Little Kitty – Kodkod

If you have never loved and been loved in return by a cat or other pet, I would argue that you have never really lived. The love you feel for a cat and the love that a cat gives to you is among the truest and purest form that love can take. When you experience that love, you become a better person with a greater capacity to share that love with others in your life.
I have very recently lost the light of my life, Elly, the cat that has been with me for 18 years. She went on her own time out in the garden where she loved to be and had loving support all the way. I have never missed anyone so much and the pain of her death is still raw. But that pain comes from my love for her. I am so thankful for the time I was given with her and will always love her infinitely. She was the most special friend that anyone could ever have and I am glad that she went peacefully and didn’t have to suffer.
This is for Elly. I will love you forever, little girl!

The kodkod (Leopardus guigna) is the smallest wild cat in the Americas, and rivals several other species for the title of smallest cat in the world. This tiny cat barely reaches 6 pounds (smaller than the average house cat) and lives in the montane areas of Chile and a small portion of Argentina. It prefers dense undergrowth in its moist, temperate evergreen forest habitat, and can be found up to the tree line at around 6,300 feet. Although this cat is usually brownish yellow with black spots, melanism is common. The paws are large with black pads and its ears are rounded with a white spot on the back of each one. The kodkod’s short, bushy tail, small frame, and petite facial features give it the appearance of a kitten, even when it is a full grow adult.

There is still not much known about this small cat, and its populations are dwindling. An estimated 10,000 cats are left in the wild, no single population exceeding 2,000 individuals. Kodkods are sometimes killed for raiding chicken coops or accidentally caught in fox traps. The cats are also illegally trapped for their fur. Perhaps the biggest threat to the kodkod, though, is habitat loss and fragmentation. Kodkods don’t do well in deforested areas. They need at least a thick ground cover such as scrub to survive, and stick exclusively to the forested corridors around developed or farmed areas.

Kodkod held by a biologist:

In contrast to other cats, kodkods are equally active at night and during the day. Around humans, however, they are strictly nocturnal. They appear in areas where there are high numbers of small, mouse sized prey and not many larger predators. This relative lack of competition gives them the opportunity to flourish on the abundance of food and raise their one to three kittens.

There are many conservation laws and programs in place to protect this special little cat and its close relatives like the oncilla and Geoffroy’s cat. We treat our pets as family and give them all the love we have, doing whatever we can to support them. Why can’t we show wild cats this same love? They’re really not that different.

References:
1. “Kodkod.” Felidae Conservation Fund. Felidae Conservation Fund, 2013. Web. 22 July 2015. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.felidaefund.org%2F%3Fq%3Dspecies-kodkod>.

2. “Guigna Facts.” Big Cat Rescue. Bigcatrescue.org, 15 Mar. 2015. Web. 22 July 2015. <http%3A%2F%2Fbigcatrescue.org%2Fkodkod-guigna-facts%2F>.

3. “Kodkod.” International Society for Endangered Cats (ISEC) Canada. ISEC Canada, 2014. Web. 22 July 2015. <http://www.wildcatconservation.org/wild-cats/south-america/kodkod/&gt;.

4. Napolitano, C., Gálvez, N., Bennett, M., Acosta-Jamett, G., and Sanderson, J. “Leopardus Guigna (Chilean Cat, Guiña, Kodkod).” Red List. International Union for the Conservation of Nature, 2015. Web. 22 July 2015. <http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/15311/0&gt;.

Photo and Video Links:

1. http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/19f63e2x0w2a8jpg/original.jpg

2. http://cdn1.arkive.org/media/5A/5A8BB63F-15B3-4790-BD8C-648E9DEE9C98/Presentation.Large/Guigna-being-held-by-scientist.jpg

3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFA6hxfnVjM

4. http://d.ibtimes.co.uk/en/full/1360845/chile-cat.jpg

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