The Andean Mountain cat lives in a similar area to the short-tail chinchilla and in the current range of the mountain vizcacha. These two animals are, therefore, its main prey. It’s diet overlaps with the Pampas cat. The mountain vizcacha in three studies was found to be the most frequent prey. This is a rodent of two genera (Lagidium and Lagostomus) in the family Chinchillidae.
In southern Bolivia, in two further studies, the vizcacha represented 52% and 43-53% of its prey. In northern Chile the vizcacha represented 44.1% of its prey. In a study on its diet in northern Argentina, small rodents were the most frequent prey animal at 37.3% followed specifically by the mountain vizcacha at 28%. In another study, in a location in northern Argentina, small mammals were the primary prey item consumed by the Andean Mountain cat at 93.3% as judged by analysis of scats. In this study remains of rodents of the genus Phyllotis (mice) were found in scats (76.9% of the samples).
The mountain vizcacha is the biggest prey item of the Andean Mountain cat and therefore probably contributes the most to its diet. This information comes from the IUCN Red List and is based upon a series of studies as stated. If you want to look up the studies I would suggest that you go to the IUCN Red List website or if you wish, leave a comment and I will provide the details for you.
In 2002 there was no or little information on the Andean Mountain cat’s feeding habits. Accordingly, it was believed at that time that the cat probably ate any small mammal, bird, or lizard that they could catch. In the Altiplano there is a diverse range of potential prey including several rodent species, hairy armadillos, mountain vizcachas and rabbits. There is a variety of ground dwelling birds as well in that area including several species of ducks, geese, earth creepers, seed snipes and wading birds.
It is probably fair to say that more could be learned about the feeding habits of the Andean mountain cat. It is an indictment of the lack of real concern about conservation that only a few people such as Jim Sanderson were involved in learning about these hard-to-study small wild cat species.
SOME MORE ON THIS CHARMING AND RELATIVELY FRIENDLY SMALL WILD CAT SPECIES: