The Purrfect Getaway. Discover the Feline Paradise of Cat Island

Introduction to Cat Island

Cat Island is an island in the Bahamas located about 150 miles southeast of Nassau. It has an area of about 150 square miles, making it the 5th largest island in the Bahamas. The island gets its name from the felines that were brought to the island aboard ships by early settlers. Historically, Cat Island was home to cotton plantations during the 1700s and 1800s.

Geographically, Cat Island has a variety of landscapes and terrain. The eastern side has steep ridges and cliffs that rise up to 206 feet above sea level. The western side has lovely white sand beaches. In the interior of the island there are wetlands, mangrove swamps, and freshwater lakes. The climate is tropical, with average temperatures around 80°F year-round.

Some key facts about Cat Island:

  • Location: Southeast of Nassau in the Bahamas
  • Area: 150 square miles
  • Highest Point: Mt. Alvernia at 206 feet
  • Notable Towns: New Bight, Arthur’s Town
  • Climate: Tropical, around 80°F average
  • History: Former cotton plantations, named for cats

Notable Fauna on Cat Island

Cat Island is home to a diverse array of animal species across various taxa. According to the Cat Island Check List on, the island contains hundreds of species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, arachnids, and mollusks. Its isolation from other islands and varied habitats ranging from beaches to wetlands to forests allow many unique species to thrive there.

The major classes of vertebrates present include mammals like bats, rodents, and introduced mammals such as goats, pigs, and donkeys. Reptiles like the endemic Bahamian boa constrictor and various lizards can be found in forested areas. Over 140 species of birds use the island for breeding and migration, including West Indian flamingos, white-crowned pigeons, and Cuban emerald hummingbirds.

Insects and arachnids also proliferate, with butterflies, ants, beetles, spiders, and scorpions spotted. The surrounding waters contain bonefish, marlin, mahi mahi, sharks, stingrays, sea turtles, and more marine life. Overall, Cat Island harbors high terrestrial and marine biodiversity critical to the Bahamas’ natural heritage.


Cat Island is home to a variety of mammal species, both native and introduced. Some of the native mammals found on Cat Island include bats and rodents.[1] There are three species of bats that can be found on the island: the Cuban fruit-eating bat (Brachyphylla nana), the Jamaican fruit bat (Artibeus jamaicensis), and the Northern Greater funnel-eared bat (Natalus stramineus).[1] These bats play an important role in pollination and seed dispersal on the island. The rodents of Cat Island consist of the house mouse (Mus musculus) and two species of rats – the black rat (Rattus rattus) and the Lesser Antillean giant rice rat (Megalomys luciae).

In addition to native species, some non-native mammals have been introduced to Cat Island over time. Most notably, goats, donkeys, horses, and pigs can now be found roaming wild on parts of the island. These species were brought by early settlers as livestock. While they provide food sources, their grazing and rooting behaviors can negatively impact native plant species and cause erosion.[2] Efforts are underway to control populations of these invasive mammals, including an initiative by the Bahamas National Trust to eradicate wild goats.


Cat Island is home to a diverse array of bird species. Some of the most notable birds found on the island include:

Endemic Species:

  • The Bahama Woodstar (Calliphlox evelynae), a small hummingbird found only in the Bahamas (
  • The Bahama Mockingbird (Mimus gundlachii), the national bird of the Bahamas that is found across multiple islands (

Migratory Species:

  • Many species of warblers, including the Cape May Warbler (Setophaga tigrina), spend winters on Cat Island after breeding further north (
  • The Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) passes through Cat Island on its migratory route each year (


  • Cat Island has breeding colonies of Royal Terns (Thalasseus maximus), with over 5,000 pairs nesting on the island annually (
  • The Least Grebe (Tachybaptus dominicus) can be found in coastal ponds and lagoons on Cat Island (


Cat Island is home to a variety of reptiles, most notably the endangered Bahamian Rock Iguana, endemic to the Bahamas. They can reach up to 17 inches long and live in rocky coppice habitat. Iguanas play an important role in seed dispersal on the island.

Snakes on Cat Island include the nonvenomous Cat Island Boa, the largest native snake in the Bahamas, which can grow over 6 feet long. They are excellent swimmers and climb trees to find food and mates. Other snakes include rainbow boas and Caribbean racers.

