Flat-headed cat

Known to wash their food before eating it to remove any unwanted debris

Jim Sanderson

A unique and somewhat elusive member of the feline family, it derives its name from its distinctive physical appearance. Characterized by a long, narrow head paired with a notably flattened forehead, this species presents an unusual silhouette compared to other wild cats. The fur of the flat-headed cat is not only remarkable for its thick, soft texture but also for its striking coloration. The body is covered in dark, roan brown fur, while the top of the head features a reddish-brown hue, creating a beautiful contrast. Moreover, the cat’s underside is adorned with mottled white fur, adding to its distinctive appearance. The rounded ears and paws of the flat-headed cat further accentuate its unique physical traits, setting it apart from its feline counterparts.

Primarily piscivorous, these cats have adapted to a diet that largely consists of fish, showcasing an intriguing aspect of their behavior and ecology. In addition to fish, they are known to consume a variety of other prey, including frogs, crustaceans, rats, and chickens. This dietary diversity reflects their adaptability and the skills they possess to hunt a range of prey. One of the most fascinating hunting techniques of the flat-headed cat involves submerging its head fully in water to catch fish. This method is not commonly observed among felines and highlights the cat’s extraordinary adaptation to its aquatic hunting grounds. Furthermore, the teeth of the flat-headed cat are specially adapted to grip slippery prey, ensuring that once caught, their meal seldom escapes.

Currently, the flat-headed cat faces a critical challenge to its survival. Classified as Endangered, the species is under significant threat, primarily due to the degradation and destruction of its habitat. Lowland and wetland forests, the preferred habitats of the flat-headed cat, are increasingly being lost to deforestation, agricultural expansion, and urban development.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Brunei
2016
Indonesia
2016
Sumatera, Kalimantan
Malaysia
2016
Sarawak, Sabah, Peninsular Malaysia
Thailand
2016
Possibly Extinct

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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