The Rusty-spotted Cat is named after its specific markings. The base fur is usually grey in colour and is covered by small rust red coloured spots which form into solid stripes along the back and on the top of the head – the underparts of the body, the chest bib and the chin are white. It is one of the smallest of the wild cat species, measuring up to about 18 inches in the body with a tail of no more than half its body length. It is native only to Central and Southern India and to Sri Lanka. The two sub-species found on Sri Lanka P.r.phillipsi and P.r.koladivinus are in general more brightly coloured than P.r.rubiginosus, which is only found on the Indian mainland. The habitat of the Sri Lankan rusty-spotted cats seem to differ from that of the Indian species, which found mainly in dry grassland, scrubland and open foreset – in Sri Lanka the cat is also to be found in dense tropical upland forests as well as terrain similar to its Indian relative.
Little is known of the lifestyle of this small cat, although its has been observed to be mainly nocturnal, arboreal to a degree and in keeping with the cats size hunt mainly small rodents, insects and amphibians. The main threat to the rusty-spotted cat is that of habitat loss although trade in furs is present in parts of its range. The Indian subspecies are listed in CITES Appendix 1 and the Sri Lankan sub-species in CITES Appendix 2.