How Much Does an Ocelot Pet Cost?

Written by: Staff

An Ocelot, also known as the dwarf leopard, is a highly endangered wild cat.

Commonly found throughout South and Central America, as well as parts of South Texas, the ocelot is a nocturnal species and is typically known to be quite solitary, although, it will at times, share a den with another ocelot of the same gender.

The Ocelot is an adaptable animal which can be found in a range of habitats, including grasslands, mangrove forests, marshes and tropical forests provided that there is ample dense vegetation. Being carnivorous, the ocelot will eat any type of small prey, including rodents, birds, snakes and monkeys.

Ocelot by jennicatpink, on Flickr
Ocelot” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by jennicatpink

How much does an Ocelot cost?

To own an Ocelot, you will need local state and federal permits, and since Ocelots are considered to be illegal in most states, you don’t have much of a chance to buy one unless you’re an accredited AZA zoo. Federal regulations, via the USDA, sets the standards for cage and habitat requirement, exercise protocols, emergency protocols and mental enhancement.  While some states don’t require permits to own this cat, it’s always best to check your local laws to be certain.

If you’re legally able to own one, the average cost of a kitten can range anywhere from as little as $1,500 to more than $15,000, depending on the breeder and where you live.

According to, an Ocelot can cost as much as $15,000.

What are the extra costs?

You will need state and federal permits, which can cost well over $300 per year.

These licenses, most of the time, will require you carry liability insurance.  Like any insurance policy, a lot of factors can affect the pricing, but most quotes can range from $1,000 to more than $15,000+ per year.

As with any pet, some costs keep recurring every year, including food and veterinary care.  Raw meat, manufacturer cat food and vitamins alone for a mid-size cat can cost you around $1,200 per year, while routine vet care can also be costly since there’s a good chance a vet has to visit your location to take care of the animal.  Deworming, routine vaccinations, and even flea prevention can cost hundreds of dollars a year and much more if your Ocelot were to come down with an unexpected illness.  Keep in mind, however, that some vets won’t tend to exotic pets due to legal liabilities.  With that being said, be sure to find a licensed vet who is willing to work with you before even considering adoption.

A housing structure, which must be compromised of climbable poles, platforms, water deep enough for them to dive into and toys, can easily cost four figures, depending on the setup, size and materials it’s made from.  A secured fence, typically built from an 11+ gauge chain link fence, also needs to be installed to prevent one from escaping.  At a minimum, this enclosure should be at least 800 square feet.  In fact, in some states, they may require a minimum amount of space.

Tips to know:

If you’re able to get a permit for your pet, you will not be able to travel with you at any time.  If the authorities were to find your pet left the property, it can be confiscated.

Many insurance companies will cancel your homeowners insurance if they found out you housed an exotic pet.

The average Ocelot typically weighs 20 to 35 pounds and is distinguished for its striking spotted black and gold pelt, similar to that of a jaguar or leopard.  When mature, they stand 16 to 20 inches tall and can reach lengths up to 35 inches.

Today, the Ocelot has been listed by IUCN as a species of Least Concern of becoming extinct in their natural environment in the near future.

In captivity, they have been known to live longer than 20 years, but in the wild, they typically live half this.

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