Rusty-spotted Cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) Classification
Rusty-spotted Cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) by UrLunkwill [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0 de] via Wikimedia Commons

The diminutive Rusty-spotted Cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) only occurs within India and Sri-Lanka and a small region of Nepal. The Rusty-spotted Cat is very active and an agile climber, however little is known about this rarely seen cat and crucial research is needed. Rapid transformation of remaining natural land for human use is dramatically reducing available habitat for this and other small wild cats in the region.

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 Rusty-spotted Cats

~ Smallest of all wild cats ~

~  Only occurs in India, Nepal & Sri Lanka ~

~ Agile climber and highly active ~

Rusty-spotted Cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) Classification

The Rusty-spotted Cat belongs to the genus Prionailurus and the full taxonomy or scientific classification of the Rusty-spotted 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 rubiginosus (Rusty-spotted Cat)

Subspecies: None


The scientific name for the Rusty-spotted Cat is Prionailurus rubiginosus 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).

Rusty-spotted Cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) climbing in tree

Rusty-spotted cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) ssp. phillipsi (Sri Lanka)

Rusty-spotted Cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) Subspecies

Three subspecies of Rusty-spotted Cat have been described in the past, and the last Felidae taxonomic revision in 2017 continues with this classification pending further research:

  • Prionailurus rubiginosus rubiginosus - India and Nepal
  • Prionailurus rubiginosus phillipsi - Sri Lanka wet forest zone
  • Prionailurus rubiginosus koladivius - Sri Lanka lowland dry zone

Rusty-spotted Cat Conservation & Research

The global conservation status for the Rusty-spotted Cat is Near Threatened (NT) and populations are declining.

The following organizations are dedicated to research and conservation of Rusty-spotted Cats and other small cats:

Sri Lanka - Small Cat Advocacy and Research SCAR

Global small cat conservation - Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundation SWCCF

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

Past projects:


Rusty-spotted cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) denning in tree cavity

Rusty-spotted cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) hunting on the ground

Rusty-spotted Cat Facts and Information

The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on Rusty-spotted Cats: