The fishing cat has a long, sinuous body, almost civit-like in appearance, with relatively short legs and a somewhat flattened tail. It forepaws have unusually long phalanges (toes) and claws. Its claws extend considerably from their sheaths even when fully retracted. All four feet are webbed. Its coat is light brown with dark brown irregular spots, fading to white underneath. The backs of its ears are black with a central white spot.
The fishing cat may be found in the marshes and swamps of southern and southeastern Asia. It avoids human settlements, where it hunts by day, in the water and from the ground, and seeks fish, crayfish, mollusks, rodents, reptiles and other small animals. It is the best swimmer of all cats, catching fish by pursuit and using its long claws as fishhooks.