The Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis)
is perhaps the most well known of the small cats and this mostly is the
doing of the pelt and exotic pet trade. The ocelot is a terrestrial
nocturnal hunter but an arboreal sleeper. Their prey consists of
birds, rodents, snakes and lizards. The range of this cat is from southern
Texas to Argentina but it used to be more extensive and more densely
populated. The Texas population only harbors a mere 100 individuals and is
still on the decline due to road kill incidents.
The fur trade is also a demanding pressure on this cats livelihood as
every coat takes one dozen adult cat skins. And some females may have cub
bringing the number of casualties up.
|The Oncilla (Leopardus tigrina)
is found from Costa Rica to Argentina. This little 5 pound cat has many
titles like Tigrina or Tiger cat. They live in lowland rainforests, cloud
forests, and some higher elevations of 3,000 feet and are well adapted to
climbing the foliage of their environment. Little is known of this cats
behavior except that it is a solitary cat and is likely to feed on small
mammal, reptiles, and birds. The Oncilla sports a beautiful rosette
patterned coat which has been much the envy of the fur trade along with the
Margay and the Ocelot. This along with deforestation threatens to be
this tiny cat's undoing.
|The Margay (Leopardus wiedii)
is almost just a small Ocelot in appearance. It is found from Mexico to
Argentina in the dense tropical rainforests of these areas. With it long
tail and other arboreal adapted qualities ,such as flexible ankles, this cat
is a superb tree climber and hunter. Being a nocturnal feline, it scans the
night's elevated locations for birds, reptiles, rodents, and insects. Its
lengthy whiskers help it to navigate the darkness with accuracy and its
large eyes are acute at night vision. Margays communicate with varying
vocalizations from purring to meowing and hissing. Also gesturing is a
common communication skill of this agile cat.
The Geoffroy's Cat (Oncifelis geoffroyi)
is found in parts of Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, and
Argentina. This cat is a ground hunter as well a tree hunter but is hard to
track because it only excretes waste in the trees. This cat lives in open
bush, rocky terrain, scrub woodlands and forests in the vicinity of rivers.
It eats rodents, reptiles, birds, and insects and has been said to drop on
them from the trees. This cat is a day sleeper and finds the trees good
refuge for this vulnerable yet necessary action. Poachers have reduced the
Jaguar population as well as other spotted cats of South America and now are
turning to the Geoffroy's Cat as a new resource.
(Oncifelis guigna) may be the smallest cat in
the Americas only rivaled by the Oncilla for this position. Small
areas of Chile and Argentina are its only refuges. It lives in coniferous
forests, woodland areas and semi-open areas. Hardly anything is known
of this cats habits as it is rare and elusive. The Kodkod is
especially vulnerable to habitat destruction because it lives in restricted
areas. Kodkods look a lot like the Geoffroy's Cat yet one big difference is
the Kodkod's stocky tail.
|The Pampas Cat (Oncifelis colocolo)
comes in many different colors from a dark black to the reddish-orange seen
at the right. They are about the size of a domestic cat and can be confused
if not for the pointed ears and in the case of the Brazilian ones, a large
nose. They also have a mane of hair they raise on their backs to show
aggression.They are found in many areas of South America and are live
in a variety of habitats. Little is known of this cat behavior but it is
thought that they are terrestrial hunters stalking rodents and ground
The Andean Mountain Cat
jacobita) is a rare cat found in the high Andes. It was discovered in 1865
but it took till 1980 to have a sure sighting and it is only known from a
few photos and pelts. Like the snow leopard this cat is at home it high
altitudes. This 5 pound cat's gray spotted coat provides warm and
camouflage in the rocky bare terrain
that is found in the high Andes. The cat's ability to hide, the desolate
climate and the its rarity make Andean Mountain Cats hard to find.