Fun Fishing Cat Facts For Kids

Anusuya Mukherjee
Feb 21, 2024 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Shray Sharma
Fishing cat facts: are great swimmers.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 9.6 Min

If you are looking to find out how a fishing cat is different from a house cat, you have come to the right place. Our in-depth research on fishing cats will clear all your doubts about the species.

A fishing cat belongs to the order Carnivora, family Felidae, genus Prionailurus. Its scientific name is Prionailurus viverrinus, and this species is considered Vulnerable as it is at the risk of extinction. It is prominent in Southeast Asian countries like Bhutan, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Thailand. It is a flat-headed wild cat with a short tail and black stripes and spots all over the body. It is double the size of a domestic cat and has a medium stocky, muscular body with short legs. There are about two species of fishing cats, and both the species are believed to be nocturnal, which means they are highly active during the night.

If you find these facts interesting, then read on to find more about this one-of-a-kind species. If you would like to know more about some other feline species, also go through our contents on clouded leopard and Tasmanian tiger.

Fishing Cat Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a fishing cat?

Prionailurus Viverrinus (Fishing Cat) is medium-sized and belongs to the cat species. It is found in Southeast Asia's wetland areas, and it has adapted itself to hunt in marshy areas. These wild cats have partially webbed paws that allow them to swim and catch their prey from the shallow water. These Prionailurus species have a short tail, stocky body, and short legs. The most significant difference between these wild cats and their relatives is that their claws are not fully retractable like other feline species.

What class of animal does a fishing cat belong to?

The Fishing Cat (Prionailurus Viverrinus) belongs to the class Mammalia, order Carnivora, Family Felidae, Genus Prionailurus. Like other mammals, the female fishing cats give birth to young ones who feed on their mother's milk till they are one and a half months old, after which they start eating meat.

How many fishing cats are there in the world?

The number of Fishing Cats left across the world is believed to be less than 3,000. The biggest threat to Fishing Cats is the destruction of their wetland habitats for human settlements and poaching for their skin. Many steps have been taken worldwide for their conservation, like banning poaching of these wild cats, declaring their natural habitats as protected areas, and building a special national park for their protection. Their numbers are slowly increasing because of the efforts taken by government agencies and NGOs worldwide.

Where does a fishing cat live?

Fishing cats are found in the wetland areas of Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, China, Nepal, Brunei, Pakistan, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, along with the Indonesian Islands.

What is a fishing cat's habitat?

Fishing cats prefer wetland areas with dense vegetation, which provides an ideal cover for them to hide from their prey and predators. Fishing Cats are also found in areas of the forests close to rivers, lakes, estuarine floodplains, tidal mangrove swamp forests, marshes, reed beds, and inland freshwater habitats.

Who do Fishing Cats live with?

Fishing cats live a solitary life which means they prefer to live alone except for the breeding season. During the breeding season, male and female fishing cats come together for mating. After mating, they go back to their territories and live a solo life. Fishing cats mark their territories and hunt in the shallow waters of those territories.

How long does a Fishing Cat live?

The Fishing cats' average life span varies between 10-12 years. It is often seen that in the wild due to the destruction of its habitat and other factors, it hardly lives beyond 10 years. However, in zoos, it can live up to 12 years with proper care and diet.

How do they reproduce?

Female fishing cats mark their territories with scent and make mating calls to attract the male near their territory. The kind of reproduction they follow is sexual reproduction. After mating, the female continues with its gestation period that lasts for 60-70 days but the male leaves. The average litter size is two kittens, and these kittens are blind when they are born. The kittens open their eyes and start developing eyesight and looking after two weeks. After 50 days, they start to eat meat, and till then, they feed on their mother's milk. When six to eight months old, fishing cats reach adult size and become completely independent by ten months. They reach their sexual maturity soon after and leave to establish their own territory.

What is their conservation status?

In 2008, fishing cats were placed under the Endangered species category by the IUCN Red List as their numbers were less than 3000 globally. Poaching and destruction of their natural habitats by humans are the main reasons for the decline in their population. However, strong measures taken by the government agencies ensured that their numbers increased, and in 2016 the fishing cats were moved to the Vulnerable category by the IUCN Red List.

Fishing Cat Fun Facts

What do fishing cats look like?

Fishing cats were moved to Vulnerable category in 2016 by IUCN Red List.

The fishing cat is medium-sized with greying fur, black spots, and black lines. It has stripes on the cheeks, above the eyes, neck, and forehead. It has a stocky body, and it is flat-headed with short limbs. It has a unique two-layered fur coat, the inner coat keeps the cat warm and dry while swimming and the outer coat is made of guard hairs that are responsible for the color and pattern of the coat. They swim very well because of their partially webbed feet, which help them catch fish easily.

How cute are they?

Fishing cats can look cute and cuddly, but that doesn't mean they can be petted. They are very aggressive creatures and can attack anybody if they feel threatened. So it is better to enjoy their cuteness from far away or in photographs.

How do they communicate?

Fishing cats communicate through hisses, low demanding meow, or growls. Another way of communication is through their smelly urine. They mark their territories with their urine, signaling other fishing cats not to enter their territory. A female and male make some chittering sounds during the mating season, the female displays her willingness to mate, and the male displays his submissiveness through these peculiar sounds.

