• breeding;
  • breeding behaviour;
  • Geoffroy's cat;
  • management;
  • maternal behaviour

Over a 3 year period ten Geoffroy's cat Oncifelis geoffroyi at four zoos were videotaped, producing 4278 hours of behavioural data including 15 oestrous periods, five gestation periods, five births and four post-partum periods. One-hundred-and-one separate behaviours were described and analysed, providing a behavioural profile of the species which enabled the construction of time budgets and an analysis of enclosure usage. Geoffroy's cats were found to be crepuscular. Most activity occurred on the ground and ledges were only used for resting and trees were used as pathways from the ground to the ledges. The Geoffroy's cats were found to be mostly sedentary with much social grooming between ♂♂ and ♀♀ Stereotypic and aggressive behaviours were rare. Females were more gregarious than ♂♂ Several interesting behaviours with ecological implications are discussed. Captive cats exhibited oestrus all year round, with a peak between February and August, and were polyoestrus. Mean age of sexual maturity reported by ISIS was 50 months for ♂♂ and 47 months for ♀♀ and breeding could continue until 16 years of age or older. A pre-oestrous period could be predicted from behaviour up to 14 days before oestrus. The length of oestrus (1–12 days) showed some relationship to the age of the ♀. The predominance of social behaviour and the lack of courtship behaviours indicated a possible pair-bond in the species. Frequency and duration of mounting and intromission during mating showed some relationship with age of the ♂ and the length of time the pair had been housed together. Birth peaks were between April and October and the gestation period ranged from 66 to 72 days. Parturition could be predicted from behaviour up to 14 days before birth. Interbirth period, mean litter size, total infant mortality and ♂ infant mortality showed some relationship to the age and parity of the ♀ Behavioural development of infants is documented and the data are used to make recommendations for the successful management and breeding of this species.