(Other Names: Chat à Tête Plate, Flachkopfkatze, Gato Cabeciancho, Gaung bya Kyaung, Kucing Dampak, Kucing Hutan, Maew Pa Hua Baen)
Prionailurus planiceps (Felis p.)
1. Profile (Picture)
Pictures: Flat-headed Cat #1 (6 Kb JPEG) (Cat Act. Treas.); Flat-headed Cat #2 (6 Kb JPEG) (Small Cat Cons. All.); Flat-headed Cat #3 (38 Kb JPEG) (Animais); Flat-headed Cat #4 (45 Kb JPEG) (IUCN Cat Spec. Gr.)
The flat-headed cat is a small cat weighing up to about 2.2 kg (4.8 lb). Its distinctly elongated and flattened head and its small, rounded ears make it one of the more easily recognizable small cats. Its long fur is thick and soft. The fur is reddish brown on top of the head, dark roan brown on the body, and mottled white on the underbelly. Many of the body hairs are tipped with white or gray. The muzzle and chin are white. Two prominent whitish buff streaks run on either side of the nose between the eyes.
The flat-headed cat inhabits secondary forest/scrub and primary freshwater swamp forest within lowland coastal floodplains. Most collection records for the flat-headed cat are from swampy areas, oxbow lakes and riverine forest. It has also been observed in disturbed primary and secondary forests and in oil palm plantations. The diet of the flat-headed cat is assumed to include fish, crustaceans, frogs and rodents. It may eat birds, especially poultry. The flat-headed cat is thought to be nocturnal and to hunt along riverbanks.
Occurring in Southeast Asia, the flat-headed cat is found in peninsular Thailand and Malaysia and the islands of Borneo and Sumatra (Indonesia). Water pollution, especially by oil, organochlorines and heavy metals associated with agricultural run-off and logging activities, poses a serious threat to the flat-headed cat through contamination of its prey. The clearance of waterways as human settlement expands into forested areas is also a problem.
*** Cat Tidbit #9: The discovery of a cat buried with what could be its owner in a Neolithic grave on Cyprus suggests domestication of cats had begun 9500 years ago - the oldest known evidence of people keeping cats as pets. (Evidence for the same situation with dogs dates back to the Natufian culture of Israel, which dates to 12-11,000 BC.) (BBC Online 2004) (See Cat Tidbit #10.)
*** Short legs, a long head with tiny, low-set ears, and a short tail combine to give the flat-headed cat a most uncatlike appearance. In fact, in some ways it looks more like an otter or a civet. (Sunquist & Sunquist 2002)
*** The flat-headed cat shares with the cheetah the uncommon characteristic of having so-called "non-retractile" claws. Actually, this description is not technically correct, because the claws do retract, but the covering sheaths are so reduced in size that some 2/3 of the claw is left protruding. (Sunquist & Sunquist 2002)
*** The flat-headed cat is more aquatic than the fishing cat (Humphrey & Bain 1990).
[The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature; also called the World Conservation Union) is the world’s largest conservation organization. Its members include countries, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations. The IUCN determines the worldwide status of threatened animals and publishes the status in its Red List.]
Recent genetic analyses have lead to the proposal that all modern cats can be placed into eight lineages which originated between 6.2 - 10.8 million years ago. The flat-headed cat is placed in the "leopard cat lineage," which diverged from its ancestors as a separate lineage 6.2 million years ago. The leopard cat lineage also includes the pallas cat, the rusty-spotted cat, the leopard cat, and the fishing cat. (Johnson et al. 2006)
Water pollution, especially caused by oil, organochlorines and heavy metals associated with agricultural run-off and logging activities, poses a serious threat to the flat-headed cat through contamination of its prey. The clearance of waterways as human settlement expands into forested areas is also a problem. (Nowell & Jackson 1996, IUCN 2005)
Size and Weight:
Animais, BBC Online 2004, Bezuijen 2000, Big Cats Online, Cat Act. Treas., Cons. Intl. 2005, Humphrey & Bain 1990, IUCN 2005, IUCN Cat Spec. Gr., Johnson et al. 2006, Meijaard et al. 2005, Muul & Lim 1970, Nowak 1999, Nowell & Jackson 1996, Small Cat Cons. All., Sunquist & Sunquist 2002
Last modified: March 19, 2006;