This Caturday is later than usual, but lateness doesn't count when it's a holiday weekend (sorry, non-U.S. people). This week we're learning about the Bay Cat (Pardofelis badia), which is also known as the Bornean Bay Cat or Bornean Marbled Cat. You'll notice by the kinds of pictures included in post that this cat is particularly rare compared to cats that are more regularly encountered in the same area, which is the island of Borneo. The reason I say this is that I try to avoid providing pictures of these animals in captivity - but in this case, beggars can't be choosers.

The Bay Cat is smaller than the Asian Golden Cat and has a much more chestnut-red coat, though it looks fairly similar. Based on a relatively small sample size, the Bay Cat is estimated to grow up to 26 inches in body length (67 cm) with a 15-inch tail (40 cm). It will probably weigh up to almost 9 pounds (4 Kg), but this estimate may not be entirely reliable due to the sparse data available.

Bay Cats are endemic to Borneo but populations seem to be concentrated in two main areas, based on the amount of reported sightings. They are well-adapted to live in different types of island habitats, from swamp forests, lowland forests, to hill forests at much higher elevations. This cat is so rare that only 12 individuals were captured and measured between the years 1874 to 2004. A camera trap study conducted in 2003 to 2006 yielded only one photograph of a Bay Cat out of 5,034 trap nights.

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The Bay Cat is secretive and nocturnal. Nothing is known about its mating habits or reproductive cycle. Very little is known about its hunting habits and diet, although it is likely that the cat feeds on small prey items like rodents, birds, lizards and amphibians.

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As of 2007 it was estimated that the Bay Cat population consisted of no more than 2,500 individuals, and it based on the rate of Bornean deforestation it is expected to decline by 20% by 2020. The IUCN has listed it as Endangered for this reason, and more study is needed to determine exactly what can be done to preserve this species.

While there are 25 proposed wildlife reserves in Borneo, only three of them are officially in existence and all of them have been encroached upon by human development, the logging industry and the illegal animal trade, which is rampant in Borneo.