The Bay Cat (Catopuma badia), also known as Bornean Cat, Bornean Red Cat, Bornean Marbled Cat, Borneo-katze, Chat Bai, Gato Rojo de Borneo, Kucing Kalimantan, Kucing Merahor or Bornean Bay Cat, is a small feline endemic to the island of Borneo. The Bay Cat and the Asian Golden Cat (Catopuma temminckii) are the only members of the genus Catopuma.
Nearly everything that is known about this cat is based on just twelve specimens, the first of which was collected by Alfred Russel Wallace in 1855 in Sarawak. A total of seven further skins surfaced over the following decades, but it was not until 1992 that a living specimen was obtained, and there were no photographs of the animal until a second living specimen was captured in 1998.
The Bay Cat's fur is usually reddish brown, although there is also a grey colour variant, and the underparts are usually paler than the rest of the body. The ears are short and rounded, set well down on the sides of the head. The body is faintly speckled with black markings, and spots on the lighter golden brown underside and limbs. The short, rounded head is dark greyish brown with two dark stripes originating from the corner of each eye, and the back of the head has a dark ‘M’ shaped marking. The backs of the ears are dark greyish, lacking the central white spots found on many other cat species. The underside of the chin is white and there are two faint brown stripes on the cheeks. Their long, tapering tail has a yellowish streak down its length on the underside, becoming pure white at the tip, which is marked with a small black spot. Body proportions and the extremely long tail give it the look of the new world jaguarundi.
For a time, it was unknown whether the Bay Cat was a unique species or merely a smaller island form of the Asian Golden Cat. Blood samples taken from the 1992 specimen, genetic testing have confirmed that they are indeed a unique species, and therefore a highly endangered one. No subspecies have been described. The Bay Cat has a head-body length of 53 to 67 centimetres (21 to 26 in), plus a 32 to 39 centimetres (13 to 15 in) tail. It is estimated to have an adult weight of 3 to 4 kilograms (6.6 to 8.8 lb), but too few living specimens have been obtained to allow a more reliable estimate.
Recent analyses indicate that the Bay Cat diverged from a common ancestor with the Asian Golden Cat an estimated 4.9-5.3 million years ago, well before the geological separation of Borneo from other islands on the Sunda Shelf some 10,000-15,000 years ago.
This wild cat hunts at night for birds, rodents, insects, reptiles, and monkeys. In addition to hunting, the Bay Cat is also is a nocturnal scavenger, and will often eat carrion when available.
As its English name suggests, the Bornean Red Cat is confined to the island of Borneo. Found in the dense tropical forests up to an altitude of 900 metres (3,000 ft), one unconfirmed sighting being at 1,800 metres (5,900 ft); it has been observed in rocky limestone outcrops and recently in logged dipterocarp forest, and some close to the coast. At least three specimens were found near rivers, but this is probably due to collector convenience rather than evidence of habitat preference. The latest individual to be caught was on the Sarawak, Indonesian border but other records are widely distributed in the northern half of the island. It has been found in Kalimantan (Borneo), Sabah and Sarawak.
Due to significant habitat loss in Borneo, the Bay Cat has been only recently reclassified as endangered by the IUCN in 2005, after being classified "data deficient" only ten years before. Now that the cat is fully protected over most of its range, CITES has recently placed the Bornean Bay Cat on Appendix II, due to lack of data. There are only fifty known to be left in the world. Although on paper Borneo has 25 wildlife reserves, only three are actually in existence, with the others only proposed. All of these reserves have been encroached upon by human settlement and logging. Unfortunately local trappers and animal dealers are also well aware that foreign zoos and breeding facilities will pay US $10,000 or more for a live animal. There are no Bay Cats officially in captivity.