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By Green Minute News:

Two Rusty-spotted cats were rescued and reunited with their mother recently in Ambegaon, Pune, Maharashtra, India. One of the smallest members of the Felid family, these wild cats have the distinction of being the world’s smallest cat and weighs only 1.8-3.5 pounds. 

Photo credits : WILDLIFE SOS

About 14-19 inches in length with its long, bushy tail being half the size of the body, the Rusty spotted cat shares its habitat with the tiger in many areas. Very little is known about the status of this species in India. They are shy, solitary in nature but sometimes, have been spotted in agricultural fields.

Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder & CEO of Wildlife SOS, said, “The Rusty-spotted cat is one of the world’s smallest wild cats. Owing to its ‘Near-Threatened’ status on the IUCN Red List, it was extremely important for us to safely reunite the 2 kittens with the mother and ensure their safe return to its natural habitat.”

The Rusty-spotted cats were first spotted by farmers of Chincholi village who mistakenly identified them as leopard cubs! Taking quick action, they immediately contacted the Maharashtra Forest Department who in turn alerted the Wildlife SOS team operating out of Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre.

The tiny beautiful pair that were found in this village was rescued immediately. Post a quick medical examination, the kittens were reunited with their mother! Wildlife SOS veterinarian Dr Nikhil Bangar conducted an on-site examination which confirmed that the two felines were in fact, 45-days-old and identified it as one male and one female. “The kittens were very active! Due to their size, speed and agility, Rusty-spotted cats are often referred to as the hummingbird of the cat family.”

Further, the team received reports of an adult Rusty-spotted cat prowling the same location from where the kittens were rescued. The kittens were placed in a safe box so they could be reunited with their mother! Such rescue operations are time-sensitive as minimizing the time of separation between kittens and mothers is an important contributing factor for a successful reunion.

Sampat Subhash Tandale, Forest Guard, Ambegaon division said “We were alerted by the local farmers about the presence of kittens in their sugarcane fields.  The farmers were extremely scared as they had misidentified the Rusty Spotted cats as leopard cubs! We safeguarded the kittens on the site itself and immediately contacted Wildlife SOS to help us in ensuring they were healthy and could be safely reunited with their mother.”

The Rusty-spotted cat is nocturnal and feeds mainly on rodents, birds, lizards, frogs and insects. After a gestation of approximately 67 days, females produce a litter of 1-3 kittens. Common threats to this species include deforestation, habitat modification, poaching and hunting. This species is protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Their distribution is limited to the dry deciduous forests, scrubs and grasslands of India and Sri Lanka. They have been recently sighted in Nepal.