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.
If Clara could talk, we think she’d tell us that she only needs three things to be happy: her best friend Tango, a never-ending supply of toys, and an occasional treat of whipped cream (her favorite way to receive her regular dose of dewormer). Clara enjoys human attention, too, but she a little more low key than Tango. She will sometimes hide in an enrichment tube where she can peek out and wait for an opportunity to surprise Tango. With her best friend, she’s a silly, stealthy cat who likes to play hide-and-pounce.
Grace may be small in stature (she only weighs about 4 pounds), but she has the heart of a lion. A natural huntress, she stalks and pounces on any indigenous animal who happens into her enclosure, from crickets to birds. She doesn’t care much about rolling in catnip, but cinnamon is her spice of choice for enrichment. She also loves fresh mint and rosemary. Grace is very excited about receiving affection, but usually she’s only able to hold still for a couple of minutes before she’s off again like a whirlwind. While she is nocturnal, she willingly gets up and greets visitors during the day when she hears them, always interested to see what’s going on.
Renato came to the Conservators Center in September 2013 when he was a kitten, and grew up with Naja Caracal. As they reached adulthood, however, Naja decided she wanted a handsome caracal beau, and Renato seems to have no hard feelings. He is large for a Geoffroy’s cat and sleeps soundly during the day. In the evenings, he is very active and playful, stalking the binturongs next door and strutting his stuff where Vitor can watch.
Exuberant, bubbly Tango is fully grown but still has some of the personality of a kitten. She loves to run and play, especially in the early morning and late evening when Geoffroy’s cats are naturally the most active. Tango particularly enjoys toys with feathers, interesting scents, and getting kisses on the head from our trained animal care staff. Her best friend is Clara Geoffroy’s Cat; the two have been together since infancy. At dinnertime the girls get two bowls of food, but they almost always choose to eat out of the same bowl at the same time. When it’s naptime (which is often—they are cats!), Tango and Clara can usually be found cuddled together in the same den box.
Vitor is a gorgeous, sleek black phase Geoffroy’s cat with a name inspired by a mixed martial arts fighter, and well-earned by this athletic cat. His acrobatic antics can usually only be witnessed at night, on Twilight Tours, since he sleeps well during the day. Vitor is fairly certain he is the largest and most fearsome cat in the park, but we know he has a sweet side hidden under his bad boy exterior. He also has a very soft spot for his girlfriend, Grace, who lives next door. His favorite enrichment is catnip, but no one wants to be too close to him when he gets that excited!