The ocelot is a beautiful cat with sleek smooth fur that is tawny yellow over most of its body. It is marked with solid black spots and open rosettes. Its ears are rounded, black with a white spot on the back and the head has two black stripes on each cheek. The neck also has black stripes. The underparts are white and the long tail is usually banded. Each individual ocelot has a unique pattern. They are mainly nocturnal, sleeping during the day in a tree. They are strong swimmers and agile climbers however most travelling and hunting is done on the ground.
Ocelots are polygynous, with a single male territory overlapping several female territories. In the tropics, ocelots breed year round but in the northern part of their range they mate in autumn and winter. Once pregnant, females build a den in thick brush give birth to 1-3 kittens after a gestation period of 79-82 days. It is thought that females will have one litter every two years. Offspring are weaned at 6 weeks and are independent by 8 to 10 months old.
Their main threats are habitat destruction and fragmentation and hunting for the illegal fur trade.