Bobcat Facts

Bobcat

Common Name: Bobcat
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrata)
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Felinae (Lynx)
Species: rufus
Sub-Species: L.r. escuinapae Mexican bobcat
Misc: This cat is named for its short tail.

Size and Appearance: The Bobcat is a medium sized cat with a ruff of fur around the sides of the face. They weigh between 13-30 pounds, stand 21 inches high and are 30-50 inches long. The bobcats in the North tend to be larger than those in the south. Their coat color varies and has been recorded in shades of light gray, yellowish-brown, buff-brown, and reddish-brown. They are always spotted to some extent, with some patterned only on the undersides, and others having spots on the sides and chest backs too. The southern Bobcats seem to have a more spotted coat, with the spots being much smaller than the northern cats. Both melanistic and albinistic Bobcats have been reported, but the melanistic ones have only occurred in Florida. They are often confused with their larger feline cousin the Lynx, but can be easily distinguished by their tail tips. The tail of the Lynx looks as though it was dipped in an inkwell being black all the way around, whereas the Bobcat’s tail appears to have been painted black on top and white on the bottom.

Gray Bobcat on Brown Trunk

More Bobcat Photos Here

Habitat: Boreal and coniferous mixed forests, hardwood forest, coastal swamps, desert and scrubland.

Distribution: United States and Southern Canada.

Reproduction and Offspring: After a gestation of approximately 50-70 days, females produce a litter of 1-8 kittens, with the average being 2-3. They weigh 9.75-12 ounces at birth and will open their eyes at around 6 days. They are weaned between 3-4 months of age, and reach sexual maturity around 12 months for females, and 24 months for males.

In the wild, Bobcats live 12-13 years, and at Big Cat Rescue they have lived over twenty years.

Social System and Communication: Solitary. Male territories will overlap that of many females and even to some extent another males, but female territories are exclusive. Males and females only come together at the breeding season, which is December to April. Hear our purrs, hisses, snarls, calls, and growl sounds HERE

Hunting and Diet: These tough little cats will eat almost anything, and are natural born survivors (except for man’s interference). Their primary diet is rabbit, but they also eat rodents, beaver, peccaries, birds and bats, and deer. They are also scavengers.

Principal Threats: This little cat was the most heavily harvested and traded member of the cat family for the past 20 years. In the 1970’s CITES went into effect and the pelts of the Appendix 1 cats became illegal and unobtainable, the price offered to trappers for a Bobcat pelt went from $20.00 to $600.00. This also caused the number of Bobcats killed annually to rise from 10,000 to over 90,000 by the 1980s. The interest in Bobcat pelts today was declining due to international awareness of the cruel methods of trapping and prohibitions against trade of animals trapped using these methods up until 2008 when Russia began buying all the bobcat pelts they could get their hands on. This surge in demand threatens to wipe the bobcat out of America. The bobcat also battles the ever growing human population and its destruction of all habitat in its path. According to 2001 statistics provided from actual sales of hunting permits, over 40,000 bobcats are still being killed each year. This figure does not include all the bobcats killed by hunters who do not buy licenses nor report their kills. Less than 3% of our population are hunters but they kill over 100 million animals each year for sport.

Status: CITES: Appendix II. IUCN: Not listed.

Felid TAG 2000 recommendation: Bobcat (Lynx rufus). Many bobcats are present in zoos in numbers that are deleterious to other RCP species. Although the TAG recognizes that bobcats have an important role in regional theme exhibits, it is suggested that AZA holders help reduce the North American population from morethan 125 individuals to 0. For zoogeographic exhibits, the TAG suggests that institutions consider exhibiting Canadian lynx, rather than bobcats. If theme dictates bobcat exhibition, animals should be acquired from other AZA institutions or from sanctuary or rescue organizations. No breeding is recommended. At the Annual AZA Conference (September 1999), the following four species were recommended by the Felid TAG to be ‘down-graded’ to a Phase-Out populations. For the jaguarundi, tigrina, and Geoffroy’s cat, these recommendations were made because of limited space available, the limited number of founders in these populations, and limited potential for acquiring additional founders. The bobcat was recommended for Phase-Out due to commonality in nature. Additionally, where zoogeographic exhibits exist, the TAG recommends exhibiting Canadian lynx rather than the bobcat.

