Are There Any Cat Breeds Native to Brazil?

Brazilian Shorthair

Brazil is one of the most biodiverse countries occupying half of South America’s landmass. It is home to the world’s biggest rainforest, the Amazon, and the biggest tropical wetland, the Pantanal. These ecosystems are home to some astonishing Brazilian cats in combination with the last leftovers of the Atlantic rainforest. In fact, Brazil’s wildlife is so diverse and rich that scientists are still discovering new species. You might hence wonder whether there are any cat breeds native to Brazil, whether wild or domestic. Here is a look at the cat breeds native to Brazil.

So, are there any cat breeds native to Brazil?

There is only one domestic cat breed that is native to Brazil. The Brazilian shorthair is a purebred cat dating back several centuries. Additionally, Brazil is home to many wild cat breeds, including the jaguar, pumas, ocelot, Jaguarundi, margay, and oncilla. Some of these wild cats are only spotted in Brazil. Read on for more details about the cat breeds native to Brazil.

Brazilian Shorthair

The Brazilian shorthair is the only domestic cat native to Brazil. According to The Spruce Pets, this is the first Brazilian internationally recognized breed. This rare cat is elegant and muscular, with a long tail that tapers at the end. It’s admired for its short, shiny coat and loved for its playful, friendly, and intelligent personality. Brazilian shorthair is agile and muscular while maintaining its cat-like beauty.


The Brazilian shorthair originates from the common street cats of Brazil. It is claimed that these cats first got into Brazil around 1500 CE aboard the ships of Portuguese sailors. Paulo Samuel Ruschi, an engineer, is the one who developed an interest in their genetics and appearance. With input and help from other cat breeders, Paulo started breeding Brazilian street cats in an attempt to create a breed. The World Cat Federation approved the Brazilian Shorthair as a pure cat breed in 1998. However, the breed is yet to be recognized by CFA or TICA.


Averagely, a healthy Brazilian shorthair weighs 8-12 pounds. The male cats can weigh over 20 pounds. According to Yummy Pets, Brazilian shorthair has big, pointed ears and equally big eyes. They have highly expressive and wide-set eyes. They have short and sleek fur with little undercoats, meaning they don’t shed much. In terms of color, Brazilian Shorthair can have any color that occurs naturally in felines, including white, black, brown, gray, cream, or red.

Any coat pattern is acceptable, including tabby, solid, tuxedo, tortoiseshell, calico, or bi-color. The coat pattern that is not acceptable in a purebred Brazilian shorthair is a darker face, tail, and legs typical of the Siamese cat. The life expectancy of the Brazilian shorthair is 12-15 years, but it is uncommon for the breed to outlive its average expectancy.

Behavioral Characteristics

Regarding its behavior characteristics, the Brazilian shorthair is an intelligent, loving, active, and good hunter. This large and active cat is a great breed for families. It has a playful nature and loves opportunities for interaction and play with humans and other pets such as household cats and dogs. It is a perfect breed as it needs attention, affection, and playtime. This cat breed is intelligent and curious and likes having sufficient time for exploring, perching, climbing, and observing. If you get a Brazilian shorthair, you should provide it with lots of toys to keep it occupied and some cat trees for climbing and exercise. Generally, a Brazilian shorthair is an active cat that likes to stay busy.

Maintenance And Care

Brazilian shorthair features a short and easy-to-care coat that makes it relatively low-maintenance. This makes it more suitable for busy families. Brushing once a week should be enough to keep your Brazilian shorthair’s coat clean and in great condition. However, the cat will not be happy if left alone for long; therefore, ensure your lifestyle leaves some time to spend with your feline. Also, remember to brush the cat’s teeth and keep its ears and nails in check. They quickly learn new things and like challenges making them a great breed to teach new tricks. Brazilian Shorthairs are street-smart, a characteristic they have retained from their ancestors. They are hence intelligent and sharp felines.

Common Health Issues

The Brazilian Shorthair is an active and robust breed without known breed-specific health issues. However, as a cat owner, you should check for common problems that might arise in any breed, such as ear infections and obesity. Also, remember that any cat may develop a health issue or disease during its lifetime, so ensure to take your cat for regular checkups with the vet. This will enable you to detect potential health issues before they get severe.

Wild Cat Breeds Found in Brazil

Brazil has many wild cat species. Some are endemic and native to Brazil, so they are not found anywhere else on earth. However, some are also found in other regions of the south or north America.



The magnificent jaguar is the national animal of Brazil and the only big cat in the country. The country offers the best place to site these charismatic cats worldwide. Jaguars are the third biggest cat in the world, weighing between 100 to 250 pounds and remarkably agile. Their fur has a tan to orange color with black rosettes. Jaguars are normally found in savannas, tropical rainforests, and grasslands. Their main location is the Brazilian Pantanal and the Amazon Basin. Thousands of jaguars are found under the tropical rainforest canopy and Pantanal wetland in Brazil.

