The Iriomote Cat is only found on Japan’s Iriomotejima Island. Similar in size to the domestic cat, it has shorter legs and thick bushy tail. Similar to the fishing cat, the Iriomote cat has rounded ears and has a white spot in the center of each ear. It is brown furred with darker brown spots that form into stripes—reminiscent of a tabby—and has rings on the end of its tail. They are possibly a subspecies of the leopard cat.
The Iriomote cat lives near water, including on beaches and cultivated land. It prefers the coastal forest areas.
Its diet includes fruit bats, black rats, wild pig, birds, insects, reptiles and amphibians, fish and crab. They mainly hunt on the ground, but do swim and spend time in trees.
An Iriomote cat's lifespan is 10 to 12 years. 1 to 4 kittens are born in a rock crevice or hollow tree den. An Iriomote cat reaches maturity at 10 to 12 months.
Fun Iriomote Cat Facts
- There may only be 60 to 100 Iriomote cats alive in the wild. They are endangered by overhunting and habitat destruction. They are also at risk of disease from feral domestic cats.
- Iriomote cats are more nocturnal in summer than winter.
- An Iriomote cat howls and meows like a domestic cat.
- This cat was not discovered until the mid1960s!
BBC: Science and Nature: Animals