Sea turtles such as loggerheads, green turtles, and hawksbills nest on the beaches of Cat Island. Land turtles include the endangered Cat Island Turtle, restricted to only a few cays. Conservation efforts are protecting nesting sites and hatchlings.


Cat Island is home to several species of frogs and toads. According to the Cat Island Check List, some of the amphibians found on the island include:

  • Cuban tree frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis)
  • Greenhouse frog (Eleutherodactylus planirostris)
  • Whistling frog (Eleutherodactylus johnstonei)

One species of particular note is the Eleutherodactylus johnstonei, or whistling frog. This small frog gets its name from the whistling or peeping call the males make. They are terrestrial and often found under rocks or leaf litter. The whistling frog is endemic to the Bahamas, found only on a few islands including Cat Island.

Protecting the fragile amphibian populations is an important consideration for conservation efforts on Cat Island. Habitat loss and climate change threatens many of these small frog and toad species.


Cat Island is home to a diverse array of insects, including many different species of butterflies, moths, and beetles. According to the Cat Island Check List on, there are 88 observed insect species documented on the island. Some of the most notable insect species include:

Butterflies: The island is home to butterflies like the Cassius Blue, Mangrove Buckeye, and Gray Cracker. Many of these butterflies can be spotted fluttering around the island’s flowering plants and trees.

Moths: Giant silk moths like the Luna Moth and Imperial Moth can be found in the island’s forests. Other moth species include underwings, tiger moths, and owlet moths.

Beetles: There are many beetle species that inhabit Cat Island, including flower beetles, darkling beetles, scarab beetles, and weevils. Iridescent jewel beetles are also present.

In addition to being beautiful pollinators, insects play an important ecological role on Cat Island. They help decompose organic matter, aerate soil, control pests, and provide food for birds and other animals.

Marine Life

Cat Island is home to a diverse array of marine life. The waters surrounding the island contain colorful coral reef systems that provide habitat for many species of fish and other sea creatures.

Some of the fish commonly found around Cat Island include yellowtail snapper, Nassau grouper, parrotfish, trumpetfish, angelfish, and surgeonfish. The coral reefs host a vibrant community of reef fish in a kaleidoscope of colors and patterns. Large predators like barracuda, jacks, and sharks also patrol the outer reefs.

Other marine animals found in the waters of Cat Island are sea turtles, dolphins, conch, lobster, octopus, sea stars, and urchins. Green and hawksbill sea turtles nest on Cat Island’s beaches, while bottlenose dolphins frequently swim in the island’s sheltered bays and harbors.

Some key fish species, like grouper and snapper, have declined around Cat Island in recent decades due to overfishing. Conservation efforts are underway to monitor and protect the fragile coral reef ecosystems through sustainable fishing practices.


Conservation Efforts

Cat Island is home to several endemic and endangered animal species that require conservation efforts for their protection. The Bahama parrot, also known as the Bahama Amazon, is found only on Cat Island and a few other Bahamian islands. The population is estimated between 4,000-6,000 birds and is classified as endangered by the IUCN. Conservation projects focus on protecting nesting and feeding habitat (Source).

The San Salvador rock iguana and Allen Cays rock iguana, both critically endangered species, are also native to Cat Island. Habitat protection and control of invasive predators like cats are important for their survival (Source). The island is also an important nesting site for sea turtles, including the loggerhead turtle which is classified as vulnerable. Local groups work to protect turtle nesting beaches and educate the community on reducing threats to these endangered reptiles.


In conclusion, Cat Island is home to a diverse array of animal species, including many endemic mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and marine life. Key fauna found on the island include the endangered Bahama parrot, the Sagra’s oriole, rock iguanas, and several species of bats, among others. Preserving the biodiversity of Cat Island is critical, as many of its animals are threatened or endangered. Efforts by conservation groups like the Cat Island Conservation Institute are helping to protect the island’s habitats and unique species for future generations.

Overall, this remote Bahamian island provides a sanctuary for an array of animals found nowhere else on Earth. Protecting the delicate ecosystems of Cat Island ensures the survival of its distinctive fauna. More research and habitat conservation initiatives are still needed to fully understand and safeguard the island’s precious biodiversity.

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