Ocelot
Southern Tiger Cat
Pampas Cat
Northern Tiger Cat
Margay
Guina or Kodkod
Geoffroy's Cat
Andean Cat

  • Ocelot
  • Southern Tiger Cat
  • Pampas Cat
  • Northern Tiger Cat
  • Margay
  • Guina or Kodkod
  • Geoffroy's Cat
  • Andean Cat

The 13 Cats of the Leopardus Lineage

The Leopardus lineage consists of thirteen small spotted cats in the Leopardus genus, which are distributed throughout Central and South America, also known as the Ocelot lineage or 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 into the numerous species of today.

 

Apr 2024: Taxonomic updates of Leopardus in progress.

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)

Genus: Leopardus

Species: Leopardus pardalis (Ocelot)

Species: Leopardus wiedii (Margay)

Species: Leopardus braccatus (Brazilian Pampas Cat)

Species: Leopardus colocola (Central Chilean Pampas Cat)

Species: Leopardus fasciatus (Uruguayan Pampas Cat)

Species: Leopardus garleppi (Northern Pampas Cat)

Species: Leopardus pajeros (Southern Pampas Cat)

Species: Leopardus jacobita (Andean Cat)

Species: Leopardus tigrinus (Northern Tiger Cat)

Species: Leopardus emiliae (Eastern Tiger Cat)

Species: Leopardus guttulus (Southern Tiger Cat)

Species: Leopardus guigna (Guiña or Kodkod)

Species: Leopardus geoffroyi (Geoffroy’s Cat)

 

Note: 'Lineage' is not a taxonomic unit, it is a means to categorize closely related species into evolutionary groups. The species are listed in evolutionary order / groups as per o'Brien et al. 2007.

Classification Chart

This classification chart shows where the cats of the Leopardus genus fit into the Felidae family.

Leopardus Lineage / Genus Chart
Click chart to download.
Permission to use for personal or educational use.
Credit: www.WildCatFamily.com.

Leopardus Genus

The thirteen cats of the Leopardus genus are Ocelot, Margay, Pampas Cats (x5), Andean Cat, Tiger Cats (x3), Guiña and Geoffroy's Cat (as at end 2023).

1. Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis)

Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) - Leopardus Lineage

  Ocelot Classification, Conservation and Facts

3-7. Pampas Cat Complex (5 species)

Pampas Cat (Leopardus colocola) - Leopardus Lineage Pampas Cat Classification, Conservation and Facts

Update 2017: As per the revised Felidae taxonomy - the correct spelling of the Latin name is Leopardus colocola (previously colocolo).
Update 2020: Pampas Cat split into 5 species (previously subspecies).

8. Andean Cat (Leopardus jacobita)

Andean Cat (Leopardus jacobita) - Leopardus Lineage

Andean Cat Classification, Conservation and Facts

9. Northern Tiger Cat (Leopardus tigrinus)

10. Eastern Tiger Cat (Leopardus emiliae)

Northern Tiger Cat (Leopardus tigrinus) - Leopardus Lineage

Northern and Eastern Tiger Cat / Oncilla Classification, Conservation and Facts

Update 2017: Eastern Tiger Cat split from Northern Tiger Cat.

11. Southern Tiger Cat (Leopardus guttulus)

Southern Tiger Cat (Leopardus guttulus) - Leopardus Lineage

Southern Tiger Cat Classification, Conservation and Facts

12. Guiña or Kodkod (Leopardus guigna)

Guina - Kodkod (Leopardus guigna) - Leopardus Lineage

Guiña / Kodkod Classification, Conservation and Facts

13. Geoffroy’s Cat (Leopardus geoffroyi)

Geoffroys Cat (Leopardus geoffroyi) - Leopardus Lineage

Geoffroy's Cat Classification, Conservation and Facts

Leopardus Genus Taxonomy updates since 2017

As at the last Felidae taxonomic revision in 2017, eight species were described. Subsequent studies have reclassified species and subspecies in this group resulting in thirteen species as at end 2023.

Here is a list of taxonomic changes to the Leopardus genus since 2017. Papers are listed on the relevant species pages.