How rare is this cat? According to Defenders of Wildlife, a conservation group based in Washington D.C., there are about 750,000 to 1,020,000 bobcats as of 2009. The International Species Information Service lists 245 captive bobcats worldwide, with 191 being in U.S. zoos.

Information reprinted With Permission from the IUCN Wild Cats Book

See Conservation Work Funded By Big Cat Rescue here:

2023 Saving Bobcats

6/4/2023 Michael Levin PhD student at Columbia University overseen by Laurel Serieys, who works with Panthera’s small cat team are collaring bobcats to learn more about the threats they face and ways to mitigate those threats.

All conservation insitu work: https://bigcatrescue.org/insitu/

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55 Comments

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  2. Today 2 Bobcats chased my 65# Doberman out of the woods in Overland Park, Kansas! Had to be a male and female, which stay together only a few days during mating season. I could see Bristol through the trees, staring at something, so I called her to me. I don’t think she knew she was being chased. They saw me and ran back into the woods. I have never heard of anything like this in my life.

    1. Wild animals can get very hungry if food is scarce, then they will, I’m sure, kill and eat anything they can catch. If it were my pets I’d keep them close to the house (stay with them when outside if I live in a rural area) if it were a dog and always indoors if it is a cat.

  3. I saw 5 bobcats together coming out of the woods into a field. I didnt think the roamed in packs. I have pics. Is it normal to see that many together?

  4. Thanks for the info & videos on bobcats. Been curious about them because they’re similar in size, weight, and appearance to my super docile & loving dlh cat. To see wild animals, *acting* like wild animals (as they should!), and yet looking strangely similar to a cherished feline family member is… trippy. Thank you for respecting them as they are.

  5. Will a bobcat hunt a domestic house cat? My husband saw our cat being chased through our yard by a bigger cat that he believes was a bobcat. He managed to intervene and scare the big cat off by screaming at it. Still not certain if the other animal was in fact a bobcat. This happened in upper Westchester county, NY.

  6. Question:

    Can Bob Cats have a longer tail like say a house cat ? I thought I read they can.

  7. I’m a fan of bobcats since getting to know them through Your permanent residents and esp the BCR rehab cams. I would like to request that you include some information on this page similar to what’s posted on this sanctuary page. https://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/what-we-do/why-donkeys-matter
    When talking to people about bobcats, they either have no feelings for them or are afraid due to cautions given to them as children or perhaps see them as pests. I’d like some information on their place in the ecological system and what they do to keep things in balance. While I’ve mentioned rodent control, I wonder if there is more to it. Thanks!

    1. They most certainly are. I’d show you a photo, but this site doesn’t allow it. 30-50 ” long. Not height at the shoulder.

  8. Hobe Sound, Fl. A bobcat was wandering about this AM. Right next to houses and in driveways. It seemed actually tame.

  9. I saw my first Fl.Bobcat this am. Also saw a young Deer,she was stomping her

    Front hooves and making a screaching noise,like she was trying to warn other deer.

  10. A few days ago at 4 am a bobcat came over my gate, up my stairs, pushed my front door open (I guess, I did not have it securely latched), attacked and took my cat from our living room. I live in a rural area so I understand the risks to pets, but it came in through a closed door and entered my house. No fear? That's a problem.

