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.

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 Complex - Classification

The Pampas Cats belong to the genus Leopardus and the full taxonomy or scientific classification of the Pampas Cat species 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

Complex: Leopardus colocola

Species:

Leopardus braccatus (Brazilian Pampas Cat / Pantanal Cat)

Leopardus colocola (Central Chilean Pampas Cat / Colocolo)

Leopardus fasciatus (Uruguayan Pampas or Pantanal Cat / Muñoa's Pampas Cat)

Leopardus garleppi (Northern Pampas Cat / Garlepp's Pampas Cat)

Leopardus pajeros (Southern Pampas Cat)

Subspecies: None

 

The scientific name for one of the Pampas Cats 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 these cats fit into the Felidae family and in particular the Leopardus genus.

Pampas Cat Classification Chart
Click chart to download.
Permission to use for personal or educational use.
Credit: www.WildCatFamily.com.
Taxonomic revision of the Pampas Cat Complex into 5 Species
This image from the original taxonomy paper; later L.munoi was updated to L.fasciatus.

Pampas Cat Taxonomy Updates since 2017

The following taxonomic changes have been accepted by the Mammal Biodiversity Database:

  • 2020 - Pampas Cat (Leopardus colocola) split into 5 species (L. braccatusL. colocolaL. garleppi, L. munoai and L. pajeros), no subspecies.

Reference: Fabio Oliveira Do Nascimento and others (2020). 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, https://doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlaa043

  • 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.

Current Taxonomy as at Nov 2023

There are five monotypic Pampas Cat species with no subspecies:

  • Brazilian Pampas Cat / Pantanal Cat - Leopardus braccatus
  • Central Chilean Pampas Cat / Colocolo - Leopardus colocola
  • Uruguayan Pampas or Pantanal Cat / Muñoa's Pampas Cat - Leopardus fasciatus
  • Northern Pampas Cat / Garlepp's Pampas Cat - Leopardus garleppi
  • Southern Pampas Cat - Leopardus pajeros

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

In 2017 the Felidae taxonomy revision 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:

Pampas Cat Working Group - South America

Wild Cats Americas (WCA) - Small Wild Cats of the Americas

Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundation (SWCCF)  - Global

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!

Pampas Cat Facts and Information

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

If you find this website useful, please consider a small contribution of $5 so I can continue to keep it updated. Thank you, Mandy 🙂

Pampas Cat Research

Here are some papers published on Pampas Cats. Click on the title bar to view the abstract and the link to the article.

For more 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.

Adult pampas cat image

Map of South America with Countries and Capitals
Map of South America by Nations Online Project

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)
Out of Print Try AbeBooks ~ Book Review