Animal Info - Bay Cat

(Other Names: Bornean Bay Cat, Bornean Marbled Cat, Borneo-katze, Chat Bai, Gato Rojo de Borneo, Kucing Kalimantan, Kucing Merah)

Catopuma badia (Felis b.)

Status: Endangered


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, Taxonomy, Population Estimates, Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Size and Weight, Habitat, Diet, Behavior)
5. References


Profile

Pictures: Bay Cat #1 (4 Kb JPEG) (Tiger Terr.); Bay Cat #2 (22 Kb JPEG) (Fauves du Monde); Bay Cat #3 (33 Kb JPEG) (Cat Act. Treas.); Bay Cat #4 (48 Kb JPEG) (Cat Act. Treas.) 

The bay cat is about the size of a large house cat with an extra long tail. It may weigh several kilograms (6 - 8 lb).  Its coat can be mahogany red or blackish gray on the back and flanks, but it is usually paler on the underparts. The last half of the tail is conspicuously white underneath. The ears are short and rounded, set well down on the sides of the head.

The bay cat seems to occur in a range of habitat types, varying from hill forests to dipterocarp forest and swamp forest. It appears to favor highland areas, and at least three specimens were collected along rivers. The bay cat has been reported to inhabit primary forest, but there have also been sightings at night in logged dipterocarp forest. Its diet is thought to include small mammals, birds, monkeys and carrion.  It is secretive and generally nocturnal

The bay cat is known only from the island of Borneo, and it has long been considered rare. It has been seen in the wild just a handful of times by biologists, and local people describe it as uncommon. Anecdotal sighting reports indicated that the bay cat is widely distributed in Borneo, but that there is a concentration of reports in the more remote, montane central part of the island. 

After 1928, there were no confirmed sightings of the bay cat until 1992, when an adult female, which had been captured by native trappers and kept in captivity for some months, was brought into the Sarawak Museum. It was only the seventh known specimen and the first of a whole animal. 

There has been significant habitat loss on Borneo due to deforestation from intensive commercial logging and urban resettlement programs.  In addition, because of their rarity, bay cats have been captured illegally from the wild for the skin and pet markets. Local trappers and animal dealers are well aware that foreign zoos and breeding facilities will pay US$10,000 or more for a live animal.


Tidbits

*** Cat Tidbit #1: Cats have specialized touch-sensitive hairs, called "vibrissae", on either side of the muzzle (whiskers), around the eyes, below the chin, and on the wrists. Whiskers provide a sort of vision by touch, a tactile third eye, that is critical to cats hunting at night. Sensitive enough to detect minor changes in air currents moving around objects, whiskers permit even blindfolded cats to avoid obstacles without touching them. (Sunquist & Sunquist 2002) (See Cat Tidbit #2.)

*** Less is known about the bay cat than about any of the world's other cat species (Sunquist & Sunquist 2002).


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

[The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature; also called the World Conservation Union) is the world’s largest conservation organization. Its members include countries, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations.  The IUCN determines the worldwide status of threatened animals and publishes the status in its Red List.]

  • 1986 - 1990: Rare
  • 1994: Insufficiently Known
  • 1996: Vulnerable 
  • 2002 - 2005: Endangered; (Criteria: C2a(ii)) (Population Trend: Decreasing) (IUCN 2005) 

Countries Where the Bay Cat Is Currently Found:

2005: Occurs on the island of Borneo (Brunei, Indonesia (Kalimantan) and Malaysia (Sabah, Sarawak)). (IUCN 2005)

Taxonomy:

Recent genetic analyses have lead to the proposal that all modern cats can be placed into eight lineages which originated between 6.2 - 10.8 million years ago. The bay cat is placed in the "bay cat lineage," which diverged from its ancestors as a separate lineage 10.8 million years ago. The bay cat lineage also includes the Asiatic golden cat and the marbled cat(Johnson et al. 2006)

Population Estimates:

[Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]

  • WORLD
    • Based on estimates of geographic range and average densities of other small tropical rainforest cats, the bay cat’s total effective population size is estimated at below 2,500 mature breeding individuals (IUCN 2005).

Distribution:

The bay cat is known only from the island of Borneo, and it has long been considered rare. It has been seen in the wild just a handful of times by biologists, and local people describe it as uncommon. Anecdotal sighting reports indicated that the bay cat is widely distributed in Borneo, but that there is a concentration of reports in the more remote, montane central part of the island. (Meijaard 1997, IUCN 2005)

After 1928, there were no confirmed sightings of the bay cat until 1992, when an adult female, which had been captured by native trappers and kept in captivity for some months, was brought into the Sarawak Museum. It was only the seventh known specimen and the first of a whole animal. (Sunquist et al. 1994)

Distribution Map (1 Kb GIF) (Big Cats Online)

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

There has been significant habitat loss on Borneo due to deforestation from intensive commercial logging and urban resettlement programs.  In addition, because of its rarity, bay cats have been captured illegally from the wild for the skin and pet markets. Local trappers and animal dealers are well aware that foreign zoos and breeding facilities will pay US$10,000 or more for a live animal. (Sunquist & Sunquist 2002, IUCN 2005)


Data on Biology and Ecology

Size and Weight:

The head and body length of the three bay cats that have been measured ranged from 53 cm (21") (female) - 67 cm (26") (male). Only one bay cat has been weighed; namely, the female cat mentioned above, which was brought to the Sarawak museum in late 1992 on the point of death. The cat weighed 1.95 kg (4.3 lb), but was estimated to have weighed between 3 - 4 kg (6.6 - 8.8 lb) when healthy. (Nowell & Jackson 1996, Sunquist & Sunquist 2002)

Habitat:

Historic and recent reports of collections and sightings of the bay cat seems to indicate that it occurs in a range of habitat types, varying from hill forests, up to at least 500 m (1600') altitude, to dipterocarp forest and swamp forest. All collections and precise sightings have been in highland areas, and at least three specimens were collected along rivers. The bay cat has been reported to inhabit dense primary forests, but there have also been sightings at night in logged dipterocarp forest. (Meijaard 1997, Nowak 1999, IUCN 2005)

The bay cat is found in the Sundaland Biodiversity Hotspot (Cons. Intl. 2005).  

Diet:

The bay cat is said to feed on small mammals, birds, monkeys and carrion (Cat Surv. Tr. 1998).

Behavior:

The bay cat is secretive and generally nocturnal (Meijaard 1997).


References

Big Cats Online, Cat Act. Treas., Cat Surv. Tr. 1998, Cons. Intl. 2005, Fauves du Monde, IUCN 2005, Johnson et al. 2006, Meijaard 1997, Nowak 1999, Nowell & Jackson 1996, Sunquist et al. 1994, Sunquist & Sunquist 2002, Tiger Terr. 


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Last modified: April 27, 2006;

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