The Oncilla, also known as the little spotted cat, tigrillo, or tiger cat, is a small spotted cat. The oncilla is a close relative of the ocelot and the margay. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the oncilla as vulnerable. The chief threats to these felines are deforestation and poaching.
The oncilla resembles the margay and the ocelot. But it is smaller, with a slender build and narrower muzzle. It grows to 38 to 59 centimeters (15 to 23 in) long, plus a 20 to 42 centimeters (7.9 to 16.5 in) tail. While this is somewhat longer than the average domestic cat, Leopardus tigrinus is generally lighter, weighing 1.5 to 3 kilograms (3.3 to 6.6 lb).
The fur is thick and soft, ranging from light brown to dark ochre, with numerous dark rosettes across the back and flanks. The underside is pale with dark spots and the tail is ringed. The backs of the ears are black with bold ocelli. The rosettes are black or brown, open in the center, and irregularly shaped. The legs have medium-sized spots tapering to smaller spots near the paws. This coloration helps the oncilla blend in with the mottled sunlight of the tropical forest understory. The oncilla's jaw is shortened, with fewer teeth, but with well-developed carnassials and canines.
Oncillas are typically distributed from Costa Rica through Northern Argentina, and show a strong preference for montane forest. They are usually found in elevations higher than those of the margay or ocelot. They have been found in habitats as high as 4500m in Colombia, in the Andean highlands in Ecuador and Peru, and in the subtropical forest highlands in Brazil. They have also been identified in cerrado and scrubland environments.
This cat eats small mammals, lizards, birds, eggs, invertebrates, and the occasional tree frog. Occasionally, the cat will eat grasses.
The oncilla is a primarily terrestrial animal, but is also an adept climber. Like all cats, the oncilla is an obligate carnivore, requiring meat for survival. The oncilla stalks its prey from a distance, and once in range, it pounces to catch and kill the prey. They are generally nocturnal, but in areas such as Caatinga, where their main food source consists of diurnal lizards, they are more likely to be active during the day. Young oncillas have been observed to purr, while adults are known to make short, gurgling calls when close to one another.