Andean Mountain Cat

Andean Mountain Cat

Scientific Name: Leopardus jacobita

The Andean mountain cat is a small wild cat that lives in the Andes mountains of Peru, Bolivia, Northern Chile and northwestern Argentina. There have also been sightings of the cat at lower altitudes in the Mendoza province of Argentina. Although the Andean mountain cat was first described in 1865, it was not until 1997 that it was seen and photographed by ecologist and small wild cat specialist Jim Sanderson. The cat is currently listed as ENDANGERED on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Additional Resources:
Andean Mountain Cat Research

Andean Mountain Cat Pictures

Interesting Facts

The Andean mountain cat is similar in size to a domestic cat.  However, its thick fur and long tail make it look bigger. The cat’s fur is pale silver or ash-gray with isolated, hazel or orange-brown spots and stripes. Black rings can be found around the cat’s tail and limbs. Sometimes the cat is confused with another feline resident of the Andes, the Pampas cat (Leopardus pajeros)

The prey of the Andean mountain cat is believed to be rodents, including viscacha and chinchillas.


It is estimated that there are less than 2,500 Andean mountain cats living in the wild. Despite legislation protecting the cat in all four countries where it lives, the Andean mountain cat population has been on a steady decrease. Reasons for the decline include continued hunting, as well as habitat loss and loss of prey.


Ecologist Jim Sanderson took the first photos of an Andean mountain cat in the wild during the late 1990s. The cat is considered an endangered species due to habitat loss, agricultural growth, hunting and a reduction in prey.

Both rural Chileans and Bolivians have traditionally believed that if someone encounters a mountain cat it must be killed for spiritual power and to prevent bad luck.

Conservation Organizations & Programs



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3 Comments on "Andean Mountain Cat"

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3 years 9 months ago

I live in Missouri and saw the Andean Mountain Cat . I am POSITIVE I saw exactly that . I live in the woods between 2 forests, and it came running out of the woods a few feet in front of me. At first I thought it was just a big male cat, then it stopped and stared at me for just over a full minute . How could this be possible ?

Mark Stables
Mark Stables
2 years 11 months ago

2 days ago reports appeared of the “First photos” of Andean Cats, after one was phographed in Arequipa province – the first photos in Peru – of course photos have existed since the 1980s elsewhere!
-hace 2 dias reportes de las “primeras fotos” del gato andino salieron en Peru cuando tomaron fotos en la provincia perunana de Arequipa – por supuesto hay fotos desde otros paises desde los años 80`..