Are ocelots dangerous?

Well, yes, I would say ocelots can be dangerous for the following reasons:

  • They are wild cats and therefore unsocialised to humans. They’ll be fearful of humans and may attack defensively.
  • They are a medium-sized cat, roughly the size of a bobcat. Most weigh between 8-10 kilograms (22 pounds). That’s quite large. Some are larger. An ocelot killed in Texas weighed about 45 pounds (20 kilograms).
  • They are extremely agile climbers and leapers.
  • They are strong.
Ocelot in Sonora just south of Arizona
Ocelot in Sonora just south of Arizona. Screnshot from video which is a camera trap video.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

A cat can be described as dangerous if they have the ability to do harm if they attack. An ocelot may attack defensively under certain circumstances and they are strong enough to do harm. Domestic cats are strong enough to do harm and the ocelot is around twice the size.

I am sure an ocelot could cause a person quite a nasty injury if the encounter went wrong.

Although, normally, an ocelot would avoid people such as an encounter in the wild (if you were lucky enough to see one). However, under certain circumstances an ocelot may be forced into close proximity with a person when they might become dangerous.

The key factor is the lack of socialisation. A domesticated ocelot would be far less dangerous, clearly. But even then, in play, common sense dictates that they could scratch or bite hard enough to cause harm. However, I am sure that there are cases of relatively friendly, domesticated ocelots living relatively amicably in someone’s home as a pet of sorts. Although I’d never recommend the ocelot as a pet. It won’t work for 99.9% of people.

Ocelots generally attack prey weighing less than ten percent of their bodyweight. Occasionally they attack larger prey such as deer and anteaters. This provides an insight into their ability to cause harm.

Ocelot plays with dog at Peruvian rescue center
Ocelot plays with dog at Peruvian rescue center

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