetland habitat. Habitat degradation has been the most significant contributor to the decline in numbers, and this must be addressed if we are to maintain populations of this beautiful and extraordinary cat throughout its range across southern and southeast Asia.Top
Find out more
For more information on the fishing cat:
Authenticated (28/04/06) by Peter Jackson, Chair, IUCN Cat Specialist Group.
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.