Pampas Cat (Leopardus colocola) - Leopardus Lineage
Pampas Cat by ZooPro (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

The adaptable Pampas Cat (Leopardus colocola - previously Leopardus colocolo) occurs in a variety of habitats at all altitudes across South America. It is often confused with other Leopardus small spotted cats as its coat can be patterned, however the variety with the plain coat is unique to this species.

As with most Latin American cats, Pampas Cats were hunted extensively for the fur trade in the past and nowadays loss of habitat due to human expansion is the primary threat to their continued survival.

Species taxonomy updates since 2017:

  • 2021 - Pampas Cat (Leopardus colocola) split into 5 species (L. braccatusL. colocolaL. garleppi, L. munoai and L. pajeros).

Reference: Fabio Oliveira Do Nascimento and others (2017). Taxonomic revision of the pampas cat Leopardus colocola complex (Carnivora: Felidae): an integrative approach, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, Volume 191, Issue 2, February 2021, Pages 575–611,

  • 2022 - Uruguayan Pampas Cat L. munoai nomenclature corrected to L.fasciatus.

Reference: Martínez-Lanfranco, Juan Andrés & González, Enrique. (2022). The oldest available name for the pampas cat of the Uruguayan Savannah ecoregion is Leopardus fasciatus (Larrañaga 1923). 13. XX-XX. 10.12933/therya-22-1187.

Note: The website charts and pages are based on the 2017 IUCN CatSG Felidae taxonomy prior to these changes.

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 Pampas Cats

~ Wide range habitat types South America ~

~  Variable coat from plain to patterned ~

~ Pointed v rounded ears other Leopardus cats ~

Pampas Cat (Leopardus colocola / colocolo) Classification

The Pampas Cat belongs to the genus Leopardus and the full taxonomy or scientific classification of the Pampas Cat species (Leopardus colocola) is 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 colocola (Pampas Cat)


L.c. colocola

L.c. wolffsohni

L.c. pajeros

L.c. budini

L.c. garleppi

L.c. braccatus

L.c. munoai


The scientific name for the Pampas cat is Leopardus colocola (previously L. colocolo) 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 Pampas Cat classification chart shows where this cat fits into the Felidae family and in particular the Leopardus genus.

Pampas Cat Classification Chart (Leopardus colocola)
Click chart to download.
Permission to use for personal or educational use.

Pampas Cat (Leopardus colocola) Subspecies

Three species and eleven subspecies of Pampas Cas have been recognized in the past:

  • Leopardus colocolo colocolo
  • Leopardus colocolo wolffsohni
  • Leopardus pajeros pajeros
  • Leopardus pajeros budini
  • Leopardus pajeros crespoi
  • Leopardus pajeros crucinus
  • Leopardus pajeros garleppi
  • Leopardus pajeros steinbachi
  • Leopardus pajeros thomasi
  • Leopardus braccatus braccatus
  • Leopardus braccatus munoai

However the last Felidae taxonomy revision in 2017 found insufficient genetic evidence for species differentiation. One species was proposed with seven subspecies and a reversion to the original spelling colocola:

  • Leopardus colocola colocola - central Chile west of the Andes
  • Leopardus colocola wolffsohni - north Chile west of the Andes
  • Leopardus colocola pajeros - Argentina
  • Leopardus colocola budini - north-west Argentina, Bolivia east of the Andes
  • Leopardus colocola garleppi - south Colombia, Ecuador, Peru east of the Andes
  • Leopardus colocola braccatus - south-west and central Brazil, Paraguay
  • Leopardus colocola munoai - Uruguay

Pampas Cat Conservation

The global conservation status for the Pampas Cat 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!

Adult pampas cat image

Pampas Cat Facts and Information

These organizations have well researched and authoritative information on Pampas Cats:

Pampas Cat Research

For a list of papers on Pampas Cats view articles on Leopardus colocola 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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