Helping Guide Bengal Cat Owners

Comparing the Asian Leopard Cat and the Ocelot: Which Is Right for You?

Asian leopard cats and ocelots have a lot in common. But when it comes to the differences between these cats, there are only two main ones:

Ocelots are twice as large as Asian leopard cats – the former can weigh 35 pounds, while the latter rarely weigh over 15. Both species are wild cats, but they inhabit different areas. Asian leopard cats can be found throughout Asia and ocelots live from southern Texas to northern Argentina.

While it is possible to keep either of these wonderful cats as a pet, there are a few extremely important things that you would have to keep in mind.

Asian Leopard Cat vs Ocelot – Key Differences

There are just a few main differences between these two beautiful animals.

  • An ocelot is considerably bigger than an Asian leopard cat. While the latter usually weighs between 8 and 15 pounds, an ocelot can weigh up to 35 pounds.
  • These wild cats live in different parts of the world. As the name suggests, the Asian leopard cat can be found mainly in continental South, Southeast, and East Asia. An ocelot is native to the territory of the Southwestern United States through northern Argentina.

Asian Leopard Cat vs Ocelot – Similarities

Ocelots and Asian leopard cats are similar in a lot of ways. In fact, it might be quite challenging for a non-professional to distinguish between the two at a glance.


The most obvious thing that the two cats have in common is their exotic appearance. They have big eyes and, unlike a lot of other wild species, have ears with rounded tips.

However, it’s mainly their gorgeous coats that make them look like one another. These cats have short fur with black rosettes, spots, and even stripes. Their undersides are usually lighter in color or simply white.

The color of the coat can range from brown to reddish-grey, and grey.

Read: How to Give Up a Cat for Adoption? Step by Step


Both ocelots and Asian leopard cats are amazing climbers and skillful swimmers (even though they prefer to not go into the water). They are also excellent hunters that are mainly active during the night. Such nocturnal animals typically prefer to sleep during the day.

By the way, these two cats are considered to be solitary animals (except during mating, of course).


Ocelots and Asian leopard cats are wild animals. Even though in some states it is not illegal to have such a cat as a pet, you should never forget that you’re dealing with a wild species.

Their endangered status is ‘least concern. With that being said, the various populations of these cats are decreasing (mainly, due to habit destruction).

Read: Why Your Bengal Cat Is Crying?

What Domestic Cat Looks Like an Ocelot?

Even though you might be allowed to have an ocelot as a pet, that doesn’t mean that you have to. In fact, the only scenario in which the acquisition of these wild cats might be justified is if you’re planning on breeding the animals.

The Asian leopard cat, for example, was used to create the Bengal breed. So, if you’re looking for a domestic with an exotic appearance, then you might want to go for a Bengal. By the way, it’s the only domestic cat breed with well-defined rosettes.

Other breeds that you might want to consider include:

  • The Egyptian Mau
  • The Ocicat
  • The Savannah cat
  • The Pixiebob
  • The Serengeti
Savannah Cat

Can an Ocelot Be a House Pet?

It is assumed that all non-domesticated cats in captivity can pose the same threat to people as a lion or a tiger, for example. But the adventurous and responsible pet owners with the right living situation, level of income, and permits (if those are required by state laws) can find that owning a small wild cat as a pet can be rewarding in a lot of ways.

However, there are a few important things that you would have to bear in mind from a legal perspective:

  1. In some states, exotic animals can only be legal if you are able to meet certain requirements. The state of Florida, for example, might administer a permit for a small wild cat, in case you have completed 1,000 hours of volunteer work with these species.
  2. The majority of exotic pets are banned in New York City, California, and Hawaii.
  3. Nevada seems to have the loosest laws when it comes to exotic pet ownership.

Read: Do Cats Really Use Cat Wheels?

Are Ocelots Aggressive?

Neither ocelots nor Asian leopard cats are considered to be dangerous. But they can become aggressive if they feel like they’re being threatened.

That’s why it’s extremely important to understand how to act with these exotic pets. It goes without saying, that babies and other pets should not be allowed to get close to ocelots or Asian leopard cats as the wild species might mistake their willingness to play for aggression.

These cats are also amazing hunters. So, they might end up killing any small pets (like hamsters, for example), if you happen to have those as well.

All in all, ocelots and Asian leopard cats are relatively safe to be around. Especially, if the animals have been socialized since they were babies.

Read: What Should I Do If My Cat Keeps Sneezing?

Housing Recommendations for Ocelots ; Asian Leopard Cats

If you’re allowed to keep a small wild cat as a pet in your state, then you would have to make sure to follow these housing recommendations:

  • The enclosure has to have enough room to allow the cats to exercise.
  • As both of these species are excellent climbers, the outdoor enclosure has to have a roof.
  • All small wild cats are solitary creatures, so they shouldn’t live with an adult of the same sex. It is allowed, however, to keep a mating pair together.
  • Asian leopard cats and ocelots can eat high-quality cat food. If you decide to go for a varied-meat diet, then whole prey items would have to be provided (like rabbits, for example).
  • You have to monitor the state of the animals at least once a day.
  • An ocelot’s enclosure should be a bit bigger than the ‘home’ of an Asian leopard cat. For a single animal, the length, width, and height of the enclosure should be at least 13 x 6.6 x 8.2 feet (6.6 x 6.6 x 8.2 feet for Asian leopard cats).

Read: Is Cat Sitting An Easy Job?

How to Take Care of Asian Leopard Cats ; Ocelots?

You would have to be highly committed to taking care of your small wild cat, in order to make the beautiful animal happy in captivity. Do bear in mind, however, that being an owner of an exotic pet is not easy.

  • Ocelots and Asian leopard cats are carnivores. Ideally, you would want their diet to be as close to their natural one as possible. You’d have to feed the wild cats raw meat (including organ meat) that should be supplemented with calcium and taurine.
  • Wild cats need a lot of space to exercise. To prevent obesity in these kitties, you would also have to provide them with platforms and climbing poles.
  • You might not be able to teach wild cats to use litter boxes. But with proper training, the cats may start doing their business on newspapers.
  • It is not recommended to spay such animals due to some conservation programs’ regulations.

Finding a trained vet in your area who knows how to deal with exotic animals might be extremely challenging.

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