Andean Mountan Cat

Oreailurus jacobita

Body Length(mm) -600-700

Weight (kg) - 3-7

Litter Size - no data

Life Span - no data

Status - Vulnerable


Also known as the Andean Highland Cat or Mountain Cat, little is known of this small felid. The mountain cat is to be found in the high regions of Bolivia, Peru and Chile, ranging from the dry scrublands lower down the mountains up to beyond the tree line at around 16,000 feet. In common with other cats that hunt at high altitude the fur of the mountain cat is longer than most - the base colour of the fur varies from grey/brown to a darker reddish/grey and is covered large dark red irregular spots, the tail is long and banded with similar dark reddish/brown markings. The mountain cat is slightly larger than a big domestic cat, growing up to 24 inches in length with a tail of some 70% of its body length. In common with other species of wild cat that exhibit extra long tails, it is thought that the tail acts as a counterbalance giving the mountain cat additional balance when moving quickly over rocky terrain.

Due to the remoteness of its habitat little is know about the hunting and social habits of the mountain cat. Through limited observations it appears that the main source of prey may be the mountain chinchilla and its close relative the viscacha, which share a similar habitat to that of the mountain cat - however it is probably fair to assume that additional prey will include other small rodents, insects and birds native to its range. Due primarily to its rarity rather than by pressures bought about by hunting, the mountain cat is listed as an endangered species. The mountain cat in listed in CITES Appendix 1 and although there are no firm figures regarding numbers in the wild it is believed to be threatened.

1997 Andrew Garman