Geoffroy's Cat (Leopardus geoffroyi) is a small wild cat found in Central and South America, which measures about 24 inches (60 cm) from tip to tail, with a short 12-inch tail (30 cm). This makes it about the size of a domestic cat - larger males can weigh up to 17 pounds (7.8 Kg).
Their black-spotted golden-brown coats allow them to hide easily in their wooded habitats, although melanistic individuals are fairly common both in the wild and in captivity. Coat color depends on the cat's home range - cats in the north tend to have more golden-brown coloring, while southern cats have more grayish coloring. There are five identified subspecies of Geoffroy's Cat:
- Leopardus geoffroyi geoffroyi (Central Argentina)
- Leopardus geoffroyi euxantha (Western Bolivia and Northern Argentina)
- Leopardus geoffroyi leucobapta (Patagonia)
- Leopardus geoffroyi paraguae (Uruguay, Southeast Brazil and Paraguay)
- Leopardus geoffroyi salinarum (Northwestern Argentina)
Unusually among cats, Geoffroy's Cats have been observed standing on their hind legs to scan their surroundings, like a meerkat or prairie dog. They don't typically climb trees, although they are capable of doing so. Their prey mainly consists of rodents, hares, lizards, insects, and sometimes even amphibians and fish.
Female Geoffroy's Cats will give birth to a litter of one to four kittens after a 72-day gestation period. Expectant mothers will take care to find a safe place to have their kittens, which will not leave them until they reach eight months of age.
From the 1960s to the 1980s, Geoffroy's Cat was hunted for its beautiful pelt, based on demand from the international fur trade. Concerted efforts by Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Brazil and Argentina to make hunting these cats for the commercial fur trade illegal had a substantial effect on maintaining a healthy population overall, although Geoffroy's Cat is still considered to be endangered in countries like Bolivia. And because of loss of habitat and the encroachment of human development, it is still listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN.