Copyright 1993-2007, Sarah Hartwell

There are unconfirmed reports that the Rusty-Spotted cat (F rubiginosa or Prionailurus rubiginosus), a close relative of the Asian Leopard Cat, interbreeds freely with domestic cats, but too little is known about this species to be certain. It weighs just over 2 lbs and is half the size of an average domestic cat. Its range overlaps with the domestic cat and it may interbreed naturally.

To date, there have been no attempts to deliberately hybridise the Rusty Spotted cat, but their affectionate nature means they are self-domesticating and can become pets. As pets, they may breed with the larger domestic cat and at least one possible hybrid between the Rusty-Spotted Cat and domestic cat has been reported. Outside Sri Lanka’s Yala National Park, Kittle and Watson (2004) observed a rusty-spotted cat mating with a domestic cat and also saw a potential hybrid ("being slightly larger in size, with long legs and exhibiting unusual markings on a paler background").

THE RUBIGINOUS CAT. (The Field, 1st October 1881) The habits of the rubiginous [rusty spotted] cat are well described by Dr. jerdon in his work on “The Mammals of India.” He writes: “[. . .] Mr W. Elliot notices that he has seen several undoubted hybrids between this and the domestic cat, and I have also observed the same."

Mr Bartlett is confident that the beautiful specimen in the gardens will become quite tame, and he proposes to rear some hybrids with the domestic species. I would suggest a spotted red tabby. That these hybrids will be perfectly fertile I regard as a foregone conclusion. Our domestic cat has hybridised with the smaller Felidae of all parts of the world, and is now a wonderful example of miscegenation, the tame cats of every country partaking more or less of the character of the wild species of the district. – W. B. TEGETMEIER



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