The Oncilla has been trapped in large numbers for the fur trade. In 1971, 28,000 pelts were counted in Brazilian warehouses, and in 1983, 84,500 skins were exported from Paraguay.
It is difficult to ascertain the effects of habitat degradation as so little is known of Leopardus tigrinus.
The Oncilla shows a strong preference for montane cloud forest. Found throughout its forest habitat extending from Costa Rica, through Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia to Ecuador. This small Latin American felid is about the size of a domestic cat in body size, but the long tail, generally over 40% of its total body length, gives it a much larger overall appearance. There is little understanding of its habitat requirements, density, and coexistence with other small cats.
In 1985, 675 spotted cat skins, mainly Oncilla, were seized in Brazil.
Leopardus tigrinus is considered by the IUCN as "Lower Risk" sub-category "near threatened" species. CITES upgraded the species to "Appendix 1" in 1989.