Well, I have learned that melanistic kodkods are not uncommon. However, I guess that the kodkod itself is uncommon! This is a pretty rare small wild cat species in Chile. The name ‘kodkod’ comes from the Araucanian Indian name for this cat species. However, in Chile and Argentina it is called ‘gūina’. It is genetically close to Geoffroy’s cat. It is the smallest wild cat species in the Western Hemisphere. It is about the size of a tiny house cat at 1.5 kilograms to 2.8 kilograms. This is 3.3 pounds to 6.2 pounds. Indeed, at the top end of their weight they are still smaller than a standard-sized adult domestic cat which weigh around 8-10 pounds.
There are probably no adult domestic cats weighing 3.3 pounds.
This is, then, a diminutive wild cat and when melanistic it has a passing resemblance to the British Shorthair with its dense coat and flattish face. The black kodkod loses all those bright facial markings so typical of small wild cat species.
However, if this melanistic kodkod that we see in the photo had been photographed in bright sunlight the dark coat markings would have been visible. They are the ghost markings of melanistic cats. We seem something similar on black panthers.
Below are two pictures, one of the normal coloured and marked kodkod and the other a melanistic version.
The experts don’t know how many are left in the wild. The IUCN Red List (which should now) wildly state that there are between 5,980 and 92,092!! That’s looks like a typo to me. I would expect the world population of this cat species to be in the low, single digit thousands and decreasing as are all wild species.
The melanistic version of cats is caused by a mutated, recessive or dominant gene, I believe, dependent on the cat species. The word ‘melanism’ is taken from the name of the pigment in the hair strands that produces the colour: very dark brown to black, ‘melanin’, which is also called eumelanin.
There are records of quite a few wild cats of various species being melanistic. The bobcat and serval can be melanistic for example. The classic melanistic wild cat is the black panther, the black leopard.
Below are some more articles on the kodkod.