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Big Cats - Ocelot

( Originally Published 1936 )

The Ocelot is considerably smaller than the clouded leopard, averaging perhaps twenty-five pounds in weight. It is found in both North and South America, and has a somewhat extensive range —as far north as Arkansas and southward to Patagonia. The short, soft fur is beautifully marked, the ground colour a light silvery-grey or fawn over which runs an irregular arrangement of spots and lengthwise stripings. The form, however, is not particularly graceful, as the body is very long and thin and rather shapeless, the tail short and carried in a stiff manner, unlike the gracefully curved tails of many cats. It is an extremely agile cat, and a good climber of trees, in which it procures most of its food—birds, usually, and when possible, monkeys.

The Ocelot has certain characteristics that distinguish it from other cats—the broad, fleshy tip to the end of the nose, which, instead of being dark, is a light pinkish-grey, and the eyes, instead of being the usual light yellow colour, are a very dark brown, almost black.

It resents captivity, and, like many of the smaller cats, is usually savage, though there are instances of better-natured individuals. As a rule, it lies closely in a corner, or else paces nervously up and down its cage, often uttering the peculiar long-drawn growl characteristic of this animal.

The Ocelot has much the same general range as the jaguar, and is really not unlike a small edition of that animal, though it differs somewhat in colour and in the shape of the markings.

Of still smaller size, but closely allied in form to the Ocelot, is the Margay (Felis tigrina) found in certain parts of South America.

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