All cats are undeniably cute if you ask me. But when it comes to our domesticated felines’ big cat cousins, the smaller big cats are just oh-so-adorable. Clearly we would never think to keep one in our care as they are, in fact, wild animals. But they are fun to admire and aww over in photographs.
At Porfell Wildlife Park and Sanctuary in Cornwall, England, a rusty-spotted cat in their care recently gave birth to two absolutely adorable kittens. And when I say, “world’s smallest big cat” I truly mean it, as these cats are only approximately three pounds at maturity. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that these tiny big cats aren’t ferocious predators!
The rusty-spotted cat is the smallest and rarest of all the big cats in the animal kingdom. These gorgeous little big cats are native to India and Sri Lanka, and are rare indeed. According to Felidae Conservation Fund, it’s thought that there are approximately 10,000 of these cats today in the wild. Sadly, the main threat to these lovely cats is the deconstruction of their natural habitat due to the needs of the ever-growing populations of both India and Sri Lanka.
Their population is currently vulnerable, so I’m thankful that the good people at Porfell are hoping to increase these numbers. (Although they are not advocates of breeding animals in captivity, more on that below.) In an effort to preserve and protect this endangered big cat species, the Rusty Spotted Cat Conservation Breeding Programme was created. The birth of these two kittens is helping to increase the numbers of rusty-spotted cats, and both mum and kittens are doing wonderfully.
According to Mirror.UK, a spokeswoman for the programme said: “Last summer we had the opportunity to take on a pair of Rusty-spotted cats, had an enclosure spare and were excited to have something so rare. To our understanding we are estimating that there are only around 50 of this species being kept in captivity across the world.”
In a Facebook post they shared on their page on April 30th, the sanctuary said that:
As most of you know, we are a sanctuary for unwanted/surplus animals and do not actively take part in breeding. However we had an enclosure spare last summer and were given the opportunity to take on a pair of Rusty spotted cats. To our knowledge they are 2 of only around 40 in captivity across the world, so we were excited about the opportunity. We’ve been waiting for the right moment to reveal that they have had 2 cubs! They are now coming up for 8 weeks and starting to explore their surroundings with mum.
She has done a fabulous job at raising them and continues to be very protective of them so we are unsure of their gender. We are over the moon with the new babies as the majority of our animals are old and here for retirement. As we are well into the 6th week of lockdown we wanted to share some positive news with you all! Thank you for your ongoing support, we hope you can all visit us and the cubs soon.
I’d like to thank the the fine folks at Porfell Wildlife Park and Sanctuary for allowing me to share the images of their newest additions with cat lovers worldwide. Want to learn more about the incredible work they’ve been doing for animals in need for over thirty years? Visit their website here to learn more about who they are and what they do for our animal friends.
If you’d like to help support their efforts during this time, you can click here to make a direct donation to the animals’ care.
All Images Courtesy of Porfell Wildlife Park and Sanctuary