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Baby Ocelots: Everything to Know About Ocelot Kittens

Baby ocelots are called kittens. Their fur is dark and grayish at birth with spots marking their whole body. They are small enough to fit in the palm of your hands up to five weeks old. Kittens turn into young adults at ~7 months old.

Baby ocelots are one of the cutest sights in the animal kingdom. You wouldn’t know that these innocent-looking cats become ruthless predators twice the size of house cats.

But how exactly do these kittens become the solitary hunters that adult ocelots are?

This article will give you all the information you need about baby ocelots, including their name, diet, size, life stages, and threats.

What Are Baby Ocelots Called?

Baby ocelots are called kittens. Wildcat babies are usually called cubs or kittens.

The determining factor on whether a young wildcat is called a kitten or a cub is size. 

Smaller wildcats, like lynx and ocelot babies, are called kittens. Bigger ones, like lions and tiger babies, are called cubs.[1]

A group of ocelot kitten siblings is called a litter.

What Are Baby Ocelots Called

What Do Baby Ocelots Look Like?

Baby ocelots are covered with dark spots. Their fur is greyish, and their legs are much darker.

Ocelot kittens have blue eyes which they don’t open until they’re about 14 days old. Their eyes change to brown at around three months old.[2]

Their fur changes to the signature orange-tan quickly. At around three months old, their color is almost identical to adult ones.[3]

Ocelot kitten characteristics at birth:

  • Sealed, blue eyes
  • Grey fur
  • Darker fur on lower limbs
  • Full of spots

Baby Ocelot Size and Weight

Ocelot kittens weigh a maximum of 12 ounces at birth. They are no bigger than an average palm. At five weeks old, they can easily fit in the hands of an average woman.

Ocelot kittens are much smaller than an average domestic cat at birth. They’re defenseless and weak, so they need their mother’s full-time attention.

Related: Ocelot Size: How Big Are They?

Baby Ocelot Size

Baby Ocelot Size
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Baby ocelots at birth are as big as a palm. At five weeks old, they are already starting to become as big as a smaller adult housecat.[4]

TargetSize (excluding tail)
Adult male ocelot28-40 inches
Adult female ocelot~30 inches
Ocelot kitten (at birth)~7 inches
Ocelot kitten (at five weeks old)~12 inches
Domestic cat~18 inches

Baby Ocelot Weight

Baby ocelots are light. Their weight of around 12 ounces is not even ten percent of their full-grown body weight.[5] 

They weigh around 2,8 pounds after six weeks.[6]

Age and genderWeight
Adult male ocelot24-39 pounds
Adult female ocelot14.5-25 pounds
Ocelot kitten (at birth)7-12 ounces
Ocelot kitten (at six weeks old)~2.8 pounds

What Do Baby Ocelots Eat?

Like all baby mammals, baby ocelots drink their mother’s milk. They start eating solid food at around eight weeks old, consuming meat exclusively.

The transition between drinking mother’s milk and eating solid food is not instant. They slowly eat more and more meat and can drink their mother’s milk for up to six months.[7]

You can read more about the diet of ocelots here.

What Do Baby Ocelots Eat
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When Do Baby Ocelots Start Eating Solid Food?

Baby ocelots start eating solid food at eight weeks old, but they’re already hunting with their mother at six weeks old.

The weaning period is not instant. Ocelot kittens eat meat and drink milk simultaneously and only abandon their mother’s breasts when they’re six months old.

What Meat Do Baby Ocelots Eat?

Ocelot kittens eat the same food as adult ocelots. They are carnivores, so they won’t eat anything besides meat.

Mothers hunt for their kittens, as some prey animals (like monkeys) are bigger than baby ocelots.

Baby ocelots eat the following prey animals:

  • Rodents
  • Reptiles
  • Amphibians
  • Fishes
  • Small mammals
  • Birds

What Do Baby Ocelots Hunt?

Ocelot kittens start hunting with their mothers at six weeks old. They hunt small, defenseless animals, as hunting at this age is more about practicing for when they become independent.

Baby ocelots hunt the following animals:

  • Iguanas
  • Frogs
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Small birds
  • Insects

Baby Ocelot Life Stages

Ocelots have three life stages, called juvenile, subadult, and adult. They are considered mature after 24-40 months.

The different life stages are characterized not only by physical differences but behavioral and habitual changes as well.

