Are ocelots considered big cats?

As the ocelot is a medium-sized cat, roughly the size of a bobcat they are not considered to be big cats. The phrase “big cats” refers to either cats that are big and/or a group of cats that roar and which, incidentally, are also big. This group of roaring cats is the leopard, lion, tiger and jaguar.

Most ocelots weigh 8-10 kg. However, a 45 pounds (20 kg) ocelot is on record. It was reported in a journal in 1951 by WB Davis, Unusual record of the ocelot in Texas.

Ocelot Facts For Kids
Ocelot Facts For Kids
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The ocelot is a heavily spotted cat with quite a short tail and rounded ears. The fur is short and sleek lying close to the body. Males are slightly bigger than females and in some places in South America the ocelot is known locally as the manigordo which in English means “fat hands”. This is because it’s forepaws are much larger than its hindpaws. This information comes from ET Seton in Lives of game animals (1929).

It might interest Americans that there are fossil records of ocelots from Florida and Arizona. Historically ocelots were found as far north as Arkansas and Arizona in North America. In 2002 it was said that the distribution extended to southern Texas in America. You might be lucky and see one in Central America, Mexico but they are largely in South America.

You might also be interested to know that it takes an average of 12.9 ocelot skins to make a fur coat and the coat may sell for as much as US $40,000. This information comes from LR McMahan in The international Trade in Cats of the World: Biology, Conservation and Management. It was published in 1986.

Ocelot coat 1957 - Photographer Gert Kruetschmann
Ocelot coat 1957 – Photographer Gert Kruetschmann

In 2002 there were conservation efforts to protect the ocelot in Texas and a resident population was established using translocation. An adult male and two females were translocated to an area on the western side of Laguna Atascosa in 1988.

The latest information that I have regarding the presence of the ocelot in America states that it is present in Arizona and Texas on the Mexican border. I don’t know whether they are still present. The dates of the assessments are 2011 and 2012. There were two isolated subpopulations in the southern tip of Texas according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service (2010) and researchers said that they were present in Arizona and this research is dated 2011 as stated.

The ocelot is not considered to be in jeopardy of extinction and is classified as Least Concern by the people who know which is the IUCN Red List. Although once again the latest information is six years old! I don’t think that’s very good and no doubt things have changed over those six years.

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