Margay – Cat 4 of 8 in the Leopardus family of cats - Wild Cat Family

Margay – Cat 4 of 8 in the Leopardus family of cats

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Margay (Leopardus wiedii)

The Margay, is one of the eight wild cats in the Leopardus family of cats, also known as the Ocelot family of cats. (Update: there are now thirteen Leopardus cats according to taxonomy changes since the last official Felidae classification in 2017.) The small spotted cats of the Leopardus family are distributed throughout Central and South America.

The agile, aboreal Margay is also known as a tree ocelot and inhabits the dense forests of Latin America. Its adaptations such as flexible joints and a long tail enable it to travel along the tree tops  like a monkey.

Similar in markings to the Ocelot, the Margay was once heavily exploited for the fur trade, but more recently deforestation of its primary habitat has become the biggest threat to this cat’s survival.

Margay cat (Leopardus wiedii) - Leopardus Lineage

Margays in the News

The smaller cats are not often in the news so these articles are from the past decade:

2022: Unwind by Watching Beautiful Rainforest Animals Caught on Camera (Peru)

2017: Wild cats: Ocelots, margays and oncillas thrive in nature reserves in Atlantic Forest in Brazil | IBTimes UK

2015: Match the footprint: error-prone method of identifying wild cats (

Unfortunately, some of these news sites are riddled with ads, but the articles are nevertheless interesting!

If you know of any other news articles on this cat, please send them to me, thank you.


Cats of the Wild Podcast

Wild Missions have recorded an episode about the Margay:

Episode 16: Wild Missions | How to Train a Margay

“This is the story of Sam and her not-for-profit Hoja Nueva – a beacon of hope deep in the jungle of the Peruvian Amazon, where every day they rehabilitate and rewild threatened wildlife.”

Small Wild Cats Audio – Coat Color

Listen to a short audio taken from a chapter in the book Small Wild Cats by well-known small cat conservationist Jim (James) Sanderson of SWCCF. Jim has been instrumental in setting up working groups to help protect the smaller cats of Latin America and elsewhere around the globe.

This excerpt covers how small wild cats like the Margay get their coat color and what causes black coats.


Small Wild Cats - Sanderson and Watson

546 Observations of Margays on iNaturalist

There are currently 546 sightings of Margays on iNaturalist, sadly many are of roadkill.

iNaturalist is a global platform for the public to upload images of wild creatures they have seen in nature. If you have any photos of natural biodiversity from your travels, be sure to open an account and upload your images. Identification is verified by other members and the data can be used in future research. A great way to contribute to conservation and research!

Note there are images of dead animals in case you are a sensitive viewer.

Margay - Brazil
iNaturalist Margay Observation Brazil · © rogeriotruglio · CC-BY-NC

Where to see Margays

A great place to read trip reports from people that have travelled to look for wild cats in their natural habitat is

Here is a list of recent trip reports to look for Margays and here is a list of ethical tour operators that offer wildlife trips in South America.

If you know of anyone that may be interested in studying wild cats, please share this post with them.

There is a dire need for research on the lesser known smaller cats.

I would love to encourage as many budding zoologists as possible to specialize in these wonderful animals!

Many thanks!

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