Tiger Cat

Leopardus tigrinus

Body Length(mm) -400-550

Weight (kg) - 2-3 (male)

Litter Size - 1-3 average

Life Span - 11-15 years

Status - Near Threatened

L.t.guttula - Central Brazil

L.t.oncilla - Costa Rica

L.t.pardinoides - Northern Andes

L.t.tigrinus - N.E.Brazil, Guyanas

The Tiger Cat, also known as the Little Spotted Cat, Tiger Ocelot or Oncila, is grouped along with the Ocelot and Margay into the genus Leopardus. Of these three species of wild cat the tiger cat is by far the smallest, weighing only around 7 pounds and having a body size similar to that of a domestic cat. The general marking of the tiger cat are similar to those of the Margay, having tawny/buff fur covered with dark brown or black elongated spots - the under parts of the cat are lighter in colour and are less densely marked. Melanistic tiger cats are sometimes found in the dense equitorial forests of Southern Brazil.

Little is known about the life style of this small cat who lives in the dense rain forests from Costa Rica through to Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador. Although an excellent climber and jumper the tiger cat is not as adept at tree top living as the near arboreal Margay and although birds feature highly in its list of prey the tiger cat is more likely to feed on land based rodents, reptiles and insects.

In common with other wild cats living in the rain forests of Latin America, the tiger cat is becoming threatened by deforestation and this along with pressures bought to bare by its continued hunting by local fur traders has led to the tiger cat being listed as an endangered species.

1997 Andrew Garman