Bobcat (Felis rufus)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family:    Felidae
Size:    Length: 24 to 48 inches (61 to 122 cm)   Height: Up to 24 inches (61 cm)
Weight: 13 to 57 pounds (5.9 to 26 kg)
Diet: Rabbits, rodents, birds, deer
Distribution: North America from southern Canada to southern Mexico
Young:  1 litter (1 to 7 kittens) every year, twice per year in southern parts of their range
Animal Predators:  Kittens are preyed on by coyotes, cougars, wolves, large owls and eagles
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Young: Cub or Kitten
Lifespan: Up to 14 years of age in the wild and up to 32 years in captivity



·         Bobcats are the most common wildcats in the United States.

·         The largest bobcats can be found in Canada.

·         Bobcats can swim, but rarely do so.

·         The lynx is almost identical to the bobcat, but they do not inhabit the same territory.



Bobcats are light brown to reddish brown. Their tail, which is only three to seven inches long, appears to be bobbed, giving them their name. They have a sturdy and powerful body, with long legs and large paws. Their ears are long and sharply-pointed, and some subspecies have tufted ears. 



Bobcats are found in forests, mountains and desert areas, as long as water is available. Rocky hillsides and sparsely treed areas are the preferred territory of these cats. They are extremely territorial and will mark boundaries with their urine and droppings. Bobcats can occupy ranges of up to 125 square miles (201 km). Females occupy smaller areas (which fall within the male’s territory) than males  and generally will not associate with other females. Males will usually accept other males within their home ranges, but not in mating season. 


Feeding Habits

Bobcats can be very aggressive and can kill large animals such as deer, but usually prefer cottontail rabbits, with smaller animals such as mice and birds filling out their diet. They eat approximately 3 pounds (1.3 kg) of meat per day. Being expert climbers, bobcats wait on a low-lying tree branch or a rocky ledge for prey to pass by. They also creep up on prey from behind and kill by pouncing on the animal and biting at the base of the skull.



Males mate with all the available females (usually two or three) within their territory during mating season, which usually occurs during February and March. A litter of one to seven (the average being two or three) spotted kittens are born late April to early May. The kittens’ eyes open within a week and they nurse for two months. As they grow, the kittens’ spots fade to match those of their parents. When they begin to eat solid food, the male cat will bring food to the den for the kittens but when they begin to learn to hunt at the age of five months, he leaves the family to return to his solitary life. The kittens leave home on their own at approximately nine months of age to find territories of their own. 



Bobcats are mostly nocturnal, but depending on the season and the scarcity of food, they can be seen during daylight hours. 



Although bobcats once ranged over a much wider area of the U.S. and Canada, there is no conservation concern for this species. The bobcat population throughout North America is approximately 1,000,000 (2001). 



Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US