The three life stages of ocelots are:

  1. Juvenile (0-7 months)
  2. Subadult
  3. Adult

1. Juvenile

Juvenile Ocelots
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Baby ocelots are juveniles until they are about a year old. This is the period where most of their development happens.

Developments of juvenile ocelots:

  1. Fur color changes from greyish to tan
  2. Eyes open at 14 days old
  3. Hunting with mother at around six weeks old
  4. Starting to eat meat at around eight weeks old
  5. Eye color changes from blue to brown at three months old
  6. Fully grown teeth at around seven months old

2. Subadult

Baby ocelots become subadults as early as seven months old. This is a transitional period in the ocelot’s life, meaning they become more independent from their mother over time.

Ocelots are solitary, so they will look for their own territory during this stage of life. Mothers tolerate their children in their territory for up to two years.

After two years, ocelots become fully independent and reach adulthood.

3. Adult

Adult Ocelots
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Ocelots become adults at two years of age. This is their last life stage. They gain their adult weight at around three years old and have their own territory at this point.

Sexual maturity comes at different times for males and females. Male ocelots become reach sexual maturity at 15 months old. Female ocelots will first give birth at 18-22 months old.

Ocelots in the wild live to be around 13 years old. In captivity, their life expectancy is 20 years, with some surviving for up to 28 years.

Baby Ocelot Risks and Threats

Baby ocelots are at risk of many things: High infant mortality rate, long gestation, small litter size, and difficulty of becoming pregnant.

Ocelots don’t have natural predators, and females move their kittens from one den to another up to five times for safety. 

Female ocelots are highly protective of their babies and only leave them to search for food.

High Infant Mortality Rate

rat snake

There are many reasons kittens could die at a young age. Baby ocelots are vulnerable to all diseases, and they are without protection when their mother leaves to hunt.

Predators that eat baby ocelots:

  • Snakes
  • Eagles
  • Cougars
  • Jaguars

Another cause is due to human activity. An analysis conducted between 1983 and 2002 showed that 45% of male ocelot deaths are caused by vehicle collisions.[8]

Long Gestation

Ocelot mothers are pregnant for about 85 days.[9] This is one of the longest gestation periods among wildcats of their size.

A long gestation period means a higher chance of pregnancy complications. Ocelot mothers may fight or get injured during pregnancy which affects their unborn babies’ health.

Small Litter Size

Ocelots give birth to one to two kittens per litter on average. They reach up to four kittens in rare cases.

This alone is not a problem. When paired with high infant mortality, there are litters from which no baby ocelots reach adulthood.

Difficulty Becoming Pregnant

Ocelot males and females need to mate several times per day to combat their difficulty to become pregnant.

They also wait an extended amount of time between pregnancies. Females wait for up to two years to find a mating partner again.


Baby ocelots are called kittens. At birth, they’re greyish with dark limbs and spots all over their body. Their small bodies could fit in a palm and their weight is only about 12 ounces.

Baby ocelots become full adults by two years old. During that time, they learn how to walk, how to hunt, look for their own territory, become independent, and mate for the first time. 

Although they grow up to be capable hunters, baby ocelots face many threats, including other predators, diseases, and even humans.


Where Are Baby Ocelots Born?

Baby ocelots are born in hollow trees, caves, or thick bushes. Mothers look for secluded areas for their babies’ protection and move dens up to 5 times. Mostly, ocelot kittens are born and nursed in dens found in thick vegetation.

When Are Baby Ocelots Born?

Baby ocelots are born throughout the year. Some evidence suggests that ocelots have mating periods, as males are more productive during summer. For this, generally more ocelots are born around summer.

Can You Adopt a Baby Ocelot?

Yes, you can adopt a baby pet ocelot. There are lengthy procedures, as you most likely have to get a permit. In some places, it’s even banned to own an ocelot. Kittens can cost up to $15,000, and their upkeep can cost $20,000 annually.

What Do Baby Ocelots Sound Like?

Baby ocelots squeak at a high pitch at birth. Later, they growl and purr, but these sounds are weaker and quieter than adult ocelots’ sounds. Not only kittens, but even adult ocelots can’t roar. Usually, ocelots don’t meow, and their meow sound is more of a growling sound.

About Misfit Animals Staff

The Misfit Animals staff consists of animal lovers, pet enthusiasts, veterinarians, zoologists, and other animal experts. Our goal is to provide people with information on proper animal care.

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