Also known as "Rarest Cat in the World" Day!

The Iriomote Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis iriomotensis) is a subspecies of Leopard Cat that can only be found on the Japanese island of Iriomote. They are small, growing up to 24 inches (60 cm) in body length, with a tail about 9 inches (24 cm) long. They weigh up to 11 pounds (5 Kg). Iriomote Cats have a stocky build, with solid shoulders and a thick neck. They are not as flexible, nor as adept at jumping as other small cats.

Iriomote Cats prefer life on the ground, but they have been known to climb trees and even swim in order to catch their prey, which consists of amphibians, rodents, reptiles, fish, crustaceans, bats and birds. Having no competition with other predators on Iriomote, the Cats have no need to limit themselves to their own ranges to avoid becoming prey themselves. Thus, their diet is quite varied. They are nocturnal, and are most active during the twilight hours.


The Iriomote Cat is extremely rare. It's listed by the IUCN as Critically Endangered. The most recent population estimates are fewer than 250 individuals remaining in the wild, and likely no more than about 100. In Japanese the Iriomote Cat is known asIriomote-yamaneko, which means "Iriomote mountain cat," and the locals have several names for them as well:

Yamamaya: the cat in the mountain.

Yamapikaryaa: that which shines in the mountain.

Meepisukaryaa: that which has flashing eyes.


Female Iriomote Cats will give birth to a litter of one to three kittens after a gestation period of 60 to 70 days. They will have their kittens in some kind of birthing den, like a tree hollow or cavern - any place that is secure, dry, and has good ventilation. Kittens stay with their mother until they are about eleven months of age, after which they will separate from their mother but still remain within their mother's range. They reach full maturity at around twenty months.