Our fabulous feline in focus this month is the smallest cat we have residing with us at the Sanctuary, in fact, the smallest species on the planet, Nuwara the Sri-Lankan Rusty-spotted cat!
Born at Parc de Felins in France on 25th April 2010, Nuwara came to The Big Cat Sanctuary in spring 2011 and has been a very much-loved member of our feline family since. Although as a species cats are generally known for their feisty and characterful personalities, Nuwara takes this to a whole new level. She is fast as lightning, cheeky, and will go above and beyond for her food (even known fondly to climb the mesh of her enclosure on a Photography Workshop to get her food as quickly as possible!).
A Rusty-spotted cat, or Prionailurus rubiginosus in latin, is a small wild cat, with two subspecies found in India and Sri-Lanka. They can weigh anywhere between 1-2kgs and as little as 900g, and have a varied diet of rodents, birds, eggs, reptiles and small vertebrates, and insects. Their distinctive physical features are their small, slender bodies which are smaller than domestic cats, their small, round heads and red to brown colouring (hence the ‘rusty’ name), along with white streaks, with camouflages them perfectly into their habitat. They are traditionally found in the desert, grassland and forest areas of their geographic range.
The latest IUCN Red List assessment classified the Rusty-spotted cat as Near Threatened, with their population numbers seen to be decreasing. The Rusty-spotted cat faces a number of threats in the wild; from human development resulting in a loss of habitat, a lack of prey to human-wildlife conflict through hunting. They are known to share the same ecosystems as other wild cats, such as Jungle cats and Fishing cats, in some areas of their range.
Closer to home, Nuwara has recently started a new activity in her life here at the Sanctuary – training! If you are a regular follower of our work, either through our website, newsletter, or social media channels, you’ll see that we continually stress the importance of good physical and mental health for our cats. This is done through a variety of enrichment techniques; interesting and interactive feeds, changing to their enclosure environment including the additions of new areas to explore and new scents, and interaction with our team in the form of training. Training allows our team to make regular health checks on our cats, from teeth, claws and other physical checks, to being able to administer vaccination and other potentially vital medical care without the need to cause undue stress on the animal.
Nuwara is undertaking her training sessions with Intern Ffion. In the video below, Ffion explains what is involved in training Nuwara and follow their progress as they undertaking this new journey together.