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Geoffroy's Cat - Oncifelis geoffroyi

By: C.M.Shorter

Geoffroy's Cat is small sized South American Wild Cat. This rugged little powerhouse has beautiful, well-defined markings and is similar in size to a domestic house cat. The Geoffroy's Cat, found at sea level up to 3,500 metres in territory throughout South America, prefers habitat in pampas grassland, forests, and rocky terrain areas of the woodlands in the countries of Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.

Geoffroy's Cat
Although considered the most abundant of the small Wild Cats in this range, and they are sometimes confused with the Kodkod with territory bounds crossing, especially at the foothills of the Patagonian Andes. The Geoffroy's cat also shares habitat with the Pampas Cat. The are known to be terrestrial and nocturnal, great swimmers and agile little climbers. Locals sometimes call them "Fishing Cats" although the actual named species "Fishing Cat" resides in Southeast Asia.
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Geoffroy's Cat
Geoffroy's Cat

Coats are brilliant with beautiful symmetrical markings of black dots equal in size and position along the body. These spots join to form a natural necklace on the chest. This nocturnal hunter's face is streaked with two black stripes on each cheek with whitish undersides. The Geoffroy's Cat's eyes are mesmerizing and vary from deep golden tones to grey-green. The tail is about one-half the body length marked with rings and, like so many of our Wild Cats, ends in a "black-tip". Larger sized animals are found at the southernmost portion of the range and their coats tend to be longer and paler in color. Lighter shade coats and less distinct spots for these cats in northern Argentina, which the locals commonly called "Salt Desert Cats" once led people to be believe this animal was a separate species. Melanistic variety is known to exist and are often found in the cover of heavily forested areas of their range.

The Geoffroy's Cat makes its meals preying on small mammals, bird, lizards, rodents - mice, rats & guinea pigs and also eat fish, frogs and insects. Males protect and defend their territory and do not overlap boundaries unlike the female of the species whose territories cross bounds. This species has adapted well to deforestation, actually seeking out newly disturbed areas which result in less competition for prey. It is unfortunate that recent decades of high volume skin trading and consumption by humans has significantly reduced their population. Captivity status is dismal with less than 20 captive cats contributing to their gene pool. Cross breeding with domestic cats by Domestic Cat Breeders in their efforts to capitalize on the small spotted cats - in this case - to present a "Safari Cat" for sale on the market, has weakened the pure lineage and removes many from qualifying for any conservation program. Geoffroy's Cats have been fully protected across their range since 1992 when they were placed on CITES Appendix I.

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Scientific Name: Oncifelis geoffroyi
Common Name(s): Geoffroy's Cat
Range: South America - Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay
Average Weight: 3 - 8 kg (7 - 17 lbs)
Length: 70 - 110 cm (28 - 44")
Diet: Carnivorous. Small mammals, bird, lizards, rodents - mice, rats & guinea pigs, fish, frogs and insects
Gestation Period: 72 - 78 Days
Cub Maturity: 6 - 8 Months
Cubs Per Litter: 1 - 4 Kittens. (2-3 Kittens average per litter)
Lifespan: 12 - 18 years.
Predators: Man. Larger Carnivores occupying same territory, snakes and young to birds of prey.
Social Structure: Solitary.
Territory Size: 5 - 9.5 km (3 - 5.5 miles)
Conservation Status: Placed on CITES Appendix I in 1992.

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