Two forest kittens [ Prionailurus bengalensis ] were found by residents in Nagari Saruaso, Tanjung Emas District, Tanah Datar Regency, West Sumatra, on Sunday [9/7/2023]. When he saw him, Rahmi Relva  was preparing to close his cellphone counter, around 21.00 WIB.
“It turned out to be a bobcat, said people around,” he explained when contacted by Mongabay , Thursday [20/7/2023].
Feeling sorry, Rahmi took the two kittens to his house and put them in a cage. After a bit big, just released back. Rahmi admitted that he had difficulty finding the BKSDA Resort Tanah Datar office.
“I was searching , what I found on Instagram was only the West Sumatra BKSDA. Then I went to the Regent’s office and was shown the Batusangkar BKSDA office. I handed over the cat and the BKSDA officers immediately released it at night,” he explained.
Erwin Willianto, a wild cat observer and member of the IUCN SSC Cat Specialist Group, said the forest cat is a protected species, based on Minister of Environment and Forestry Regulation No. P 106 of 2018 concerning Protected Plant and Animal Species.
This species has a fairly wide range of habitats up to the village boundary. During the weaning period, the mother will seek a location away from the male’s territory. The goal is to protect their children and bring them closer to food sources, which are usually community gardens.
“That is why the community often encounters forest cat puppies,” he explained , Sunday [23/7/2023].
At certain times, kittens left by their mothers to look for food, sometimes go out of the nest and meet humans.
“Though, not necessarily that’s what is needed. It’s possible, we just need to observe from a distance to make sure it’s safe until the mother returns.”
According to Erwin, what Rahmi did to immediately seek the authorities was right. The reason is that we as civilians are not allowed to take or keep protected animals.
Regarding release, continued Erwin, the things that need to be considered are the conditions and ability to survive. Moreover, these kittens have not been able to find food or avoid predators.
This Type of Wild Cat Most Often Interacts with Humans
But of all these types, there is one type of wild cat that interacts with or meets humans the most. This type is Prionailurus bengalensis, in English it is called the Leopard Cat or in Indonesian it is often known as the kuwuk cat or jungle cat. By the IUCN, the leopard cat is included as a Low Risk species.
“In general, leopard cats are the same as other wild cats as apex predators [top predators],” Erwin Willianto, a feral cat observer and member of the IUCN SSC Cat Specialist Group, told Mongabay Indonesia , early July 2023.
It’s just that according to him, leopard cats prefer habitat at the forest boundary so that you could say the leopard cat is the one with the most interaction with humans.
In fact, if we monitor on social media, many people rescue kittens from fields or forest edges. However, this method of rescue is actually a cause for concern because it is a misunderstanding and is instead used as a justification for taking wild cat puppies who are being left by their mothers to look for food.
While one of the speakers for the webinar “Current Status of Medium and Small Wild Cats in Indonesia” on July 13 2023, Erwin also explained that leopard cats can be found in several types of forests. For example, production forests, conservation forests, and even oil palm plantations. However, the challenge and also the problem is that there is no data on wild cat populations for conservation.
“A sad fact, when we don’t know the conditions in the forest, if you open Facebook and type Indonesian forest cat, there are lots of leopard cats being kept as pets. Their jargon is “Save and Adopt”. This can happen because there is no protection in the forest,” said Erwin.
Agus Subagyo, an ecologist from the University of Jambi, who was also a speaker at the webinar, explained that wild cats in Indonesia face threats due to hunting and forest encroachment. The leopard cat still hasn’t received serious attention, even though in the field there are actually many threats.
In his presentation, he explained that there are at least scientific publications regarding population dynamics, distribution, threats, genetics, or ecological aspects that are needed in an effort to develop a strategy for small and medium sized feral cat conservation.
Agus gave an example, in Way Kambas, the Sumatran tiger is the most widely known by the public. Meanwhile, other types of wild cats are very rarely known.
The story of a Javanese cat that isn’t from Java
His name is Javanese cat. However, its origins confuse many. Another country, another name.
In the book ” Cat breeds of the world: a complete illustrated encyclopedia “, it is explained that the Javanese cat is another version of the long-haired Siamese cat.
It is called a Javanese cat if the color pattern is outside that. Some American cat associations don’t even differentiate them and include them as Balinese cats.
In New Zealand, the long-haired Siamese cat is called the Balinese cat if it has any color pattern. It is called a Javanese cat if it has spots or a solid color without any other color variations.
In England, the Javanese cat is an oriental long-haired cat, which was originally crossed to reproduce the Angora cat. The Angora cat is famous for its long fur.
Javanese cat has a character like a Siamese cat. Attractive, agile, and happy to play. He loves to rub his head on his feet and communicate with his master.
In the world of cat breeders , place names attached to cat types do not only indicate that the cat comes from that place. Place names are sometimes chosen by breeders for subjective reasons only. For example, the Balinese cat , explained more because the breeder was fascinated by the movements of the Balinese dance and then pinned the name on the cat he bred.
In one of his articles, The Cat Fancier’s Association explains that the Javanese cat is the result of a cross between a short-haired colorpoint Siamese cat and a Balinese cat. This association accepts registration of crossbreed cats from breeders and has been around since 1906.
Barbara Harr, one of the breeders , wrote that in 1978 several breeders had produced a new type of cat with a different color pattern than the Balinese cat. The association suggested using a name other than Bali.
“We are looking for another name for them. Regarding the suggestions given, we collect and discuss several possibilities. We discussed while carrying maps and books about Asia… We found Java Island which is close to Bali. Jawa was one of the proposed names, and our research confirmed it was a good fit. And that’s how the hybridized name came from.”
After passing the provisional [temporary] status, in 1986 the new breed of cat resulting from this cross received championship status , which means it has been recognized and can enter cat contests. Since then, the Javanese cat has won contests dozens of times which further confirms the existence of this new type of cat among other cat breeds.
In the journal Scientific American , 2009, described a study conducted in 2000, collecting nearly a thousand genetic code of wild and domestic cats. They took cat DNA from Asia, Europe and Africa.
From the DNA collected, it is known that all the domesticated cats that spread came from F silvestris lybica , a wild cat from the Middle East. In other references it is also called the African wild cat.
In Cyprus, four years later archaeologists discovered an adult human skeleton buried with other items. Not far from him is the skeleton of an 8 month old cat. The age of the skeleton is about 9500 years. These two pieces of evidence renew the understanding of the time and origins of cats experiencing domestication.
Regarding when domesticated cats entered Indonesia, it is not known for certain. However, Erwin Wilianto, a wild cat observer and member of the IUCN SSC Cat Specialist Group, explained that it is likely that domestic cats entered various areas via trading ships in the past.”Two days at home, I feed fresh fish and also canned food.” The plan, this cat will be maintained.
Cat keepers can at least be divided into two groups. First , those who really pay attention to the cat’s pedigree . Second , those who only maintain regardless of the origin of the breeders. This lack of control then led to interracial interbreeding.
As time goes by, the domestic cat population is growing and unsupervised. Many of them have become feral [street] cats and stray cats . In addition, cats also pose a threat to prey animal populations, potentially becoming intermediaries for the spread of disease.
While researching the fishing cat [ Prionailurus viverrinus ] on Sancang beach in 2016, Erwin found evidence through camera traps that domestic cats were there. It is estimated, these cats began to appear since there were fishermen’s huts. Erwin assessed that domestic cats are very invasive, so they have the potential to quickly and significantly cause problems that are not visible in a short time.
He took the example in Australia, cats have preyed on a number of local species and caused their extinction. In a 2019 report, it was stated that 27 species were preyed upon by cats and pushed towards the brink of extinction.
Meanwhile in America, a study in 2013 explained that domestic cats had killed up to 6.2 million birds and mammals up to 22.3 million individuals. In 2020, a photo showing 232 animals that fell prey to cats won a photography award there.