Sunday, September 16, 2007

Iriomote Cat

The rarest of all cats, the beautiful Iriomote Cat resides solely on the Japanese Iriomote island, located some two hundred kilometers off the coast of Taiwan. It has lived for millennia on this small island (less than three hundred square kilometers) and has evolved to suit the habitat and environment of this particular place. Owing to similarities in appearance, for some time the Iriomote Cat was considered a subspecies of the Leopard Cat. Recent evidence however indicated that the Iriomote Cat separated from the Leopard Cat in evolution couple of million years ago. A small wild cat, the Iriomote Cat weighs around twelve pounds and is around one a half to two feet long (excluding tail). Males are slightly larger.

Fur is brownish with a number of dark brown spots that coalesce to form stripes which run along the body length. Legs are short in comparison to body size and tail is bushy. Toes are slightly webbed and claws lack a complete sheath, helping the cat in its aquatic pursuits of prey. Ears are short and rounded indicating that the Iriomote Cat primarily uses sight in its movement and hunting.

A variety of prey is taken by the Iriomote Cat. Its small body size enables it to move quickly through the underbrush and successfully hunt small mammals, birds, insects and fish. It is a solitary and territorial feline that frequently marks its territory (larger in case of males) and is primarily nocturnal, particularly in summer. Mating season is twice an year and pregnancy lasts two months after which a litter of one to four kittens is born.

Prionailurus Iriomotensis, the Iriomote Cat is critically endangered. Less than one hundred remain in the wild. Plus they appear to be breeding with feral cats, leading to dilution of their gene pool. Despite preservation of their territory on the island, the cats frequently stray out of the reserve area and are hunted/eaten as a delicacy!

58 comments:

Daisy said...

I have never, ever heard of the Iriomote Cat. I am very mad that they are hunted and eaten when there are less than 100 left in the wild. I hope they can make a comeback.

Christine and FAZ said...

Amazing markings. I've never seen an iromote before. I agree with Daisy too. FAZ

Gemini said...

I think it is horrible to think that this lovely precious species can still be eaten!

Lux said...

It's really pretty - I'd never heard of these cats before. They weigh about what *I do!

Chairman Mao said...

Wow, I'd nefur heard of the Iriomote Kitty! Thanks fur sharin' informashun about 'em with us -- they look furry bee-yootiful and I hope they can rebound in the wild.

Kittyhugs and purrs from MaoMao!

Marilyn MonREOW said...

What fascinating information about the Iriomote Cat, and how sad that there are only 100 of them left in the wild. They are beautiful kitties.

I love the song "Candle in the Wind", too! *smile*

Purrs and snuggles from Marilyn.

Rascal said...

Very interesting. From the first picture I thought it looked like a wild torti. Now I think it just looks wild.

Dragonheart said...

Those Iriomote cats are very beautiful! I had never heard of them before. It is horrible that they are eaten.

michico 小芥 said...

I never now Iriomote cat, too.
They are very beautiful, should very treature by human~!

Karen Jo said...

I also had never heard of the Iriomote cat before. They are very beautiful. It is very sad that people think that they can hunt and eat them just because they stray out of their protected area. I find that just horrible. I hope that they can survive.

Miss Peach>(^,^) said...

Omer you never run out of ways to amaze us with your vast knowledge of cats all over the world!
People must stop and realize once they are gone...THEY WILL NOT BE BACK>>>>>EVER!
Thank you for your visit...I have missed you because I have been so busy. Autumn=slower days=more blogging time ahead for me:)
Love Peach

The Cat Realm said...

I didn't even know that those cats exist! And they are SOOOO beautiful!
And people who hunt and eat cats should be burned at the stake! There goes my Buddhist nature - down the drain - I just get so mad about cruel and ignorant people....
Karl

THE ZOO said...

Such a pretty cat. weve nefur hurd of one before efer.

Eric and Flynn said...

We had never heard of Iriomote cats either. That is horrible that people eat them.

caspersmom said...

See how informative you are Omer. Nobody has ever heard of this beautiful cat before, including me. It is so sad that they are on the endangered species list, and also mating with feral cats.

cutiewholovesanimals said...

me too i`m with her i love iromote wild cats i`ts just not fiar for thesse cats to die constently!i`m in so much RAGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

cutiewholovesanimals said...

i personaly hate cat killers and racis even though i am white blacks are people too! and same with cats they should be more appriceated and worshiped

Anonymous said...

I lived in Okinawa, Japan for five years from '95-2000 and I have NEVER heard of anyone, let alone the native islanders of Iriomote eating cat. It is absurd to think that someone would eat a 12 pound carnivore. The iriomote cat is revered as an icon of the island, not a snack.

Carol Phillips said...

I am relieved to hear that they are revered as an icon of the island, not as a snack. I have very reciently become interested in this species. I wonder, is there anything going on to help preserve their existance? "Save the Iriomote Cat" perhaps? How would I find out?

Ailurophile said...

@ Anonymous

Thanks for sharing your experience. I hope you are right.

@ Carol

Thanks for dropping by, and for your interest in the iriomote cat. There are a couple of dedicated scientists working towards the preservation of this species, I believe in its native land. Just send an email to support@ofcats.com with 'iriomote' in the subject line and I'll be glad to provide you with their email addresses.

All the best.

Anonymous said...

