By far the major threat to the Iriomote cat at present is agricultural and cattle-raising projects, which are heavily subsidized by the government and involve forest clearance. Competition from a growing population of feral cats, and the risk of disease transmission from these and other imported mammals pose difficulties for the Iriomote cat.
The Iriomote cat is found only on Iriomote island, an island of 293 km2 at the southernmost tip of the Ryuku chain, located about 200 km east of Taiwan. the Iriomote cat typically inhabits the low altitude coastal areas of the island alongside the human population, rather than the protected montane area at the island's center.
The Iriomote cat may qualify as the world's rarest and most vulnerable cat. The population is estimated to number less than 100 individuals, but is thought to have remained stable since monitoring began in 1982.
The IUCN considers Prionailurus bengalensis iriomotensis as "Endangered". CITES lists the species as "Appendix 2".