Rusty-spotted cats have short, brownish gray coats with a rusty tinge, but the Sri Lankan supspecies is less gray and more of a russet color.
The fur of rusty-spotted cats is short and soft with a brownish fawn-gray color tinged with a rusty rufous tint. The coat of the Sri Lankan subspecies (Prionailurus rubiginosus phillipsi) is less gray and has more of a russet color.
The underside, belly, chest, and throat of the rusty-spotted cat are white with darker spots and stripes while the back and sides are covered by rusty red-brown spots and blotches which merge into lines. There are four dark stripes running from above the eyes, between the ears, backward over the head to the neck, and onto the shoulders. There are horizontal bars on the legs and chest. The cheeks of the face are marked by two streaks of darker fur and their relatively large eyes are marked with a white streak along the inside edge. The soles of the feet are black while the tail is more rufous than the body and faintly marked with dark rings.