The fishing cat has a deep-chested body and comparatively short legs. The front toes are partially webbed and the claws protrude slightly even when retracted because the claw sheaths are not fully developed. Only two other cats cannot fully retract their claws -- the cheetah and the flat-headed cat. Small rounded ears are set well back on the large, broad head. The short, coarse fur is grizzled gray or olive-brown and covered with small black spots. The markings sometimes run in longitudinal lines or rows. Large males may weigh 24 to 27 pounds while females are 13 to 15.5 pounds. Head and body length is 25.5 to 34 inches. The thick, muscular tail is less than 1/3 this length.
Fishing cats have been seen crouching on rocks and sandbanks, using their paw to scoop out fish. They've also been observed to seize fish with their mouths.