Bornean cat, Bornean Red Cat, Bornean Bay Cat, Bornean Marbled Cat
The Bay cat is one of the world’s rarest and least-studied cats. These cats are so elusive that it was more than a century before researchers were able to study a live cat in detail. They have striking, rust-red colored fur, with white face stripes and white under the tail. Bay cats were officially named in 1874 based on a skull and torn skin that was sent to England by Alfred Russel Wallace, the famous naturalist. In 1992 when a Bay cat was captured, naturalists had their first chance to study one. Due to being so difficult to locate, researchers do not know much at all about how these cats live. The fact that the Bay cat is so hard to find is even more frustrating because it is listed as endangered by conservationists.
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The Bay cat is found only on the island of Borneo. Dense primary forests and areas of rocky limestone are its habitat. It is sometimes seen near rivers and in highland areas.
There is very little information about the Bay cat’s biology, as observation of this animal in its natural habitat has not been possible. The secretive and nocturnal habits of bay cats, and also possibly their low numbers, may be important reasons for the rarity of sightings. Bay cats in captivity have either not lived long enough for their biology to be confirmed or no observations have yet been documented of their biology.
Nothing is known about the reproductive behavior of Bay cats, as they are difficult to observe in the wild.
Bay cats depend on the forest, and are threatened increasingly by habitat destruction in Borneo, following deforestation. Opportunistic trapping and hunting are also key threats, and smuggling also takes place.
According to the IUCN Red List, the effective population size of the Bay cat is suspected to be below 2,500 mature individuals. This species’ numbers are decreasing today and it is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List.