Very few wild cats are as good-looking or remarkable as the ocelot. They have been known to inspire people with their magical fur markings. For this reason, ocelots are caught and sold to the highest bidder for a tidy sum of money.

However, some people argue that Ocelots are meant to Roam Free as wild cats and keeping them in captivity is just pure animal cruelty, not to mention that it is illegal to keep ocelots at home.

No matter how gorgeous or remarkable these animals are, they should never be kept as house pets, as this is a form of animal cruelty.  

What you need to know about Ocelots.

Ocelots are native to the America and can be found between Northern-Argentina and the Southern USA. Ocelots are predators and belong to the leopard-cat family.

They’re one of the most popular cat breeds and definitely the largest. However, humans have been catching and taming ocelots for years, harming the global population.

Some intersesting facts about the Ocelot:

  • Ocelots (Leopardus pardalis) are small wild-cats native to the Americas. They are found in a wide range of habitats, including rainforests, savannas, and dry scrublands;
  • Ocelots are about the same size as domestic cats, but have longer legs, a longer tail, and a more robust build. They can grow up to 3.5 feet (1 meter) in length, including the tail, and can weigh up to 35 pounds (16 kilograms).
  • Ocelots are known for their beautiful coat, which is marked with black spots and stripes and has a base color ranging from light yellow to reddish–brown.
  • These cats are solitary and mostly active at night. They are excellent climbers and swimmers and are known to prey on a wide range of animals, including birds, rodents, reptiles, and amphibians.
  • Ocelots are classified as “Near-Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to habitat loss and poaching.
  • In the past, ocelots were hunted for their fur, which was used to make clothing and other items. Today, hunting ocelots is illegal in many countries and they are protected by law.
  • Despite their protected status, ocelots are still at risk due to habitat-destruction and other human activities. Efforts are being made to conserve and protect these beautiful animals and their habitats.

Can i keep an Ocelots as a Pets in the US?

It is generally not legal to keep ocelots as pets in the United States. Ocelots are a protected species; and it is illegal to own one without a special permit from the U.S. – Fish and Wildlife Service.

These permits usually are only issued for educational, scientific, or exhibition purposes, and are not granted to individuals who want to keep an ocelot as a pet.

In addition, very few private-households are likely to meet the requirements for keeping an oxelot in a species-appropriate manner. These include an outdoor enclosure of at least 50 square-meters, and an indoor enclosure of at least 20 square-meters. Anything less would mean captivity for the nocturnal hunter.

Taming an ocelot would require significant time and effort, and the animal may still exhibit wild behaviors and instincts even after being tamed.

Ocelots are wild animals and are not suitable for domestication. It is best to observe ocelots and other wild animals from a distance, rather than attempting to keep them as pets.

© State Laws for Keeping Exotic Cats as Pets – Embedded from


Animals like ocelots love to range free, which is why they are primarily found in the rainforest and the mountain regions of America.

Ocelots are nocturnal and solitary animals and can become highly aggressive and depressed if taken captive. In the most States of the US; keeping wild cats at home is illegal, and the action is considered animal cruelty.

Wildcats as Status Symbols

Unfortunately, many people still keep wildcats as pets despite efforts by the government to prevent this occurrence. Ocelots are considered pets and fall under the status animal category of pets.

Wild cats like ocelots are being hunted at an alarming rate, with many of those cases going unreported. Wildcats should not be domesticated; it is not in their nature to be tamed.

People who collect wild cats want something unique, and they believe a feral cat will give them that. They try to tame the cats, which does nothing for their natural environment as they’re forced to stop reproducing in the wild, which automatically affects their population. 

The ocelot specie has become an endangered specie in the past, because of the actions of those who hunt them to keep them as a status symbol. If this continues, this wild cat will gradually become extinct. 

Ocelot Protection Laws

The ocelot is classified as a species of “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature – (IUCN) due to threats such as habitat destruction; hunting and traffic accidents.

Despite having a large range, various ocelot populations are declining in many parts of their range. Humans have had a long history with ocelots, with the Aztec and Incan civilizations both having associations with these animals.

However, it is generally not legal to keep Ocelots as pets in the United States, and it is best to observe these wild animals from a distance rather than attempting to domesticate them.

Ocelot Population

The measures to protect the ocelot population have helped revive it after years of being endangered. The Washington Convention has made sure of that, though ocelots still have to contend with the human threat. 

The species population of ocelots has recovered to some extent in the recent years, after the extraordinary cat was previously considered endangered.

The major problem facing the ocelot population today is the destruction of their habitat. Car accidents and food-shortages are some of the ills that affect ocelot habitat today.

This is why we have a collective responsibility to protect these animals by ensuring that they are NOT kept captive in the guise of domestication. 

Ocelot in the wild

Summary Ocelots Belong in the Wild. 

Keeping tigers as pets used to be fashionable a few years ago, which explains their population decline; the same thing is happening with ocelots today. Ocelots are not pets to be cuddled; they belong in the wild, which is where they should be.

Ocelots should NOT be taken out of their natural habitat for any reason, especially not as a sign of prestige to stroke anybody’s ego.

Harboring ocelots at home, away from their natural-habitat, is illegal in the most States of the US, and punishable by law, so if you find anyone doing that, it is in the interest of the ocelot to report them to the authorities.

Read also: Free Roamers: Let your Cat outside safely

Categories: Cats


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