Natural Histories

photograph of a Sunda Pangolin


Lynx rufus


Bobcats are a cat-looking animal with ruffs of fur on the sides of the head (looking like sideburns). They have buff/brown fur with dark brown/black stripes and spots on some parts of the body. This species has a very short tail with a black tip. There are short tufts of fur on the tips of the ears and black fur on the backs of the ears.


The bobcat can be found throughout North America, the population densities are highest in the southeastern United States. They live in a variety of habitats including forests, semi-deserts, mountains, and brush lands. This species sleeps in dens located in hollow trees, thickets or rocky crevices. Bobcats are very territorial, the home range of a male often overlaps of that of several females and may also overlap the territory of another male. The home ranges of females are smaller than that of the males and do not overlap with the home ranges of other females.

Feeding Behavior and Diet

Bobcats are carnivorous cats, eating only meat. This species consumes rodents, rabbits, small ungulates (hoofed animals such as young deer), large ground birds, and occasionally reptiles and domesticated animals. They stalk their prey before pouncing and killing their prey by biting the vertebrae of the neck. On rare occasions, bobcats will attack humans.


This species mates in early spring. Bobcats have a mating system similar to domestic cats; they only come together for breeding and they have multiple breeding partners. 60-70 after mating, a litter of about 3 kittens is born. The eyes of the young do not open until they are ten days old and are nursed by the mother for two months. After weaning the young, the mother then brings meat to the kittens and teaches them to hunt. The male bobcats are not involved in caring for the young. At 8 months old the young leave their mother during the winter.

Months and Times of Activity

Bobcats are mostly solitary animals, except during breeding season. They are nocturnal cats but are often active at dusk.

Special Features, Stories, Relationships

  • Bobcats are named for their short tails because they appear to have been “bobbed” or cut off.
  • Bobcats are very good climbers.
  • The subspecies of bobcat Lynx rufus escuinapae (the Mexican bobcat of central Mexico) is listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an endangered species.
  • For Native American legends featuring bobcats go to:
  • Children’s book featuring this animal: Bobcat Rescue by  Susan Hughes


 Ciszek, D. 2002. "Lynx rufus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed November 03, 2014 at