1,000 Cats Project

Featured CatsOur 1,000 Cats Project seeks to document native felines across the region to better understand their binational habitat, celebrate their fascinating ecology, and raise public awareness of their conservation needs. Together we can help native cats thrive by building a deeper appreciation for them and by taking action in every community.

In the first year since the project launched in spring 2021, community scientists in the U.S. and Mexico documented 1,161 individual observations of cats — well above our goal — including bobcats, mountain lions, and ocelots. This binational data was reported via:

  • 543 monthly FotoFauna checklists submitted by 90 volunteers;
  • 140 trail camera observations from our Border Wildlife Study; and
  • 487 independent observations of cats (including their tracks and signs) on iNaturalist.

We shared this data with communities through our FotoFauna Dashboard to inspire people and show them exactly where cats are thriving today. This data was also cited in Sky Island Alliance advocacy efforts to stop border wall construction and the proposed I-11 interstate in Arizona, which would sever cat habitat.

1000 Cats Project

Easy Things You Can Do to Help

  • Drive carefully near open spaces, especially at night, to avoid potential collisions with wild cats.
  • Avoid using rodenticides at home. They poison rats and predators alike.
  • Put out clean water in your yard consistently. This helps cats stay hydrated as they pass through.
  • Start a native-plant garden that supports a variety of wildlife, including prey that cats depend on.
  • Keep close watch of your pets/livestock to reduce the risk of conflicts with wild cats.
  • Choose to reach for a camera, not a gun, if a wild cat does cross your path.


Get Involved: Help Us Find the Next 1,000 Cats

  1. Join our FotoFauna network. We’ll walk you through the steps of setting up a remote wildlife camera so you can record observations each month and then submit species checklists.
  2. Volunteer with our Border Wildlife Study. Join us in the field as a volunteer to learn how to check our wildlife cameras, collect data on habitat quality, track for wildlife along the border road, or help process the millions of photos collected every year at the Sky Island Alliance office.


Learn More: Project Resources


Our Partners

We’re delighted to do this important work in partnership with Saguaro National Park, Coronado National Memorial, Área de Protección de Flora y Fauna Bavispe, Universidad de la Sierra, Protección de la Fauna Mexicana (Profauna), and Cuenca los Ojos.

This project would also not be possible without generous funding from the Southwest Border Resource Protection Program.










Project Contact: Emily Burns, Program Director (emily@skyislandalliance.org)

Footprints left in sand by a jaguar (Panthera onca). Photographed in the Pantanal, Brazil.

Iconic Sky Island Cats

Jaguar (c) Sky Island Alliance/El Aribabi


The jaguar is the largest cat in the Americas and has spots and a large head. This cat is unmistakable to other large cats in the region. Males have been sighted in Sonora, Mexico, near the border.



Photo of bobcat by Raynor Vandeven.


The bobcat is a medium sized cat with a short tail and tufted ears. Its lower body often has spots.



Photo of ocelot in Rancho El Aribabi, Mexico.


The ocelot is a medium-sized cat with a long tail and round ears. Ocelot have spots that often look like chains.

Mountain Lions

A borderland mountain carrying its next meal — a white-nosed coati west of the Atascosa Mountains.


The mountain lion is a large tawny cat with a long tail and no spots.