The commonest wild cat of South America, Geoffroy's cat (also spelled by some as Geoffrey's cat) alongside puma, is one of the most southerly of all cats. Discovered by the nineteenth century French naturalist Geoffroy St Hilaire, it is nearly the size of a domestic cat with length nearing two feet (excluding a one foot tail) and weight around 5-10 lbs. Oncifelis Geoffroyi, it is seen in countries of Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina and Paraguay.
Color and size vary through its range. The northern cats are smaller and have a reddish/yellow base color whereas the cats in south of their range are larger with a grayish fur. Coat is marked by small dark spots that coalesce in upper body, neck and face to form stripes. Undersides and chin are lighter and tail has black bands. Eyes are set low with ears being black at the back with a central white spot.
A solitary, primarily nocturnal cat, the Geoffroy's cat is a versatile hunter and preys on a variety of animals including birds, small mammals, insects and fish. They are good swimmers and agile climbers and are often seen residing in trees, preferring a habitat of underbrush as seen in tropical rain forests.
Attempts at breeding the Geoffroy's cat with domestic felines have been largely unsuccessful. In the wild, gestation lasts nearly two and a half months after which two to three kittens are born that mature at a prodigious rate, being able to stand at four days of age and climb trees at few weeks. Females are the sole parents and take extra care in choosing the birthplace. Totally mobile at six weeks, kittens gain independence at eight months. Owing to the abundance of prey, rapid maturation of kittens and small individual ranges of Geoffroy's cat in the wild, it is believed to be one of the most populous of all wild cats in southern hemisphere - however it is also the most hunted - with nearly 150,000 pelts traded annually. Though not endangered at the moment it may soon be!