    • 2017 - Eastern Oncilla / Tigrina (Leopardus emiliae) split from the Northern Tiger Cat (Leopardis tigrinus). (+1)
    • 2020 - Pampas Cat (Leopardus colocola) split into 5 species (L. braccatusL. colocolaL. garleppi, L. munoai and L. pajeros). (+4)
    • 2022 - Uruguayan Pampas Cat L. munoai nomenclature corrected to L.fasciatus.
    • 2023 - Nariño Cat (Leopardus narinensis) - new species possibly already extinct. (extinct species not counted on WildCatFamily)
      • Academic article: Ruiz-Garcia et al. Morphological and Genetics Support for a Hitherto Undescribed Spotted Cat Species (Genus Leopardus; Felidae, Carnivora) from the Southern Colombian Andes. Genes 2023, 14(6), 1266; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes14061266
      • Science article: New Cat Species Discovered in Museum Collection is Probably Already Extinct | Sci.News
      • Academic article stating the new species is invalid: Astorquiza et al. 2023. Distribution of the northern pampas cat, Leopardus garleppi, in northern South America, confirmation of its presence in Colombia and genetic analysis of a controversial record from the country. Mammalia. 87. 606-614. 10.1515/mammalia-2022-0114.

"Our morphological and genetic comparisons also shown that a previous record from Colombia supported by a single skin recently used to describe a new species named Leopardus narinensis belong to Leopardus tigrinus. "

WildCatFamily updated here (end 2023)

    • 2024 - Clouded Tiger Cat (Leopardus pardinoides) - previously a subspecies of Northern Tiger Cat (Leopardus tigrinus). Eastern Tiger Cat L. emillae no longer valid. (+1 -1)
YearReferenceTaxonomic ChangeNr of Cat SpeciesWildCatFamily UpdatedMDD UpdatedCatSG UpdatedIUCN Red List Updated
2017Nascimento et al. 2017Eastern Oncilla / Tigrina (L. emiliae) split from the Northern Tiger Cat (L. tigrinus)+1Nov '23 - Yes (excl Charts)Nov '23 - Yes (v1.11)Nov '23 - NoNov '23 - No
2021Nascimento et al. 2021Pampas Cat (L. colocola) split into 5 species (L. braccatus, L. colocola, L. garleppi, L. munoai and L. pajeros) previously subspecies.+4Nov '23 - Yes (excl Charts)
Apr '24 - Charts upd.
Nov '23 - Yes (v1.11)Nov '23 - NoNov '23 - No
2022Martínez-Lanfranco et al. 2022Uruguayan Pampas Cat L. munoai nomenclature corrected to L.fasciatus.n/aNov '23 - YesNov '23 - Yes (v1.11)Nov '23 - NoNov '23 - No
2023Ruiz-Garcia et al. 2023New Tiger Cat species Nariño Cat (L. narinensis) possibly already extinct.n/a (extinct sp not counted)n/aNov '23 - Yes (v1.11)Nov '23 - NoNov '23 - No
2023Astorquiza et al. 2023New Tiger Cat species Nariño Cat (L. narinensis) not valid.n/an/aNov '23 - No (v1.11)n/an/a
2024de Oliveira et al. 2024Clouded Tiger-cat (L. pardinoides) - previously a subspecies of Northern Tiger Cat (L. tigrinus)+1Feb '24 - NoFeb '24 - No (v1.12)Feb '24 - NoFeb '24 - No
2024de Oliveira et al. 2024Eastern Oncilla / Tigrina (L. emiliae) not valid.-1Feb '24 - NoFeb '24 - No (v1.12)Feb '24 - NoFeb '24 - No
2024de Oliveira et al. 2024Northern Tiger Cat (L. tigrinus) new common name Atlantic Forest Tiger-catn/aFeb '24 - NoFeb '24 - No (v1.12)Feb '24 - NoFeb '24 - No
2024de Oliveira et al. 2024Southern Tiger Cat (L. guttulus) new common name Savanna Tiger-catn/aFeb '24 - NoFeb '24 - No (v1.12)Feb '24 - NoFeb '24 - No

Wild Cat Course

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?

=^ . ^=

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