Geoffroy's cat
Leopardus geoffroyi

The Geoffroy's cat it is a relatively unknown species to the general public, but not without reason. In fact, remains first and foremost a wild cat.
Geoffroy's Cat
Geoffroy ’ s Cat – Charles Barilleaux from Cincinnati, Ohio, United States of America, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Content

History

The Geoffroy's cat (Leopardus geoffroyi) is a small and little known spotted wild cat native to central and southern South America. Etienne Geoffroy Saint- Hilary (1772-1844), 19th century French zoologist who gives his name to Geoffroy's cat, studied this animal when he was professor of zoology in Paris. During your study, identified five subspecies based on their geographic dispersion:

  • Leopardus geoffroyi geoffroyi – Central Argentina
  • Leopardus geoffroyi euxantha – North of Argentina, West of Brazil
  • Leopardus geoffroyi leucobapta – Patagonia
  • Leopardus geoffroyi paraguae – Paraguay, southeast of Brazil, Uruguay
  • Leopardus geoffroyi salinarum – Northwest and central Argentina

Physical characteristics

"Geoffroy's cat"

Gato de Geoffroy
Geoffrey's cat, taken at the Cincinnati Zoo. Photo by Greg Hume – Greg Hume, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Geoffroy's cat has small black spots that evenly cover its fur with little variation in size and spacing. Their fur varies from an orange-brown color in the northern areas to a gray color in the southernmost areas with numerous shades between them., but completely black coats have been found to be common. Like most wild cats, the fur on its belly is pale in color ranging from cream to white. Its tail and limbs are covered with dark rings, almost equally spaced.

The Geoffroy's cat is the size of an average domestic cat, with an average of about 60 centimeters (24 inches) from the head to the base of the tail and an average of about 30 centimeters (12 inches). Males weigh an average of 4,5 kg (10 pounds), while females weigh an average of 3,6 kg (8 pounds), although individuals weighing up to 7,7 kg (17 pounds).

When samples were compared between regions, only the mass of the male cat varied with geographic location. Those found in the southern part of their range are usually larger than those in the north, although no correlation was found between body mass and latitude.

Unusual among wild cats and cats in general, it has been observed that geoffroy's cats stand up on their hind legs to scan the surrounding area. Some individuals from geoffroy's cats live more than 20 years in captivity, but, average, wild cats usually live up to 14 years.

Habits and skills

Geoffroy's cat
Baby Geoffrey’s Cat – Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The geoffroy's cats are nocturnal and their activities peak in the middle of the night. They tend to spend most of their time on the ground, but they are able to climb trees and can swim very well, as the locals call them “fishing cats” for its ability to easily enter the water.

Like lonely hunters, the Geoffroy's cat only comes into contact with others during the mating season. It has been described as an opportunistic predator, which means that it will feed on whatever is most abundant in its area or easiest to prey. Small mammals are their most frequent prey, representing at least the 63,3% of their primary diet in each season, while birds are the most hunted during the warmer seasons.

The geoffroy's cats they tend to use grasslands and marshes for hunting and lounging and use forest views to mark their scent. The seasonal differences in their diet were notably greater between the warmer and colder seasons., suggesting that the diet was limited by seasonal fluctuation and prey availability.

Distribution

The geoffroy's cats they inhabit the grasslands of the Andes pampas, in the deserts and semi-deserts of Mount, in the dry forests and savannas of the Gran Chaco landscape, from southern Bolivia to the Strait of Magellan, at a height of up to 3.300 meters above the sea level. The total size of the range of these cats is, on average, about 8,83 km2, while the main habitat these cats frequently visit only encompasses 1,46 km2. When observed in nature, the geoffroy's cats living in habitats modified by ranching and cattle grazing were more active, had wider ranges and traveled greater distances than those found in protected areas.

Conservation status

Geoffroy's Cat
Leopardus geoffroyi (Geoffroy ’ s Cat), Karlsruhe Zoo, Germany – Daf-de, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In the news, the Geoffroy's cat is almost threatened and, though not in immediate danger, you are at risk.

The geoffroy's cats suffer from very high hunting pressure outside their protected area, which currently constitutes one of its greatest threats to conservation. However, the exploitation of their skins for the illegal fur trade industry between the years 60 and 80, it is estimated that some 350.000 skins only between 1976 and 1978.

Since the middle of the years 80, hunting and trade in their skins have decreased significantly, but it's still one of your biggest threats. In a recent study using camera traps, It is estimated that the population density of the Geoffroy's cat is of some 9-40 individuals for each 100 km2. Although the population size is currently unknown, we believe the population is declining and thinning. However, are still occasionally killed when seen as pests or predators of livestock. These skins can be seen in circulation within the local illegal trade.

In the center of Argentina, man-made mortality represents the 62% of the known deaths of the Geoffroy's cat, including poaching, death by domestic dogs and vehicle collisions. Another factor contributing to their danger is the overwhelming demand for them by the exotic pet trade.

The "Geoffroy's cat" in captivity

The Geoffroy's cat it is a relatively unknown species to the general public, but not without reason. In fact, remains first and foremost a wild cat: if it can withstand the presence of man in its natural environment or even be bred in captivity, It is unlikely, on the other hand, that can be tamed.

Nonetheless, These cats are illegally caught and raised with domestic cats, which produces hybrid cats and reduces the total population. Critical forests and habitats are rapidly being lost to human causes, like deforestation, but unlike other species that depend heavily on their habitat, the Geoffroy's cat has learned to adapt and to use open areas as well. Currently, the Geoffroy's cat is protected in Argentina, but due to the lack of information available on its natural history, it is not possible to develop an adequate and scientifically sound conservation strategy to protect this animal.

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