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Smallest Wild Cat In Western Hemisphere

While most cat lovers and owners love and find the vast variety of sounds their beloved pets make really adorable, it’s a mystery for most of us how wild cats actually sound. Most people have most likely heard the roar of the lion or tiger on some kind of animal documentary, while fewer have heard the tiger chuff. But what do the rest of the world’s wild cats sound like? National Geographic has recently unveiled the small, adorable sound made by the smallest wild cat in the Western Hemisphere, the Chilean güiña, in its Photo Ark project.

More info: National Geographic

This is a Chilean güiña, the smallest wild cat in the Western Hemisphere

Image credits: National Geographic (YouTube)

This tiny cat, known as a Chilean güiña or Leopardus guigna, is the smallest wild cat found in the Western Hemisphere. It weighs under six pounds and is half the size of a usual house cat. It is classed as a vulnerable species by the IUCN red list. The number of these wild cats is decreasing mostly due to loss of habitat.

This tiny cat is only half the size of the usual house cat

Image credits: National Geographic (YouTube)

Chilean güiñas usually weigh under six pounds

Image credits: National Geographic (YouTube)

The one you’re seeing in the photos here is named Pikumche—one of eight Chilean güiñas living at Fauna Andina. Fauna Andina is believed to be the only place in the world that has Chilean güiñas in captivity. They are extremely shy cats that are rarely seen and are thus often called “mystery cat that lives in the shadows” by Chilean people.

These cats are extremely shy and have therefore earned the nickname “mystery cat that lives in the shadows”

Image credits: National Geographic (YouTube)

Despite not many having heard its voice, National Geographic has finally unveiled it to the world in its Photo Ark project

Image credits: National Geographic (YouTube)

Pikumche was brought to the Fauna Andina when he was found orphaned as a kitten. He is now two and a half years old and sadly can’t be released back into the wild, since he has gotten too used to being around humans. Fernando Vidal Mugica, the founder of Fauna Andina, explained the noises the tiny feline made are “likely expressions of pleasure or excitement” and his meow was because the other güiñas appeared.

You can hear the adorable sound it makes here:

The Chilean güiña had the honor of being featured as the 10,000th animal in National Geographic’s Photo Ark

Image credits: National Geographic (YouTube)

However, his presence at Fauna Andina has brought some interesting knowledge that was previously scarce around these cats. While it’s extremely rare to hear the sound they make in the wild, Joel Sartore’s project Photo Ark revealed the adorable, crackling voice of Pikumche.

The recording was made at the only place in the world that has Chilean güiñas in captivity—Fauna Andina in Villarrica, Chile

Image credits: National Geographic (YouTube)

Someone offered an interesting explanation of the cat’s name

Others made funny comparisons about the sound and wished they could make it their ring tone

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