  11. A bobcat kitten came to our house two years ago. It survived under our house in the crawl space with our ferals for a couple of weeks before I actually saw it. Thinking it was a feral–albeit rather large feral–I dropped to my knees to see if it would let me get close which is what we do to determine if the cat is stray or feral. Feral cats won't let you get that close, but abandoned pets or strays who lived with humans usually will. I was able to pet the bobcat from its head to the base of its tail. It was starving, backbone and ribs were protruding. I went into the house to get more canned catfood, which it ate hesitantly. I moved too suddenly and it jumped off our porch and that's when I saw the bobbed tail. I was intrigued with the white patches on its ears. Later I had to see if it was a bobcat and it was. (I have pictures on my wall.) We did have to fight NM Game and Fish Department to come help us trap the little one. The warden who came out didn't believe it was a bobcat until he got a good look at it leaving the premises. We fed it raw chicken and its strength came back. Took us about 3 weeks to trap him. He was released on our local wildlife range. Bobcats are not meant to be pets.

  12. Yes, Bobcats aren't losing any "ideal" habitat actually. I saw one walking with her cubs in the mall last week and she looked very happy in that "ideal" habitat. Then there was the "ideal" petting zoo habitat in the park where a few were kept; an "ideal" rescue shelter habitat for one missing a leg(not sure if from a trap or a car) to recover until it could be released back into its "ideal" habitat, and there are more and more "ideal" habitats of new developments going up so the bobcat can survive, as well as the new "ideal" industrial areas and "ideal" office parks" – not to mention how their "ideal" habitat of highways and interstates are expanding for them to expand and deplete additional "ideal" habitats of their resident small animals/birds/rodents because as we all know, there is an overabundance because we are not allowed to hunt. WOW Dude, short sightedness and close mindedness are not the answer – I have no problem with hunting for food – food only. If humans are the smartest species on earth, why do they have to easily kill things rather than find a way to cope with, or relocate problem wildlife. I guess that's too tough for intelligent humans, you know, those other mammals with an overpopulation problem. Jeesh…….

  13. The claim above that bobcats suffer the total loss of habitat due to development is false. Bobcats are highly adaptive to populated areas, and find ideal habitat in essentially every urban park system and in many neighborhoods. The abundance of habitat and food has contributed to overpopulation, a problem that is exacerbated by the near absence of hunting and trapping in urban areas.

  14. I noticed three in one enclosure. How many can you house together? I thought they were solitary? (I have to design an enclosure for my zoo keeping course and I chose bobcats.)

    1. Only cats who were raised together will tolerate each other as adults…and rarely then. We have to separate everyone at dinner time, even if they REALLY like each other the rest of the time.

  15. Are any tame enough to pet? I noticed some had more wild attitude than others. It looked like one was going blind too. Older bobcat?

    1. Some of them are docile enough to pet, but it is disrespectful for us to lord over them and make them do what we want. Cats are fiercely independent and we do all we can to give them a life of dignity. If I pet a cat, but tell you that you shouldn't buy one as a pet, that would be hypocritical.

    1. *** NOT ALL HUNTERS HUNT FOR SPORT ! Some of us hunt to eat ! Not everyone relies on our Government for welfare to feed us and our children ! As well as , Bobcats eating our food source causes us to go without …

        1. Need to learn to read for context; bobcats if unchecked will kill off the game and wildlife that IS hunted for food. It makes that point pretty clearly…literally states the ‘bobcats eating our food source…”. Not everyone lives in a city or populated environment, and in rural communities, especially ranching areas they can do a lot of damage to wild game and domestic animals raised for food. They don’t need to be killed off, but if one is a particular nuisance or the population grows too large for the resources available, it needs to be handled or relocated, both for humans and species preservation

      1. You would eat a cat? i understand hunting to eat. My husband used to hunt deer. But other measures could be taken to keep the bobcats away from your food source too. Just my opinion.

      2. I don’t hunt for food anymore but I did grow up in a family that had to. We also had to protect our chicken, ducks, geese, we had a couple of milk cows and grew a lot of our own food for a few years. I remember having to get up grab the gun and try to shoot whatever was attacking the poultry, hopefully the flashlight worked or it was a full moon light. We never saw a bobcat, usually coons, possums.

      3. The difference Is being that most humans have the intelligence and the animability to be able to walk into a grocery store and buy food where is bobcats cannot.

      4. Go hunt for some chicken but leave these beautiful Bob Cats alone. Besides lookiing how small these animals are, you won’t get vry much meat from them.

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