7 interesting facts about the flat-headed cat: the unique habit of raccoons has also been observed in them

Hangai Lilla

2024. June 5 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

This red-haired, strange-looking, very small (about 2 kg and 45 cm) wild cat was first discovered in 1827. It was described on the basis of specimens collected in Sumatra, but it is also native to the Malay Peninsula and Borneo. Endangered according to the Red List; unfortunately, due to the expansion of oil palm plantations, agriculture, overfishing and water pollution, its natural habitat is disappearing.


The flat-headed cat belongs to the genus Prionailurus, so it is a close relative of the fishing cat, the leopard cat, as well as the rusty-spotted cat. Let’s see what you can learn about this magical creature!

According to DNA tests, they developed in the Miocene age

1.) They don’t just have to deal with the disappearance of their habitat

In order to survive, these adaptable cats sometimes destroy the local people’s hens. And as a result, many of them fall victim to traps. In addition, they also have to deal with large crowds of domestic cats. And car traffic is also a great danger for them.

2.) It has lived on Earth since the Miocene age

Based on the DNA tests, the flat-headed cat has probably lived on Earth since the Miocene age. Their paws have already worn the surface of wetlands and marshy areas approximately 14.45-8.38 million years ago. The first species of the Prionailurus genus was the rusty-spotted cat, from which the flat-headed cat and then the fishing cat were the first to separate.

3.) One of the characteristics of felines is only partially true

Its strikingly long and sharp teeth, as well as its muscular jaws, all serve to effectively grab wet prey even on slippery terrain. Even their claws, which can only be partially retracted, help in this; about 2/3 of them always stick out.

Like the fishing cat, the flat-headed cat has a fine web between its toes, which helps it to move in marshy areas and in shallow water.

4. Little information about them

This is due to the fact that fewer and fewer specimens live in their natural habitat. And of course also to the fact that they are cautious and hiding animals. Based on the data so far, they are presumably solitary and hunt at night, and their territory is determined by marking.

However, one captive female was active in the morning and late evening, typical of crepuscular species. Unfortunately, they do not know that this was due to the conditions of captivity, or that they live in a completely different rhythm than they thought until now. Their close-set eyes also suggest that they are probably active at night, but this seems to remain a mystery for now.

Their close-set eyes suggest that they hunt at night

5.) The habits of raccoons were discovered in their case

They have been observed washing certain objects and their food in the style of raccoons.

Despite their habitat, they do not swim. Although they catch their prey, which consists mostly of fish, by submerging their heads and then taking them about 2 meters from the water. This is necessary so that the prey cannot escape.

6.) Their voice, like that of our pets

Kitten’s voices are very similar to those of domestic cats. The vocal repertoire of adults is still being investigated, but it is certain that they also purr and communicate with other short, meow-like sounds.

7.) They are not held in captivity

Until 2017, Songkhla Zoo (Thailand) kept three cats, born in 2009, from parents who were also kept in captivity. Basically, however, zoos have almost no access to these rare felines, nor are they encouraged to do so.

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