Geoffroy’s Cat is a very skittish inhabitant of the South American forests and not much is known about the cat’s lifestyle in the wild. They look quite similar to house cats, and if interbred, kittens are the so-called “safari cats”. Trying to interbreed them with house cats wasn’t that easy at first – in Germany there was a Geoffroy’s cat male who killed all house cats that were put in his cage.
Geoffroy cat’s body is usually 45 – 75 cm long, with a 25 – 35 cm long tail. The colouration depends on the area the cat lives in, northern populations usually have yellowish brown fur with many small, black spots, while southern populations are usually silvery gray. Geoffroy’s cat holds a very close resemblance to house cats and sometimes it can be hard to tell them apart.
These predatory mammals live in forests, although they try to avoid thickets. They feel comfortable in rocky areas high above sea level and in Argentina the Geoffroy’s cat is known as “The mountain cat”, as they live in areas as high as 3300 metres above sea level. Geoffroy’s cat is an agile climber and it spends most of its time in the trees, quickly moving through them with the help of the sharp claws. These cats are solitary and they maintain their own territory, which they mark with a special scent.
As all cats, the Geoffroy’s cat is a nocturnal predator that hunts at night. They soundlessly move through the area, looking for prey – most often small mammals and birds, sometimes also fish. Geoffroy’s cat attacks by surprise, killing swiftly with a bite in the neck. Unlike large cats (lions, tigers and others), who can eat one third of their body mass during one feeding, the Geoffroy’s cat can’t eat that much and therefore has to hunt every day if not twice a day. As all cats, they have excellent hearing and even the smallest sound can give away the potential prey’s location to the cat.
Geoffroy’s cats are typical solitary animals and only meet other individuals during the mating period. After copulation the female drives the partner away and they both return to solitary lives. Gestation period is 64 – 74 days and 1-3 kits are born. The female finds a proper hiding place just before giving birth, most often in a rock gap. Kittens are born blind and completely helpless, and they rely solely on their mother for survival, as she feeds and protects them from predators and males, who would tear the kittens apart at first opportunity.
The kittens keep developing steadily, and when they open their eyes and can walk, the mother starts teaching them to hunt. They leave the mother and start solitary lives a few months later. Geoffroy’s cats can live up to 11 years in captivity, less in wild.