There are many types of mountain cats. The Andean Mountain Cat is one of them. The scientific name of the Andean Mountain cat is Leopardus jacobita. It is a small wild cat native to the Andes mountain. Andean Mountain Cat has been listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. As per the stats, there are around 2,500 Andean Mountain Cats that exist in the world.
This article will give an overview of Andean mountain cat facts, habitat, size, pet, lifespan, fun facts, scientific name, and hunting. It is not a pet cat and good to see in the wild.
Andean mountain cat profile
Since the past, Andean Mountain Cat has been treated as a sacred animal by Aymara and Quechua sects. It is because of their awe provoking appearance, and mysterious behavior.
The history of the Andean Mountain Cat is very old. Emilio Cornelia described the cat for the first time and named the cat in honor of Jacobite Mantegazza.
We come to know about the Andean Mountain cat in the form of museum skins and skulls. In fact, due to rarity, you will not be able to find the cat so frequently in the wild. DIfferent causes and dangers have caused this species to extinct.
Size and Look
The size of the Andean Mountain Cat is comparatively small than other common cats we see. It has pale silvery gray slender furs all over the body that make the cat with an aristocratic look.
On the whole body of the Andean Mountain Cat, you will find brown or orange stripes along the body, with darkish grey bars all through the chest and front legs.
The Andean mountain cat has rosette-like spots on the edges. It has a pale belly with many darkish spots. The tail of the Andean Mountain Cat is thick, long, and banded with darkish rings in a similar gap.
The Andean mountain cat has an ashy-gray fur, a grey head, ears, and face, that gives the cat a very attractive and tiger-like look.
The areas across the lips and cheeks are white; with two darkish brown traces running from the corners of the eyes throughout the cheeks.
There are some black spots on the forelegs of the Andean Mountain Cat. It also has yellowish-brown blotches on the flanks. The limbs of the cat is encompassed with a couple of blackish rings.
The long bushy tail of the cat has 6–9 darkish brown to black rings in the same distance. The markings of young cats are much darker and smaller than these of their adult mates.
The skulls of the adult species vary in size from 100.4 to 114.8 mm (3.95 to 4.52 in) and are bigger than these of any other pet cat.
The species has a black nose and lips as well as round ears. The hair is 40–45 mm (1.6–1.8 in) long on the back and tail.
The footprints are circular up to 4 cm (1.6 in) long and 3.5 cm (1.4 in) wide. Its pads are lined with furry hair.
The top of the shoulder is about 36 cm (14 in). The weight of the cat is as much as 5.5 kilograms (12 lb) on average.
Distribution and habitat
The Andean mountain cat lives in the deep of the Andes.
According to the fact, the cat lives at the height from 1,800 m (5,900 ft) along the southern Andes to over 4,000 m (13,000 ft) in Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, and central Peru.
They live in the arid, arduous, rocky, and steep environment.
The research founds that the cat is found at a density of 7 to 12 species every 100 square km at a height of about 4,200 m (13,800 ft).
The Andes habitat is separated by deep valleys and colonies. Due to these challenges, the extent of the range is found very low.
The Andean mountain cat lives on mountain chinchillas, which has also been very rare due to indiscriminate business. This scarcity of food is causing the cat to hardly survive in the lap of nature.
Competitors with different predators
Apart from the Andean cat, the Andes mountain is also a habitat of as many as 6 other carnivore species, and two other cat species, the pampas cat, and the puma.
The puma is a big predator, whereas the Andean Mountain Cat and Pampas Cat are medium-sized predators with similar in behavior and strength. These challenges for food and the position in the food chain are a big reason for the cat to live on.
All these carnivores compete for hunting in the same territory in the Andes. Even, they used to hunt similar types of prey, the mountain viscacha, scientific name Lagidium viscacia, which is a kind of medium-sized rodent.
The viscacha makes up 93.9% of the biomass consumed within the Andean cat’s diet whereas the Pampas Cat depends upon it for 74.8% of its biomass consumption on an average.
Each of those cats depends upon a particular species of prey in order to make up a big portion of their dietary requirement. In some areas, the mountain viscacha makes up 53% of the Andean cat’s prey.
The cat loves to pray alone and in a particular interval. Though there is other prey for the cat apart from the mountain viscacha, they are comparatively bigger in size and difficult to catch.
Both Andean and the Pampas Cat prey in the deep of night and dark. The research says they mostly prey on a moonless night as well in the full moon.
According to the inhabitants, Andean cats are found in coupled pairs with their litters. The mating season for the Andean cat is during July and August.
Sometimes, the kittens come out during April and October, which implies the mating season extends up to November and December.
1-2 kittens are born in the spring and summer. This is the high time when the food supplies are also in abundance, compared to any dry seasons.
Threats and conservation
As e have told earlier, the Andean cat species is endangered on the IUCN Red List. Several issues are caused for this crisis.
Loss of habitat is a major reason that is causing them to succumb.
There are several other causes, such as smuggling of the species, lack of food, and hostile change of the environment to cause less breeding, etc.
Biologists have tried to collaborate in efforts to protect the species throughout 4 international locations. The Andean Cat Conservation Committee has been formed.