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Adorably Tiny Rusty Spotted Cats Are The World's Smallest Felines

Ryan Ford 25 Nov 2019

Just when you think the internet has reached absolute saturation with cute animal content, another kitten or puppy video drops and we're all drawn right back in again. And honestly, what's so bad about that? Yes, the internet is the most powerful tool for communication ever devised, but does that mean we shouldn't use it to share adorable things that make us smile? Spreading joy is what life's all about.

As a bonus, in this case, we not only get our cuteness fix, but we also get to learn a little something.

Meet the world's smallest feline, the rusty spotted cat.

Wikimedia Commons

Although they look like kittens, they're actually all grown up. When they're fully grown, they're still small enough to fit into the palm of your hand, topping out at a whopping 3.5 lbs.

For comparison, the world record for smallest adult tabby cat weighed about 3 pounds, but house cats average about 10 pounds, although this can vary quite wildly from breed to breed.

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But the rusty spotted cat is not your typical house cat anyway.

Wikimedia Commons

They don't tend to be domesticated, living in the wilds of India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. There a few cases in which the tiny kitties were domesticated, however, and they sound like real characters.

T.C. Jordan, a 19th century naturalist, apparently adopted one, and he said it had an ambitious hunting instinct, going after squirrels in his home's rafters. He also related that he introduced his rusty spotted cat to a gazelle, at which point that cat latched onto the gazelle's neck and had to be forcibly pulled off.

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Not domesticating these little ones is probably for the best, as much as we all might be drawn in by their undeniable cuteness.

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I mean, look at those magnificent eyes! They're probably both literally and figuratively bigger than its stomach. As some folks online pointed out, maybe rusty spotted cats should have stayed in the shadows.

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Because rusty spotted cats are so small and nocturnal, they're difficult to, er, spot.

Wikimedia | https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rusty_spotted_cat.jpg

Which means that it's unclear exactly how many live in the wild. They're thought to be rare, however, and the IUCN Red List calls them "vulnerable," with about 10,000 mature individuals in the wild.

They're mostly threatened by habitat loss and the fur trade, and their interactions with humans have gotten them into trouble in the past as they have been known to go after people's chickens.

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So, as much as we might want to bring one home and spoil it rotten, we should really just let rusty spotted cats be.

Learn more about the rusty spotted cat from this short BBC feature!

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