I never heard of these before --was actually looking up something on Burmese tigers (which sadly are extinct) --unbelievable that someone could eat them

Dalezy said...

Here's a pix http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/bigphotos/images/070829-rarest-cat_big.jpg

Anonymous said...

They should make the entire island a reserve for them or a part were more of them live.

Jonathan said...

I have lived on Iriomote Island and I have never heard of anyone eating Iriomote wild cats...Even people who have lived there 20 years plus have never seen one or maybe have seen one once in their life. So I am unsure about the above information. I think it is an absolute cheek to have a go at the locals accusing them of such a thing...Some of the locals I have met are have alot of respect for nature, especially native okinawans. Remember how many cats are exterminated over here in the west every day..Oh but I guess that's okay coz there are so many of them. I am a huge animals lover, but when it comes to westerners, you should remember the animal cruelty in your own back yards before you start pointing the fingers at others. Ofcoarse I am always open to that I may be wrong...

Anonymous said...

I find out about iriomote cats from Tokyo Mew Mew books but they are worst off than I expected!I expected them to get better since 2004 but they haven't.I hope they get a larger population soon.
;-;

Anonymous said...

I Agree with Jonathan. I dont belive that ithe iriomote cat is being eating those i have lived there 2 years and i never heard of eating those. Anyway i hope that there is any way i can help (finacal, etc.) Just write to my Email BLom112@hotmail.com. And i will try to do my best
:)

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of this cat before. Hearing that they are endangered & still being eaten makes me sooo mad!!!!!!!!!

mippa said...

What is your citation that the inhabitants of Irimote eat these cats? To echo the others, I have lived in Japan and the idea of them eating cats is ridiculous!

moonstarr267 said...

that is really sad! somehow when i am older i'm going to do something to help the extinction of animals. oh. and i have heard of these cats also from Tokyo Mew Mew.

Gian Andrea said...

I was in Okinawa and also Iriomote with my wife (who is Japanese and partly Okinawan) and can tell you people in there do not eat cats (cat meat is not considered edible, unlike in some parts of the West - in my country there are cities where cat used to eaten). Yet one reason those cats are getting extinct is they tend to become roadkill easily. The island is scarcely populated and mostly protected but those cats tend to prefer living close to the edges of woods (and so, near to roads).

Anonymous said...

I was interested to read here that this species is hybridizing with domestic cats. I suspect my cat is partly iriomote. Where I live there are laws against hybrid animals. Mine is very sweet and well-behaved. Would it make any difference in caring for a possible quarter or eighth mixture?

Haruka said...

In Japan we never eat cats...that is considered barbaric and inhumaine. Please check if your sources are correct before posting them on the web.

Anonymous said...

The only hope for this cat its ex-situ conservation methods (captive animals)... if you go to the island in google earth, you will say "Oh, big island with big virgin forest!", but the reality is that the cat needs clearings and coastal marshes... and you will couldn't find any of these habitats

Anonymous said...

Does anybody know if this cat has a small whisker halfway up each side of its nose?

Oh, and my biology lessons reared their ugly collective head. A hybrid can't reproduce by definition, so my cat would be half Iriomote, if at all. He's a shelter cat with some anomalies.

Anonymous said...

Daisy, I fully agree!! I hope they will be ok!

Anonymous said...

I have been studying the Iriomote cat for four years. I can assure you that:
1) All feral cats have been removed from the Island. All domestic cats that remain on the island have to be sprayed.
2) The Iriomote cat is protected by law and therefore its consumption is prohibited. If it is still eaten by some locals (if they can manage to capture it), it is not widespread and very rare (illegal).
3)The Iriomote cat is considered to be a subspecies of the more widspread Leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) confirmed by molecular analyzes.
4) Me and other researchers personally captured a few individuals for radio-tracking surveys and I can confirm that the toes are not slightly webbed.

Although so much information on this webpage is not true, one piece of data that is accurate is that the population size is of about 100 and decreasing. Habitat destruction and road kills are its main threat. People are so ridicuoulsly selfish!

Check out my video footage of the Iriomote cat on youtube!
Iriomote cat sighting
by Yamanekoman

Anonymous said...

this is my all time favourite cat i hate the fact that they are eaten and i would anything to see one KEEP FIGHTING KITTIES DONT LET PEOPLE EAT YOU...i will make sure my kids will know of these cats!

Anonymous said...

I am glad to know that SOMEONE cares about these cats that
not many people know about. Thanks for writing this article.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear about this beautiful cat,but thank you,this information has helped me out so much on my school report.:)

Anne Marijke said...

Yeeh. Leuke site. groetjes van mij! haha! dit is leuk zeg! grapig joh! Ik heb zelf drie katten. Ze zijn lief. doei.

Anonymous said...

i used this info for a school report too.... its so horrible that these cats are being eaten, they look just like my own tortishell....

Anonymous said...

I LOVE THIS KIIIITTYYY!!!

Adrianna said...

Reading about endangered and extinct animals is the reason why I am becoming a vegetarian. I hate hearing stuff like this.

Adrianna said...

Oh I ate peanut butter sandwiches for dinner today while my parents are eating hamburgers. Reading this is helping me not want a hamburger. I just turned a vegetarian today.

fee said...

I never would have know if not for a anime (tokyo mew mew) and me looking up the animals for my friends they are sooooooooooooooo cute i love them now

Anonymous said...

Leave these cats alone we need to protect them!!!>:(

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