Southern Tiger Cat (Leopardus guttulus) - Leopardus Lineage
Southern Tiger Cat (Leopardus guttulus) by Instituto Pró-Carnívoros Brazil
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.

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 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)

Genus: Leopardus

Species: Leopardus guttulus (Southern Tiger Cat)

Subspecies: none


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).

Oncilla sitting in a tree by Luiz Claudio Marigo (Leopardus tigrinus)

Oncilla close-up by Gerard Lacz (Leopardus tigrinus)

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 & Research

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

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!

Oncilla kitten by Nick Gordon (Leopardus tigrinus)

Oncilla resting in a tree by Luiz Claudio Margio (Leopardus tigrinus)

Southern Tiger Cat Facts and Information

These organizations have well researched and authoritative information on Southern Tiger Cats:

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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