5 Cool Cats in the Wild


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Fishing Cat
The fishing cat is the only cat in the wild that, well, goes fishing and actually enjoys it. Lillian King/Getty Images

It's well known that cats hate water. Consider the fastidious disgust with which your common house cat reacts to rain or puddles. But house cats are descended from a very specific ancestor: the African wildcat (Felis lybica lybica). Head to Southeast Asia and, if you're very lucky, you might spot a remarkable feline that not only loves water, it practically lives in it.

As the name implies, the fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) goes after scaly critters with fins. To do so, it'll even dive and swim underwater to grab its prey. Not limiting itself to fish, these unusual cats will slip under waterfowl and give them a nasty surprise by yanking them down by the legs.

This kind of lifestyle requires some special adaptations. To stay warm in sometimes chilly water, the fishing cat has two layers of fur, one close to its body, and a longer coat for added warmth. Amazingly, the under-layer of fur is completely waterproof. And as one would expect from a quasi-amphibious beast, the fishing cat has webbed paws.

Like many, if not most, wild cats, the fishing cat is listed as vulnerable. The biggest threats, as usual, are human. Relatively little is known about these creatures, as serious study of them only began in 2009.

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