The ocelot (Leopardi’s pardalis) is a medium-sized wild cat that is common on the American continent. The small cat belongs to the species Leopardus and the Felidae family. The ocelot is one of the most famous wild cats.


Name: Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis)
Body length: 50-101 cm + 30-50 cm tail
Weight: 8-15 kg
Color: pale yellow, yellow-beige, yellow-brown to grayish; black spots, rosettes, and stripes
Features: rounded ears, stocky legs, large paws
Habitat: American continent; Forests: bushland to tropical rainforest


The ocelot (Leopardi’s pardalis) is mainly characterized by its spotted fur. It is mostly pale yellow to yellow-brown or grayish. The dark spots are often rosette-shaped and merge into longitudinal stripes on the sides. The neck and belly are white. The ears are round and black, each with a white spot. The tail of the Leopardus pardalis is short with black rings on top. The legs are strong, the paws are quite large.

Genetically, the ocelots are quite different depending on their habitat. Therefore they are divided into several subspecies. Officially, however, only two subspecies have been recognized so far, the Leopardus pardalis pardalis, which is distributed from Texas to Costa Rica, and the Leopardi’s pardalis mitis, which lives in South America. Most importantly, they are of different sizes. Animals that live in humid climates are on average larger than those that live in drier areas.


The ocelot lives in America. It is widespread in South and Central America. In South America, its distribution area extends to the north of Argentina. Only in Chile, he is not to be found. The cat is common throughout Central America. In North America, it can be found in Mexico and in southern Texas. Until some time ago it could be found in other southern states of the USA such as Arizona and Arkansas.

Its habitat is quite diverse. In general, it can be said that he prefers areas with heavy vegetation. Here the ocelot can be found from bushland to tropical rainforest. It lives in mangrove forests as well as in the grass steppe. He can stay in coastal marshes as well as in the subtropical rainforest. The ocelot is one of the largest and most abundant small cats in tropical America.


Ocelot Kitten Like most big cats, the ocelot is mainly active at night and at dusk. During the day, the cat rests in trees, bushes, or depressions in the ground. He hunts mainly on the ground and can adapt his prey pattern well to the respective conditions. In addition to rodents, he also hunts birds. Since he is a very good climber, he can also prey on a monkey or a sloth. During the night hunt, the animals hike up to 7 kilometers to find prey. The Leopardis pardalis is a loner.

Because the ocelot is so widespread, its roaming areas often overlap with the habitats of other small cats. These are then at a disadvantage compared to the ocelot, as it makes them contested for food and can even be directly dangerous to them. This is why other types of cats are much rarer. One speaks here of the “ocelot effect”.

The range of a male animal is up to 43 km. It includes about 2-3 areas where females are. The roaming areas of female cats, however, are much smaller with a maximum of 16 km. This also depends heavily on the area in question. In Texas, the areas are rather smaller.

Ocelot Today

Because the ocelot is one of the most common feral cats, it is not classified as endangered. Nevertheless, it is under protection in almost all areas of distribution because it was endangered by the trade-in its fur, especially from the 60s to the 80s. In Texas, there are also efforts to protect animals from traffic accidents.

A current threat to the ocelot, as with many wild animals, is the destruction and fragmentation of the habitat, especially through clearing. Although the ocelot has so far been considered to be very adaptable, a decline in population is now suspected.

The ocelot is of course not suitable as a pet. But cats are more common in zoos. Since many cat lovers admire the beautiful predator, there has been an attempt for several years to breed a domestic cat that looks similar to the ocelot. This resulted in the so-called Ocicat. Unlike the Savannah cat and the serval, for example, the Ocicat and ocelot are not related

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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