Andean cat (Leopardus jacobita)

Common Name: Andean Mountain Cat
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrata)
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Felinae (Oreailurus)
Species: jacobitus

(The information for this cat comes from museum skins and skulls, and there have only been a handful of sightings in the wild. Only 2 scientists had the opportunity to observe and photograph this animal and it was only for a 2-hour period. To date, that is the only finding of this cat in the wild for study.)

Size and Appearance: The Andean Mountain Cat is a small but sturdy cat with long soft fur, which is a pale silvery gray in color. It is striped irregularly with brown or orangy markings down the sides from the back, with dark gray bars across the chest and forelegs. It has rosette-like spots on the sides, and its belly is pale with dark spots. The tail is thick and long and banded with dark rings.

Longevity of this cat is unknown, both in captivity and in the wild.

external image anndeanmountaincat2.jpgHabitat: Only found in the rocky-arid and semi-arid zones of the high Andes above the timberline.

Distribution: Andes Mountains of Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru.

Hunting and Diet: Reports of this cats diet include mountain chinchillas and mountain viscachas. These prey are “ricochettal” rodents, meaning that they bound off rock faces unpredictably to escape predators. Because of this, it is believed that the long tail of this cat is used to enable it to quickly change direction during a chase.

Principal Threats: So little is known of this cat that it is hard to determine if its rarity is a natural phenomenon, is attributed to man, or is just a misconception due to lack of sightings. Therefore, the principal threat to this beautiful little cat is lack of knowledge. This animal showed no fear of humans.
The Andean cat is considered to be one of the most endangered wild cats in the world and perhaps the rarest South American field, and yet is one of the least known cat species.(There have been only a handful of observations of the Andean cat in the wild, few photographs taken and just a few museum skins and skulls have been preserved).

Andean cat conservation: International trade of this species is prohibited by its listing on Appendix I of CITES, and according to national legislation, the Andean cat is fully protected throughout its range.
Since the publication of the Cat Action Treasury Plan there have been substantial increases in research efforts. The Cat Action Treasury has sponsored surveys to determine the status of this species and improve our understanding of this cat in order to inform conservation measures. These surveys confirmed the rarity of this species. The Andean cat has been upgraded from Vulnerable to Endangered on the IUCN Red List. It has been suggested by the Andean Cat Alliance (AGA), previously the Committee for the Conservation of the Andean Cat (COCGA), that because this cat needs large areas to live successfully, and its range extends over the Andes through international borders, a multinational, cooperative approach is necessary for its long-term conservation. AGA has launched a multinational project to collate and analyse data on the on the Andean cat in order to initiate immediate conservation efforts, and in 2004 a conservation action plan was drawn up for the species. The fact that there are no captive specimens or breeding programmes for the Andean cat means that the survival of this species depends on the development and success of these conservation measures.

These cats are active at night - nocturnal.


Video on the Andean Mountain Cat:

To learn more information check out these sites:

Works Cited:
"Andean Cat (Leopardus Jacobita)." Andean Cat Videos, Photos and Facts. WFN, n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 2013.

Andean Cat Walking over Rock. Digital image. Andean Cat (Leopardus Jacobita). ARKive, n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2013. <>.

"Andean Mountain Cat." Andean Mountain Cat Facts. Big Cat Rescue, 2006. Web. 22 Oct. 2013.

Have a PURRfect day!
Michaela Snyder