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.
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.
Southern Tiger Cat (Leopardus guttulus) - Leopardus Lineage
Oncille (Leopardus tigrinus) au Parc des Félins by Groumfy69 (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

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 (Leopardus guttulus) 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 guttulus (Southern Tiger Cat)

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

Southern Tiger Cat (Leopardus tigrinus) Subspecies

Lower classification

Oncilla close-up by Gerard Lacz (Leopardus tigrinus)

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 current Felidae taxonomy revision describes 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:

Please support these organizations with their important work. No matter how small or large your donation, 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

The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on Southern Tiger Cats:


Books on Neotropical Cats

Currently there is no publication in print dedicated to just the cats of Central and South America.

A book entitled Neotropical Cats by TG de Oliviera was published in 1994 however is no longer in print, and may be available in libraries or in used book stores.

The latest information on these cats can be found in books about all wild cats such as those below.

Neotropical Cats by TG de Oliveira 1994
Neotropical Cats by TG de Oliveira (1994) - Out of Print
Try AbeBooks ~ Book Review 1996

Wild Cats of the World - Luke Hunter 2015

Wild Cats of the World

by Luke Hunter 2015

(general and academic interest)

Amazon US (incl Kindle)

AbeBooks global

The Wild Cat Book - Sunquist 2014

The Wild Cat Book

by Fiona and Mel Sunquist 2014

(general interest)

Amazon US (incl Kindle)

AbeBooks global

Small Wild Cats - Sanderson and Watson 2011

Small Wild Cats

by J. Sanderson and P. Watson 2011

(general interest)

Amazon US (incl Kindle)

AbeBooks global