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The Geoffroy’s cat, Leopardus geoffroyi, is a small wild cat from South America. It is, in fact, the smallest cat in the world with adults typically weighing an average of 4.4kg. Nocturnal and arboreal, the Geoffroy’s cat is an apex predator throughout its range. It is named for 19th century French zoologist Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire.
Geoffroy’s cats are found from southern Bolivia south through the southern end of Argentina and from the eastern face of the Andes mountains to the Atlantic Ocean, including parts of Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, and Paraguay. Threat include habitat loss and fragmentation, retaliatory killing by humans, and the illegal fur trade. Today the Geoffroy’s cat is still found throughout its historic range.
The Geoffroy’s cat is found in a variety of habitats and has a wide range of ecological tolerance. Found in subtropical and temperate forests; scrublands, woodlands, dry forests, and savannas; semi-desert regions; grasslands; and marsh the Geoffroy’s cat is present in both pristine and recovering ecosystems throughout its range. The Geoffroy’s cat is found from sea level up to as high as 3,800 meters in the Bolivian Andes.
Solitary by nature, the Geoffroy’s cat is not unlike most other felids in that regard. Population densities vary wildly between 7–12/100km2 in Chile where the Geoffroy’s cat is considered to be quite rare to 190-220/100km2 in Argentina where the species is abundant.
Researchers have found that small mammals make up as much as 63% of the Geoffroy’s cat’s diet, with populations closely linked to prey availability. Introduced species to South America, like the European Hare, Lepus europaeus, have become staples of the Geoffroy’s cat’s prey model. Lizards, insects, frogs, and, occasionally, fish are also part of the Geoffroy’s cat’s diet.