Wildcat or Wild Cat?

Recently I received a cat picture from a local reader. Taken by an automatic game camera on the photographer’s property near the Attoyac River, this critter is interesting and unusual. It’s definitely a cat but the question is; what kind?

There are two possibilities. The first and most likely is that the animal is a domestic Bengal Cat, a cross between an Asian Leopard Cat and an ordinary domestic feline, weighing between 9 and 20 pounds. The second option is that the unknown cat is an Ocelot. A bobcat isn’t even a remote possibility. Bobcats’ tails are much shorter than the animal’s in this photograph.

Three “experts” have examined the game cam picture and they believe the animal is a Bengal Cat. But the owner of the game cam feels it is an ocelot. What do you think?

Ocelots normally occur in South and Central America and Mexico as well as Trinidad. They are a little over 3 feet long without their 1 ½ foot tail, for a total nose to tail tip of about 4 ½ feet. They weigh 25-35 pounds. They have been reported as far north as Texas, but just in brushy areas along the Mexican border. Even there, estimates put their population at not over a couple of dozen. Once common is south and southeast Texas, since the early 1900s they are a rare and probably disappearing species in this state. Still, there is a remote possibility that an ocelot has snuck into deep East Texas.

Check out the pictures here of the game cam cat, a Bengal Cat, and an Ocelot and see what you think. If you have pictures of felines that look like these, email me a copy. I’d like to find out how widespread they are.

Bengal Cats make great pets, and if you’d like to know more about them, go to the International Bengal Cat Society website. Or do a Google search for Bengal Cats. You will find plenty of images along with a lot of information on them. A search for Asian Leopard Cats and Ocelot will also provide interesting reading and viewing.

In any case, East Texas fields and forests never cease to be amazing and puzzling. Perhaps you can help answer the question about our catty little visitors.

Dr. Risk is a professor emeritus in the College of Forestry and Agriculture at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. Content © Paul H. Risk, Ph.D. All rights reserved, except where otherwise noted. Click paulrisk2@gmail.com to send questions, comments, or request permission for use.