Geoffroy's Cat (Leopardus geoffroyi)
The Geoffroy's 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 small spotted Geoffroy's Cat is a generalist species and is common and widespread throughout South America. Primarily active on the ground the cat has also been observed climbing trees and hunting aquatic prey in water bodies.
After Bobcats, this cat was once the second most traded pelt, and is still at risk from illegal poaching for the fur trade. The pet trade also generates commercial demand - for the interbreeding of domestic cats and Geoffroy's Cats to produce 'safari cats'.
As with all the South American cats, clearing of natural forest habitat for farming is a major threat to their survival.
Geoffroy's Cats in the News
The smaller cats are not often in the news so these articles are from the past decade:
2023: Small wildcats pose big challenges, but coexistence is very much possible (mongabay.com) - section on Geoffroy's Cat conservation
2019: Extremely Rare Wildcats Spotted in Patagonia (prnewswire.com) - Geoffroy's Cats spotted in Patagonia, Chile
2013: One becomes two: genes show Brazilian wild cat is two species (theconversation.com) - section on interbreeding between Tigrinas and Geoffroy’s cats
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.
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.
This excerpt covers how small wild cats like the Geoffroy's Cat get their coat color and what causes black coats (see the link above to videos that include footage of melanistic cats).
497 Observations of Geoffroy's Cats on iNaturalist
There are currently 497 sightings of Geoffroy's Cats on iNaturalist from across South America including quite a few of melanistic cats
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.
Where to see Geoffroy's Cats
A great place to read trip reports from people that have travelled to look for wild cats in their natural habitat is MammalWatching.com.
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!