The beautiful silvery grey Andean Cat (Leopardus jacobita) is very rare and occurs at low densities in its mountainous habitat of the Andes, South America.
Very little is known about this cat and research is difficult in the extreme conditions at high altitudes.
In addition to the usual threats of habitat loss and degradation due to human activities and expansion, the fragile mountain region with its specialist wildlife will also be affected by global climate change.
1. Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis)
2. Geoffroy’s Cat (Leopardus geoffroyi)
3. Andean Cat (Leopardus jacobita)
4. Margay (Leopardus wiedii)
5. Pampas Cat (Leopardus colocola)
6. Northern Tiger Cat (Leopardus tigrinus)
7. Southern Tiger Cat (Leopardus guttulus)
8. Guiña or Kodkod (Leopardus guigna)
Key Facts about Andean Cats
~ Endangered rare cat of South America ~
~ Mountainous habitat of the Andes ~
~ Very few studies so little is known ~
Andean Cat (Leopardus jacobita) Classification
The Andean Cat belongs to the genus Leopardus and the full taxonomy or scientific classification of the Andean Cat species is:
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 jacobita (Andean Cat)
The scientific name for the Andean Cat is Leopardus jacobita which is also known as the binomial name, species name, latin name, biological name or zoological name. Some use the term 'botanical name' however that term is only applicable to the plant kingdom (botany) and not the animal kingdom (zoology).
This Andean Cat classification chart shows where this cat fits into the Felidae family and in particular the Leopardus genus.
Andean Cat (Leopardus jacobita) Subspecies
No subspecies of Andean Cats have been described in the past and the last Felidae taxonomy revision in 2017 continues to recognize the Andean Cat as a monotypic species.
- Leopardus jacobita - Andes mountains of Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru and Patagonia Argentina - South America (patchy distribution).
Andean Cat Conservation
The global conservation status for the Andean Cat is Endangered (EN) with an estimated population of less than 1500.
The following organizations are dedicated to research and conservation of the Andean Cat:
Andean Cat Alliance - South America
Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) - Andean Cat
WCN Expo 2017 - Andean Cat Alliance presentation
Small wild cat working groups of the Neotropics: results of the first group leaders meeting.
Please support these organizations with their important work if you can. No matter the size of your contribution, every bit helps!
Andean Cat Facts and Information
These organizations have well researched and authoritative information on Andean Cats:
- Andean Cat Status and Distribution Map - IUCN Red List
- Andean Cat Detailed Information - IUCN Cat Specialist Group
- Andean Cat Academic Literature pdf - IUCN Cat Specialist Group
Andean Cat Research
Here are some papers published on Andean Cats. Click on the title bar to view the abstract and the link to the article.
The Andean cat (Leopardus jacobita) inhabits rocky habitats in the central Andes of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru, usually above 3,600 m (Villalba et al., 2016), and at lower elevations in southern Argentina (Novaro et al., 2010; Martinez et al., 2008). It is one of the five most threatened felid species of the world and it has been categorized as Critically Endangered in Bolivia (Villalba et al., 2009). It is also listed in CITES Appendix I. There is no record of any Andean cat in captivity.
In March 2016, a sub-adult Andean cat was captured by local people in the town of Patacamaya (about 100 km from La Paz city) and delivered by the Bolivian Forestry and Environmental Police (POFOMA) to the Vesty Pakos Municipal Zoo (La Paz). There was no certainty of the specimen's origin and exact date of capture, therefore, it was decided to keep it in captivity until an appropriate solution could be decided.
Behavioral studies showed that the individual should be released. We carried out pathogens analyses that came back negative (Napolitano et al., 2019) and identified two potential sites with optimal habitat to release the individual in Sajama National Park.
Villalba, M.L.; Beltran-Saavedra, L.F.; Ledezma, G.; Flores, E.; Reppucci, J.; Pacheco, L.F.; Ayala, G.; Ticona, H.; Palacios, R.; Morales, A.
Pre-release care, translocation, and radio tracking of a rescued Andean cat in Bolivia
Context: Understanding the factors that determine the distribution and abundance of species is an important aim of ecology and prerequisite for conservation. The Andean cat (Leopardus jacobita) and the pampas cat (L. colocolo) are two of the least studied felids. Both are threatened, of similar size and live sympatrically in the Andes of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru.
Aims: We aimed at estimating the population densities of the Andean cat and pampas cat in two continuous areas and to analyse the activity patterns of these two species and that of mountain vizcacha (Lagidium viscacia), the main prey of the Andean cat.
Methods: We used camera traps to evaluate the density of both felid species using the space explicit capture recapture (SECR) framework and the overlap in their activity patterns with that of mountain Vizcacha, using the Kernel-density estimator in two contiguous areas in the Bolivian Altiplano, at Muro-Amaya and at Micani, both within the Ciudad de Piedra region.
Key results: Andean cat density was estimated at 6.45 individuals per 100 km² in Muro-Amaya and 6.91 individuals per 100 km² in Micani, whereas the density of the pampas cat was 5.31 individuals per 100 km² and 8.99 individuals per 100 km² respectively. The Andean cat was mainly nocturnal, whereas the pampas cat was cathemeral. The activity of the mountain vizcacha overlapped less with that of its specialised predator, the Andean cat, than with that of the pampas cat.
Conclusions: In line with our predictions, the Andean cat, considered a more specialised nocturnal hunter, particularly of mountain vizcacha, had lower population densities than did the more generalist pampas cat.
Implications: Low population densities, as compared with theoretical expectations, pose an additional conservation problem for these felids, in an area such as the high Andes.
Huaranca, J.C.; Villalba, M.L.; Negroes, N.; Jimenez, J.E.; MacDonald, D.W.; Pacheco, L.F.
Density and activity patterns of Andean cat and Pampas cat (Leopardus jacobita_and L. colocolo) in the Bolivian Altiplano
2019 Wildlife Research (47): 68-71
View more articles on Leopardus jacobita in the IUCN Cat Specialist Group database. (Scroll down once the library page is loaded to see the list.)