Margay (Leopardus wiedii) - Leopardus Lineage
Margay cat (Leopardus wiedii) by Malene Thyssen (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

The amazingly agile Margay (Leopardus wiedii) occupies the dense forests of Latin America. Due to their flexible joints and long tail the Margay navigates the tree tops almost like a monkey. Similar in markings to the Ocelot, the Margay was once heavily exploited for the fur trade, but more recently deforestation of its primary habitat has become the biggest threat to this cat's survival.

Leopardus Lineage

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 Margays

~ Arboreal cat of Latin American forests ~

~  Hind feet can rotate 180° ~

~ Slow reproductive rate ~

Margay (Leopardus wiedii) Classification

The Margay cat belongs to the genus Leopardus and the full taxonomy or scientific classification of the Margay 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)

Genus: Leopardus

Species: Leopardus wiedii (Margay)


L.w. wiedii

L.w. vigens

L.w. glauculus

The scientific name for the Margay cat is Leopardus wiedii 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).

Classification Chart

This Margay classification chart shows where this cat fits into the Felidae family and in particular the Leopardus genus.

Margay Classification Chart (Leopardus wiedii)
Click chart to download.
Permission to use for personal or educational use.

Margay (Leopardus wiedii) Subspecies

Up to eleven subspecies of Margays have been described in the past:

  • Leopardus wiedii wiedii - south Brazil, south Colombia
  • Leopardus wiedii amazonicus - Amazonas Brazil
  • Leopardus wiedii boliviae - Bolivia, north Argentina
  • Leopardus wiedii pirrensis - Panama
  • Leopardus wiedii vigens - lower Amazon Brazil, Guianas
  • Leopardus wiedii glauculus - Mexico
  • Leopardus wiedii nicaraguae - Nicaragua
  • Leopardus wiedii oaxacensis - Oaxaca mountains Mexico
  • Leopardus wiedii salvinia - Guatemala, Belize
  • Leopardus wiedii yucatanicus - Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
  • Leopardus wiedii cooperi - Texas USA, north-east Mexico

However the last Felidae taxonomy revision in 2017 based on genetic studies proposed three subspecies, pending further research:

  • Leopardus wiedii wiedii - South America south of the Amazon
  • Leopardus wiedii vigens - South America north of the Amazon
  • Leopardus wiedii glauculus - Central America

Margay Conservation

The global conservation status for the Margay is Near Threatened (NT) and populations are declining.

The following organizations are dedicated to research and conservation of the smaller cats of Latin America:

Institute Pro-Carnivores - Wild Cats of Brazil

Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundation - Global

Please support these organizations with their important work if you can. No matter the size of your contribution, every bit helps!

Margay grooming by Mark Payne-Gill

Margay Facts and Information

These organizations have well researched and authoritative information on Margays:

Margay Research

For a list of papers on Margays view articles on Leopardus wiedii in the IUCN Cat Specialist Group database. (Scroll down once the library page is loaded to see the list.)

Consider joining the Friends of the Cat Specialist Group to access the full articles and receive their journal Cat News covering the latest wild cat research.


Molecular population genetics, evolutionary biology and biological conservation of neotropical carnivores.

Field Guide to the Wild Cats of South America (Spanish)

Neotropical Cats by TG de Oliveira (1994)
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