Here is a really nice tame margay cat picture. It is by Mark Low! on Flickr (a link to the original photo is at the base of the page). It is published with his permission. The reason why this margay is tame is because it was captured in a region of Panama (Central America) called Bocas del Toro when it was young. The idea was to sell the cat as a pet. I think this is not uncommon.
Margays are the size of domestic cats and they can be successfully tamed to become a pet. They are probably captured when kittens making it relatively easy to domesticate them. Not all small wild cat species are so suitable for taming. Apparently the leopard cat (the wild cat parent of the Bengal cat breed) is fiercely independent and not that suitable for taming although I know someone who tamed a first filial Bengal cat with difficulty.
The margay has also been extensively hunted for its fur; quite badly abused then, really, by people who live within the Margay range, which is essentially; Mexico, Central America and a large part of the northern section of South America.
There is little formal information about the domestication of the margay. I wonder if it is a threat that is more serious than people think. Nearly all discussions on margay conservation are concerned with prohibiting hunting for its pelt or habitat loss.
Habitat loss is major threat to the survival of the margay in the wild. It is sad to think that such a beautiful creature is so heavily persecuted by humankind.
The photographer of the picture says the coat is “incredibly soft”. That is why it has been so extensively exploited. In the past, it has been “subject to intense hunting pressure throughout its range”¹.
This margay is kept inside a thatched roof hut. I presume it is a full-time indoor cat. The purpose is to protect it from being poached by people in the wild and to stop the cat from hunting local prey.
To be honest I am not sure that that is a great argument because if it applies to this cat what about the other margays in the wild? And it sounds like a last desperate stand for the margay in the area. The photographer says there are none left in Punta Burica of Panama.
The Bocas del Toro region of Panama:
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- Original picture on Flickr
- Reference: Wild Cats Of The World by Mel and Fiona Sunquist.