The 8 Cats of the Leopardus Lineage
The Leopardus lineage consists of eight small spotted cats in the Leopardus genus, which are distributed throughout Central and South America, also known as the Ocelot group.
These cats have 36 chromosomes instead of 38 as per all the other Felidae species.
The Felidae ancestors of the Ocelot or Leopardus lineage originated 8 MYA (million years ago) and initially evolved into two species in North America. Later during the second ice age of 2-3 MYA cats migrated over the Panama land bridge to South America, and the Ocelot group diversified further to the eight species of today.
Species taxonomy updates since 2017
- 2017 - Eastern Oncilla / Tigrina (Leopardus emiliae) split from the Northern Tiger Cat (Leopardis tigrinus).
- 2021 - Pampas Cat (Leopardus colocola) split into 5 species (L. braccatus, L. colocola, L. garleppi, L. munoai and L. pajeros).
- 2022 - Uruguayan Pampas Cat L. munoai nomenclature corrected to L.fasciatus.
Note: The website charts and pages are based on the 2017 IUCN CatSG Felidae taxonomy.
Leopardus Lineage Cats - Classification
In scientific classification (taxonomy) the small wild cats of the Leopardus lineage belong to the cat family Felidae and the small cat subfamily Felinae.
The higher and lower classifications of this group are as follows:
Kingdom: Animalia (animals)
Phylum: Chordata (vertebrates)
Class: Mammalia (mammals)
Order: Carnivora (carnivores)
Suborder: Feliformia (cat-like)
Family: Felidae (cats)
Subfamily: Felinae (small cats)
Species: Leopardus pardalis (Ocelot)
Species: Leopardus geoffroyi (Geoffroy’s Cat)
Species: Leopardus jacobita (Andean Cat)
Species: Leopardus wiedii (Margay)
Species: Leopardus colocola (Pampas Cat)
Species: Leopardus guigna (Guiña or Kodkod)
Note: 'Lineage' is not a taxonomic unit, it is a means to categorize closely related species into evolutionary groups.
The eight cats of the Leopardus genus are Ocelot, Geoffroy's Cat, Andean Cat, Margay, Pampas Cat, Northern & Southern Tiger Cats and Guiña.
Leopardus Lineage Cat Quiz
Click through on the information links under each cat image above to find the answers to this quiz. Good luck!
1. Which is by far the largest cat in the group, with the next in size only half its weight?
2. Which of these cats is called the small cat version of the snow leopard?
3. Which cat is the most endangered?
4. Which of these cats live in trees and can hold on to branches with its hind feet?
5. Which cat has three types of pelage (fur) pattern?
6. Which is the smallest of the cats?