North America, southern Canada to Baja, California and central Mexico


Forests, mountainous areas, semi-deserts, brushland. Terrestrial. Shelter is found in small caves or rocky dens.


The body is short. The legs are long and heavy. The feet are furred, allowing the animal to travel quickly on top of snow without falling through. The tail is characteristically very short, has indistinct black rings and is tipped black only on the upper side. Coloring of the body varies considerably between different races and can often be linked with the habitat. The coat is of various shades of buff and brown, spotted and lined with black and brownish-black, and streaked black on the crown. The backs of the ears are heavily marked with black, and display unique and characteristic long tufts of fur. The belly is white with small spots. In general, the buff bobcat is common in desert country, whereas the cat from the forests is darker. Canadian species are taller with slightly different markings on the tail and ears, but still exhibit the unique ear tufts, short tail and proportionately long legs.


The bobcat is a territorial, solitary and crepuscular cat (active at dawn and dusk). The male will mark its territory by spraying and scratching trees. Its range expands and diminishes in inverse proportion to the abundance of prey. It is a creature of habit, having favorite ledges, trees, or trails that are repeatedly used. The bobcat is a patient and furtive hunter. The hunt occurs almost exclusively on the ground by stalking (as opposed to ambush from trees). The kill is made with a bite at the base of the skull (crushing the cervical vertebrae), while the predator is atop the back of its prey. It is a vital and essential check on the populations of rabbits and rodents that destroy cultivated crops and wild flora.


Bobcats are induced ovulators (ovulation occurs during and in response to copulation), therefore, breeding can occur any time of the year. Spring, however, is the season when Felids breed most frequently (this is also true of domestic felines). Breeding is the only occasion when two cats will socialize.

Interesting Facts:

Bobcats can take down deer in the winter when the snow pack hampers the deers movement.

Did YOU Know?    
The bobcat is named for its short, bobbed tail.
Native Utah Animal
Class: mammals
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felis
Genus: Felis
Species: rufus
Length: 25-41 inches
Height: 17-23 inches
Weight: 16-28 lbs
Average Lifespan: 12-13 years
Wild Diet: Rabbits and hares, rodents, birds, bats reptiles and even adult deer
Zoo Diet: Commercial feline meat mixture, minerals and vitamins
Predators: Humans, cougar, coyote and wolf. Fox and owl may prey on kittens if possible
USFWS Status: Not Listed
CITES Status: Not Listed
Where at the Zoo? South Pathway

Learn more about mammals or animals from North America!
Or, cross-reference the two!