Bay Cat

Bay Cat

Bornean cat, Bornean Red Cat, Bornean Bay Cat, Bornean Marbled Cat, Borneo bay cat, Bornean bay cat

Catopuma badia
Population size
Bnelow 2,500
Life Span
10-17 years
kg lbs 
cm inch 

The bay cat (Catopuma badia ), also known as Borneo bay cat and Bornean bay cat, is a small wild cat endemic to the island of Borneo that appears to be relatively rare compared to sympatric wild cats, based on the paucity of historical, as well as recent records. Since 2002, it has been listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List because it is estimated that fewer than 2,500 mature individuals exist, and that the population declined in the past.The bay cat has been recorded as rare and seems to occur at relatively low density, even in pristine habitat.


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.



Biogeographical realms

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.

Bay Cat habitat map


Climate zones

Bay Cat habitat map
Bay Cat

Habits and Lifestyle

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.

Diet and Nutrition

The diet of the Bay cat includes small rodents, carrion, birds, and monkeys.

Mating Habits


Nothing is known about the reproductive behavior of Bay cats, as they are difficult to observe in the wild.


Population threats

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.

Population number

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.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The hair of the Bay cat on its nape, sides of its crown, cheeks and the front of its throat grows forwards instead of backwards.
  • The Bay cat is somewhat unusual-looking amongst wild cats, as it is the same size as a large domestic cat, but its tail is relatively long.
  • The Bay cat has two color variations: red-brown, which is more common, and gray-black. There is a dark M-shaped mark on the back of the head.
  • Some Bay cats have been seen up in trees, suggesting either that these cats are arboreal (living in trees) or agile climbers.
  • Bay cats are hardly ever caught on tape. After 5,034 nights’ recording, one photo only of a bay cat was recorded.
  • This species was discovered in the 19th century, but the first individual was not caught alive until 1992, a thin sick female.
  • Based on genetic and morphological evidence, the Bay cat is a close relative of the Asian golden cat and the Marbled cat.


1. Bay Cat Wikipedia article -
2. Bay Cat on The IUCN Red List site -

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