How big is a fishing cat?

A fishing cat is about twice the size as compared to a typical house cat. Its average body length is between 22.4-33.4 in (57-85 cm) and height is about 16 in ( 40 cm), which is much bigger as compared to a house cat whose average length is 18.1 in (46 cm) and height is 9.1 in (23 cm).

How fast can a fishing cat move?

A fishing cat is a vicious predator and can run very fast. It can cover 34 mph (54.7 kph). This ability helps it to hunt small mammals on land.

How much does a fishing cat weigh?

The fishing cat's average weight is about 11-35 lb (5.1-16 kg). Female fishing cats weigh between 11-15 lb (5.1-6.8 kg), and males weigh around 19-35 lb (8.5-16 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

The male and female fishing cat species do not have any specific names. Both are known as fishing cats. Their babies are known as kittens.

What would you call a baby fishing cat?

The baby of the Fishing cat is known as a kitten. These kittens weigh about 0.3 lb (150 g) when they are born and gain weight very slowly. Their eyes remain closed for two weeks. They depend on their mother's milk for up to 50 days and then they start eating solid food. These kittens reach their adult size after nine months.

What do they eat?

The fishing cat is a carnivorous animal, and most of its diet primarily consists of aquatic animals like fish, mollusks, snails, frogs, and snakes. Sometimes they hunt small mammals like dogs, civets, and livestock. Sometimes they also scavenge on the dead remains of larger animals. They love to eat fish, and hence they get their name, the fishing cat. They are excellent swimmers, so they dive into rivers and lakes when they spot a fish in the shallow water and catch the fish with its mouth. Another way they hunt is that they sit on banks, and with their paw, they lightly tap the surface of the water, which attracts the fish to the surface, and they catch the fish with their paws.

Are they dangerous?

Fishing cats are hostile toward small mammals. They are known to catch and kill house pets. Fishing cats are not dangerous to humans as they usually try to avoid contact with humans. But some fierce and larger cats are known to have attacked humans when they were hungry or in self-defense.

Would they make a good pet?

No, fishing cats do not make good pets as they are very aggressive and have sharp teeth and claws. They are vicious predators, and sometimes they stalk and kill small house pets. If one wants to adopt a feline species, a normal house cat would be a better option.

Did you know...

The fishing cat was first named in 1833 by Bennet, and its scientific name means 'civet-like'. Although they are not related to civets, they look similar to them.

It is believed that the ancestors of the fishing cat evolved some six million years ago and are part of the Leopard Cat lineage.

Although fishing cats are found in watery lowland areas, a small population also lives at elevations of 5,000 feet (1524 m) near the waterways found in that area.

Is the fishing cat endangered?

Fishing cats are Endangered mainly because of human activities. There are less than 3000 fishing cats around the world.

The destruction of fishing cat's natural habitats by humans for industrial and commercial purposes is a great concern. Humans are polluting the water bodies, affecting the wildlife dependent on these water bodies, including the fishing cats.

Many habitats of these fishing cats have been declared protected areas, and any unwanted human interference is prohibited in these areas.

There is a massive demand for their skin with spots and stripes, leading to poaching fishing cats for their fur and meat.

Fishing cat's poaching will lead to jail and hefty fines. This is done to control the poaching amount.

The ever-growing human settlements have increased the fishing activities in the fishing cat's habitats. This overfishing has led to the decline in the habitat's fish population, which is the staple food for the fishing cat.

Many measures have been taken to control this overfishing so that fishing cat doesn't starve to death.

All these steps taken by authorities have led to an increase in the fishing cat's population. So in 2016, the Fishing Cat was moved from the Endangered to Vulnerable category by IUCN Red List.

Fishing cats and humans

A century ago, the fishing cats lived in their natural habitats and away from humans. But these days, because of the growing human population, more and more human settlements have been encroaching on the natural habitat of these wild cats, often bringing them face to face with the human population. They are highly predatory wild cats with sharp teeth, and claws, unlike normal house cats. They usually try to avoid humans unless they are under threat or hungry. They are often seen attacking small pets and livestock raised by humans.

Poaching, pollution, overfishing, and destruction of wetland habitats by humans are some of the reasons for the steady decline in these wild cats' population.

Everything in the universe is interlinked. If one species is destroyed, this disturbs the delicate balance in the universe and can ultimately lead to the destruction of many other species, including humans. As humans are at the top of the food chain, it becomes their duty to save these Vulnerable/Endangered species.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including ferret, or plains zebra.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Fishing cat coloring pages.

Fishing Cat Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Frogs, crustaceans, snakes, birds, fish, lizards, and dead animals

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?

1 - 4

How Much Did They Weigh?

11-35 lb (5.1-16 kg)

What habitat Do they Live In?

wetland areas

Where Do They Live?

southeast asia

How Long Were They?

22.4-33.4 in (57 -85 cm)

How Tall Were They?

16 in (40 cm)







Scientific Name

Prionailurus viverrinus

What Do They Look Like?

Black, Olive-grey

Skin Type


What Are Their Main Threats?


What is their Conservation Status?

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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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