Note: The images on this page may either be the Northern Tiger Cat / Northern Oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus) or the Southern Tiger Cat / Southern Oncilla (Leopardus guttulus) under the revised taxonomy.
The Southern Tiger Cat (Leopardus guttulus) is one of the small spotted cat species of South America also known as Southern Tigrina or Southern Oncilla. This species was previously a subspecies of Oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus), however in 2013 the Oncillas were split into a northern and southern species according to new molecular evidence.
These small cats are nocturnal and sparsely distributed so are difficult to study and can be easily confused with the other small spotted cats of South America. Habitat loss and fragmentation are the primary threats to their survival.
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 Southern Tiger Cats
~ Described as a distinct species in 2013 ~
~ Historically hunted for the fur trade ~
~ Few studies & little known ~
Southern Tiger Cat (Leopardus guttulus) Classification
The Southern Tiger Cat / Southern Tigrina / Southern Oncilla belongs to the genus Leopardus and the full taxonomy, scientific classification or higher classification of the Southern Tiger 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 guttulus (Southern Tiger Cat)
The scientific name for the Southern Tiger Cat / Southern Tigrina / Southern Oncilla is Leopardus guttulus, 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 Southern Tiger Cat classification chart shows where this cat fits into the Felidae family and in particular the Leopardus genus.
Southern Tiger Cat (Leopardus tigrinus) Subspecies
In 2013 the Southern Tiger Cat (Leopardus guttulus) was described as a separate species due to new molecular evidence, previously a subspecies of Oncilla / Tigrina (Leopardus tigrinus guttulus).
The last Felidae taxonomy revision in 2017 described the Southern Tiger Cat as a monotypic species (no subspecies), pending further research. The cat's distribution covers south-east and southern Brazil, northern Argentina and possibly Paraguay.
Southern Tiger Cat Conservation
The global conservation status for the Southern Tiger Cat is Vulnerable (VU) 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
Please support these organizations with their important work if you can. No matter the size of your contribution, every bit helps!
Southern Tiger Cat Facts and Information
These organizations have well researched and authoritative information on Southern Tiger Cats:
- Southern Tiger Cat Status and Distribution Map - IUCN Red List
- Southern Tiger Cat Detailed Information - IUCN Cat Specialist Group
- Southern Tiger Cat Academic Literature pdf - IUCN Cat Specialist Group
- Southern Tiger Cat Information - Int. Soc. for Endangered Cats (ISEC)
Southern Tiger Cat Research
For a list of papers on Southern Tiger Cat view articles on Leopardus guttulus in the IUCN Cat Specialist Group database. (Scroll down once the library page is loaded to see the list.)