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

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 guttulus), however in 2013 the Oncilla was split into a northern and southern species according to new molecular evidence, now called the Northern Tiger Cat and Southern Tiger Cat..

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).

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).

Classification Chart

This Southern Tiger Cat classification chart shows where this cat fits into the Felidae family and in particular the Leopardus genus.

Southern Tiger Cat Classification Chart
Click chart to download.
Permission to use for personal or educational use.

Note: This chart is at the 2017 Felidae taxonomy and excludes later changes to the Tiger Cat complex.

Southern Tiger Cat (Leopardus guttulus) 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:

Tiger Cats Conservation Initiative - Tiger Cats Working Group

 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!

Southern Tiger Cat Facts and Information

These organizations have well researched and authoritative information on Southern Tiger 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 🙂

Southern Tiger Cat Research

Here are some papers published on Southern Tiger Cats (S. Oncillas / S. Tigrinas). Click on the title bar to view the abstract and the link to the article.

View more articles on Leopardus guttulus 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.

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

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