What’s the world's smallest cat?
Smaller than an adult domestic cat, there are two species of wild cat that could be considered the world’s smallest cat.
Vying for first place in the smallest cat in the world category are the rusty-spotted cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) and black-footed cat (Felis nigripes), which are very close in size, measuring 35-48cm and 35-52cm in length respectively.
The smallest cats in the world
Each cat is the smallest species on its continent – the rusty-spotted cat is found in Asia (India, Sri Lanka and a small part of Nepal), whilst the black-footed cat (also known as the small-spotted cat) is found in southern African (including South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe).
Both species are thought to be nocturnal, feeding mainly on rodents and small birds – though black-footed cats are known to prey on Cape hares which are heavier than the cat.
The best cat hunter
Black-footed cats hit their targets 60 per cent of the time, making them the most successful feline hunters and the second-most successful of the mammals (following African wild dogs in first place with 85 per cent).
Ongoing studies of black-footed cats have revealed that the species feeds on 40 different vertebrates. It catches and eats up to 14 individual small animals each night, and is able to catch birds in flight – jumping up to 1.4 metres in height to do so.
Though they are named to be black-footed, it’s actually only the soles of their feet that are black or dark brown.
Whilst the black-footed cat is usually solitary (with the exception of females with kittens), little is known about the behaviour of the rusty-spotted cat.
Main image: Rusty-spotted cat on a tree branch (in captivity). © Colin Langford/500px/Getty