Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) Classification
A fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) in Pessac Zoo by duloup (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

The interesting Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) is found in patches across south and south east Asia. This cat readily takes to water and dives and swims to catch fish, its principal prey. Although the Fishing Cat has partly webbed feet, this is not unique to this species and it does not appear to have any special adaptations for hunting in water. Unfortunately its dependence on wetland habitats means its populations are fast diminishing as wetlands across Asia are being drained for agriculture and human settlement.

Leopard Cat Lineage

1. Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus)

2. Mainland Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis)

3. Sunda Leopard Cat (Prionailurus javanensis)

4. Flat-headed Cat (Prionailurus planiceps)

5. Rusty-spotted Cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus)

6. Pallas’s Cat (Otocolobus manul)

Key Facts about Fishing Cats

~ Primarily feeds on fish and aquatic prey ~

~ Readily swims and dives into water ~

~ Dependent on wetland habitat ~

Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) Classification

The Fishing Cat belongs to the genus Prionailurus and the full taxonomy or scientific classification of the Fishing Cat species is:

Kingdom: Animalia (animals)

Phylum: Chordata (vertebrates)

Class: Mammalia (mammals)

Order: Carnivora (carnivores)

Suborder: Feliformia (cat-like)

Family: Felidae (cats)

Subfamily: Felinae (small cats)

Genus: Prionailurus

Species: Prionailurus viverrinus (Fishing Cat)


P.v. viverrinus
P.v. rhizophoreus

The scientific name for the Fishing Cat is Prionailurus viverrinus which is also known as the binomial name, species name, latin name, biological name or zoological name. Some use the term 'botanical name' however that term is only applicable to the plant kingdom (botany) and not the animal kingdom (zoology).

Fishing cat with fish in mouth (Prionailurus viverrinus)

Female Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus)

Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) Subspecies

Two subspecies (or lower classifications) of Fishing Cats have been described in the past:

  • Prionailurus viverrinus viverrinus - India, Sri-Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indochina, Nepal and maybe Bhutan.
  • Prionailurus viverrinus rhizophoreus - Java

These two subspecies are still recognized in the last Felidae taxonomic revision in 2017.

Fishing Cat Conservation & Research

The global conservation status for the Fishing Cat is Vulnerable (VU) and populations are declining.

The following organizations are dedicated to research and conservation of Fishing Cats:

Fishing Cat Working Group - Asia

Urban Fishing Cat Conservation - Sri Lanka

Fishing Cat Conservancy - USA based

Various Fishing Cat projects across Asia

Please support these organizations with their important work if you can. No matter the size of your donation, every bit helps!


Fishing cat kittens at waters edge (Prionailurus viverrinus)

Fishing cat swimming in river (Prionailurus viverrinus)

Fishing Cat Facts and Information

The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on Fishing Cats: