Jaguarundi, the otter cat
Cat of the Month ~ June 2012
The Jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi) is a small but stocky wild cat native to Central and South America. Jaguarundis are also believed to have been introduced in the U.S. state of Florida and have then migrated to the coastal regions of Alabama. However, sightings are rare and no findings of live or dead specimens have been documented.
The physical appearance of the Jaguarundi cat is perhaps the least cat-like of all the cats. It has short legs, an elongated body and a long tail, giving it an appearance somewhat like an otter or pine marten. For this reason, these animals are sometimes referred to as "otter cats." The ears are short and rounded. The coat is unspotted and uniform in color, with, at most, a few faint markings on the face and underside. The coat can be either blackish to brownish grey (grey phase) or foxy red to chestnut (red phase); individuals of both phases can be born in the same litter. The two color phases were once thought to represent two distinct species. In some Spanish speaking countries, the Jaguarundi is also called leoncillo, which means 'little lion'. Other common names for the Jaguarundi include: "gato colorado", "gato moro" and "tigrillo". These names are also applied to the Margay Cat, but the resemblance between these two distinct species is minimal.
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