Jaguars are apex predators at the top of the food chain and hence not preyed on by other animals. They mostly hunt fish, caimans, turtles, capybaras, deer, and other land animals. Jaguars prefer ambushing their prey at night using their mighty jaws that drive deep into the animal skulls. Also, unlike most cats, jaguars are formidable swimmers who hunt even in water. They are also great climbers that often climb trees to locate and ambush their prey. But ideally, the jaguar will take on its prey, including sloths, deer, tapir, and capybara, on the ground.



Pumas are known by many names, such as mountain lion, cougar, panther, etc. The wide name range is due to its wide geographic range throughout South America. These cats feature characteristic sandy-colored fur and creamy belly. Adult cougars weigh up to 135 pounds. Pumas are occasionally found in southern Pantanal, Brazil, around the eco-lodges between the cities of Caramba and Campo Grande.

Pumas are the second biggest cats in North and South America after the jaguar. Like the jaguar, it catches its prey by ambush and conveniently climbs into the rainforest canopy when searching for its prey. They often hunt small deer, coyotes, and other small animals in the early morning or at night. However, pumas have some common characteristics with domestic cats, such as the inability to roar. Also, they have plain coats that lack the rosettes of a typical jaguar.



At around double the size of a domestic cat, the ocelot is the biggest small cat in North and South America. According to Beardsley Zoo, these elegant cats are highly adaptable and live in a wide range of habitats, including savanna, mangrove swamps, and Amazon Rainforests. They have a gorgeous spotted coat of creamy, yellowish, tawny, gray, or reddish-gray fur covered with black markings. The luxurious coat is similar to that of a jaguar but with stripes and spots instead of rosettes. In the past, ocelots were hunted for their elegant coat. However, today they are protected across the majority of their range.

Ocelots are heavier than jaguarundis but relatively similar in length, measuring between 55 to 100 cm and the tails between 25 and 42 cm. Weighing around 24 to 35 pounds, ocelots are nocturnal cats that normally hunt fish, iguanas, rabbits, frogs, and rodents. They can also climb trees to stalk birds and monkeys. Similar to the jaguar, ocelots are good swimmers. During the day, they are solitary animals that spend most days resting in dens under large trees.

Seeing an ocelot in the wild is challenging unless you know where to find them. The best place to find an ocelot in the wild is Fazenda San Francisco in southern Pantanal, Brazil. Fazenda’s rice paddies attract many rodents, and the ocelots come for their prey. In addition to the rodents, the area has irrigation channels that take water from a nearby river to the fields filled with aquatic vegetables and fish. The ocelots have plenty of food, and their relaxed attitude enables some close encounters.



The Jaguarundi is one of the unusual wild cats found in South America. The small wild cats are native to South America and southern North America, with an extensive range of habitats, including the Amazon Basin. While they are notoriously hard to see in the wild, Brazil is one of the most reliable places, such as the Emas National Park. The Jaguarundi has a long slender body, short legs, and long tail. Jaguarundi grows to a length of around 54 to 77 cm, with the tails around 31 and 60 cm, so not significantly larger than an adult domesticated cat. Its fur coating is uniform in color, either chestnut, grey, or black. An adult weighs around 8 kg.

Unlike most cats, the Jaguarundi is a diurnal animal. This means that they are more active during the day than at night. The cats are great climbers but prefer hunting on the ground, preying on anything they might catch. Jaguarundi is popular as an incredible jumper who jumps up to 6 feet when hunting its prey. Typically, these cats prey on small reptiles, rodents, and ground-feeding birds. The cats move low and swiftly to successfully hunt rabbits and small rodents. They also produce a wide range of vocalizations, such as yaps, purrs, bird-like chirps, and whistles.



The margay is similar to a bigger ocelot. However, margays have a relatively shorter head, longer legs and tails, and larger eyes. One of the notable differences between an ocelot and a margay is that the margay has a superior climbing ability. According to CatSG, they are one of the cat species with flexible ankles that enable them to climb down the tree’s head first. These cats can also jump up to four meters horizontally. Margays are significantly agile and highly suited to chasing monkeys and birds in the trees, unlike the ocelot that mostly hunts on the ground. Most of these cats spend most of their lives on trees and have adapted to living their life on treetops.



Also known as the tigrillo, the oncilla is another wild cat in Brazil. This cat is similar to the margay and ocelot but the smallest in size. Although a bit longer than the average domesticated cat, it weighs relatively less at around 1.5 to 3 kg. Similar to a domestic cat, an oncilla stalks its prey from a range and then pounces on it. It mostly hunts small birds and mammals such as tree frogs, lizards, and eggs. Today, oncillas are highly endangered of all the cats in the Amazon Rainforest. This is because of the highly prized pelts that make them a perfect target for poachers. Habitat loss and deforestation further worsen the delicate situation of this beautiful, small wild cat.

Bottom Line

These are the cat breeds that are native to Brazil. The Brazilian shorthair is the only domestic cat native to Brazil. This is a new and exciting cat breed with many possibilities. Although the breed is not as recognizable as other breeds, they have unique charm due to their curiosity, intelligence, and energy. They are perfect pets and are slowly getting accepted as their popularity grows. As reviewed above, Brazil is also a native home to several wild cats. So, what are your favorite Brazilian cats? Have you ever seen them, or are you planning a future trip? Feel free to comment below.

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