We use high-speed imaging to observe the dynamics of cavitation, caused by the impact and subsequent rebound of a sphere from a solid surface covered with a thin layer of highly viscous liquid. We note marked qualitative differences between the cavitation structures with increase in viscosity, as well as between Newtonian and non-Newtonian liquids. The patterns observed are quite unexpected and intricate, appearing in concentric ring formations around the site of impact. In all cases, we identify a distinct radius from which the primary bubbles emanate. This radius is modelled with a modified form of Hertz contact theory. Within this radius, we show that some fine cavitation structure may exist or that it may be one large cavitation bubble. For the non-Newtonian fluids, we observe foam-like structures extending radially with diminishing bubble sizes with increase in radial position. Whereas for the Newtonian fluids, the opposite trend is observed with increasing bubble size for increasing radial position. Finally, we compare our experimental observations of cavitation to the maximum tension criterion proposed by Joseph (J Fluid Mech 366:367-378, 1998) showing that this provides the lower limit for the onset of cavitation in our experiments.