7 interesting facts about the Geoffroy’s cat: it is the ghost of wildcats

Hangai Lilla

2024. June 1 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

One of the North American continent's most versatile predators is the Geoffroy's cat, named after French zoologist Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. This ferocious and skilful hunter is very rarely seen in the wild in its natural habitat, and as a result is rarely studied. That's why they call it the ghost of wildcats.


The world’s smallest wildcat, the Geoffroy’s cat still holds many interesting facts for us.

1.) They are at home everywhere

These kittens weigh about 3-5 kg and according to the Red List are not in endangered status. Indeed, their kingdom lasts as far as the eye can see, and sometimes even farther. They live and hunt in mountains, forests, savannahs, bush and grasslands.

2.) A real rarity in captivity

In captivity it is a real rarity, with just over 70 individuals living in zoos around the world. In Hungary, there is one pair in Nyíregyháza Zoo, who gave birth to a baby in 2020.

3.) Their furs are colour-changing

In the warmer, northern populations, the undercoat is darker, while in the cooler, southern populations it is silvery grey. The strangest Geoffroy’s cats are the ones that live in the wetter parts of the country, i.e. the muddy, wooded areas. They can be completely black. This helps them become invisible at night, making them even more effective hunters.

4.) Their feet are like models’

They have very long legs, which is very useful in many areas. For example, for those that live in wetter areas, it helps to keep them from sinking in floodplains. But it also helps them to climb trees, which is very useful when they are hunting or fleeing from predators.

In many cases, they have also been observed standing on their two hind legs to better observe the area around them.

5) They are similar to the serval in one respect

Although the serval lives in Africa, it shares a characteristic feature with the Geoffroy’s cat. Although the shape and size of their ears are different, both have a black back with a prominent white spot.

6) Poachers’ favourite

The primary habitat and hunting grounds of these cats are grasslands, so deforestation and human expansion have “less” impact on them. But poachers are keen to hunt them. Their fur is the second most traded in the world. Fortunately, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora makes it illegal to trade their fur in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, which has reduced the trade somewhat.

Geoffroy’s cat kittens.

7) Mama’s babies stay longer

They are essentially solitary, with males and females meeting only during the mating period. The litter usually contains 1-3 kittens and compared to domestic cats the kittens develop more slowly. Their eyes open around 18-19 days of age and they start eating solid food at 6-7 weeks. They start going hunting with their mum when they are 3 months old. They become independent at 8 months; females reach sexual maturity at 18 months and males at 2 years.

geoffroy-cat interesting facts about cats of interest serve wildcat

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