In India, the Rusty-spotted Cat mainly occurs in tropical dry forests and dry grasslands, but in Sri Lanka rainforests are the preferred habitat. The reason for this difference may be the competition with the Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), which occupies the rainforests of the mainland, but does not live in Sri Lanka.
This cat is nocturnal and partly arboreal, and feeds on rodents, birds and lizards. It is hunted for food and pelts in some areas by local human populations
The Rusty-spotted Cat faces a high risk of extinction in the wild and is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. More specifically, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) lists the Indian population in Appendix I (threatened with extinction where trade in the specimens is only allowed in exceptional circumstances) and the other populations in Appendix II (not necessarily threatened with extinction, but where trade in the furs is strictly controlled).
There are two subspecies:
- Prionailurus rubiginosus rubiginosus (India)
- Prionailurus rubiginosus phillipsi (Sri Lanka)