Bay cat

Ready to go on a wild cat chase? Keep your eyes peeled for the forest ninja of Borneo!

Jim Sanderson

Bay cat


Ready to go on a wild cat chase? Keep your eyes peeled for the forest ninja of Borneo!

Population <2,500
>30% decline in the past 12 years

The bay cat, or Bornean bay cat, is one of the world’s most elusive and enigmatic feline species, native to the dense, verdant rainforests of Borneo. This rare and mysterious cat captivates the imagination of cat enthusiasts and wildlife researchers alike, with its striking appearance and secretive nature making it a highly sought-after subject for study. The challenge of observing the bay cat in its natural habitat has resulted in a reliance on camera traps, which have provided invaluable glimpses into the existence of this cryptic animal.

Sporting reddish-brown fur that glows with a vibrant hue in the sunlight, the bay cat embodies the wild beauty of Borneo’s forests. Its big, round eyes, which are a defining feature, give it an almost otherworldly appearance, reminiscent of a cross between a domestic cat and a tiny leopard.

As predators, bay cats are adept hunters, specializing in capturing small mammals such as rodents, as well as birds and even bats. This diet highlights their role within the ecosystem as controllers of small vertebrate populations, contributing to the balance of their rainforest environment. The scarcity of sightings and the limited data available on the bay cat has led to its classification as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), signaling the urgent need for conservation efforts to protect this remarkable species.

The threats facing the bay cat are manifold and include habitat destruction due to logging, palm oil plantations, and human settlement expansion. These activities not only diminish the cat’s natural habitat but also fragment the remaining forests, isolating populations and limiting their ability to roam and find food. Additionally, the bay cat suffers from the threat of poaching, despite legal protections, due to its fur and the illegal pet trade.


Population est.
Presence Uncertain
Sarawak, Sabah

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No