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.
Andean Mountain Cat Research
Andean Mountain Cat Pictures
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
Andean Cat Alliance
Coordinated action in South America for the conservation of the Andean cat and its habitat.
Cat Action Treasury (CAT)
CAT was created in 1995 to conserve the world’s 36 species of wild cat.
"...We play a leading role in advancing conservation of the big cats - tiger, lion, snow leopard, cheetah, leopard, jaguar and puma – as well as the rare and little known small cats – including marbled cat, clouded leopard, guiña, Andean cat, Asiatic golden cat, Borneo bay cat, flat-headed cat, black-footed cat and Pallas cat...CAT works closely with the IUCN SSC Cat Specialist Group, an international network of over 200 experts on wild cats. " Felidae Conservation Fund
Advances the conservation of the world’s 37 felidae species and their habitats through a combination of pioneering research, compelling education and state-of-the-art technology.
International Society for Endangered Cats (ISEC) Canada
A 100% volunteer organization specializing in small wild cat conservation with an extensive online database of wild cat information.
IUCN/SSC: Cat Specialist Group
Advancing the understanding and conservation of the world’s 36 wild living cat species.
"...The IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group brings together more than 200 of the world’s leading cat experts, including scientists, wildlife managers and conservationists from 50 countries who are dedicated to advancing the understanding and conservation of the world’s 36 wild living cat species...The Cat Specialist Group is active in many of its own initiatives as well, focusing on the development of tools for the assessment of the species’ status, for the compilation and distribution of intelligence and for supporting the work of its members..." Small Cat Conservation Alliance
SWCCF has two parts: Small Cat Conservation Alliance (SCCA) that supports current conservation efforts and Small Wild Cat Conservation Endowment Fund, a permanent endowment fund.
"...The mission of the Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundation is to ensure the survival of small wild cats and their natural habitats worldwide. This mission is achieved by working with local partners around the world to identify and mitigate threats to the world's small wild cats..." Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundation
The mission of the Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundation is to ensure the survival of small wild cats and their natural habitats worldwide.
Wildlife Conservation Network
Supports independent, community-based conseration efforts worldwide with a focus on protecting endangered species and preserving their natural habitats.