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North and South American Cats

Facts and Photos of Lions, Tigers, Leopards, Cheetahs and Other Cats

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Puma - Puma concolor.

Puma - Puma concolor.

Photo © Ecliptic Blue / Shutterstock.

North and South American Cats

  • Pumas—Pumas, also known as mountain lions, catamonts, panthers or cougars, are large cats whose former range extended from coast to coast across North America. By 1960, they were declared extinct in most midwestern and eastern ranges.
  • Jaguar—The Jaguar is the New World's only representative of the Pantherinae (large cat subfamily). Jaguars resemble leopards but have shorter legs and a stockier, more powerful build. They are tan in color with dark rosettes with spots in the center of the rosettes.
  • Ocelot—The ocelot is nocturnal cat that lives in the grasslands, swamps, and forests of South and Central America. It has distinct markings of chain-like rosettes and spots and was prized for its fur in recent decades. Fortunately, the ocelot is now protected and its numbers are rebounding modestly.
  • Margay Cat—The margay cat inhabits South and Central America. It is a small cat of about 18-31in with a 13-20in tail. The margay is a superb climber and is capable of running headfirst down the trunk of a tree. It is classified as vulnerable and faces threats from habitat destruction and illegal hunting for its fur.
  • Jaguarundi Cat—The jaguarundi is an unusually stocky cat, short legs, long body, and a pointed snout. Its color varies depending on its habitat, from black in forests to pale gray or reddish brown in more exposed scrub areas. It is a daytime hunter and feeds on small mammals, birds, invertebrates and reptiles.
  • Canada Lynx—The Canada lynx has tufted ears and a 'bobbed' tail (similar to the bobcat but the tail of the Canada Lynx is entirely black whereas the bobcat's is black only at the tip). This nocturnal cat is well-adapted to dealing with snow due to its large feet.
  • Bobcat—The bobcat is native to North America and gets its name from its short 'bobbed' tail. It has a fringe of facial fur and ponted ears.
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