Andean Cat – Cat 3 of 8 in the Leopardus family of cats

Andean Cat – Cat 3 of 8 in the Leopardus family of cats

with No Comments

Andean Cat (Leopardus jacobita)

The Andean Cat, or Andean Mountain Cat, is one of the eight wild cats in the Leopardus family of cats, also known as the Ocelot family of cats. (Update: there are now thirteen Leopardus cats according to taxonomy changes since the last official Felidae classification in 2017.) The small spotted cats of the Leopardus family are distributed throughout Central and South America.

The beautiful silvery grey Andean Cat is very rare and occurs at low densities in its mountainous habitat of the Andes, South America.  Research on this cat is difficult in the extreme conditions of its high-altitude habitat and very little is known about its biology and ecology.

The fragile Andes mountain region with its specialist wildlife is being affected by global climate change. This is in addition to the usual threats of habitat degradation and loss due to human activities and expansion.

Andean Cat (Leopardus jacobita)

Andean Cats in the News

The smaller cats are not often in the news so these articles are from the past decade:

2023: Small cats face big threats: Reasons to save these elusive endangered species (

2021: Most endangered cat in Americas found living on outskirts of Chilean capital | Conservation | The Guardian

2015: Gotcha! Elusive and rare Andean mountain cats snapped in new location | Endangered | Earth Touch News 

Unfortunately, some of these news sites are riddled with ads, but the articles are nevertheless interesting!

If you know of any other news articles on this cat, please send them to me, thank you.

Cats of the Wild Podcast

Wild Missions have recorded two episodes about the Andean Cat:

Episode 1: Wild Missions | Jacobo, the Andean Cat

"The Andean Cat is one of the world's most elusive wild cats. So when one stumbled onto a football field in a small Bolivian town - researchers were stunned! Where did he come from? Is he healthy? Can he be released back into the wild?"

Episode 18: Wild Missions | Cat Craft

"CATCrafts is a program from the Andean Cat Alliance that connects local communities not only with the conservation of the Andean Cat - but also with their past, culture and traditions."

Small Wild Cats Audio - Coat Color

Listen to a short audio taken from a chapter in the book Small Wild Cats by well-known small cat conservationist Jim (James) Sanderson. Jim was instrumental in setting up the Andean Cat Alliance after he managed to find this elusive cat whilst camping out in the Andes mountains.

This excerpt covers how small wild cats like the Andean Cat get their coat color and what causes black coats.


Small Wild Cats - Sanderson and Watson

12 Observations of Andean Cats on iNaturalist

There are currently only 12 sightings of Andean Cats on iNaturalist, mostly from Chile.

iNaturalist is a global platform for the public to upload images of wild creatures they have seen in nature. If you have any photos of natural biodiversity from your travels, be sure to open an account and upload your images. Identification is verified by other members and the data can be used in future research. A great way to contribute to conservation and research!

Note there are images of dead animals in case you are a sensitive viewer.

Andean Cat - Chile
iNaturalist Observation · Andean Cat with Visacha - Chile · © Ben · CC-BY-NC

Where to see Andean Cats

A great place to read trip reports from people that have travelled to look for wild cats in their natural habitat is

Here is a list of recent trip reports to look for Andean Cats and here is a list of ethical tour operators that offer wildlife trips in South America.

If you know of anyone that may be interested in studying wild cats, please share this post with them.

There is a dire need for research on the lesser known smaller cats.

I would love to encourage as many budding zoologists as possible to specialize in these wonderful animals!

Many thanks!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.