A bobcat's ear tufts are thought to improve hearing.
A bobcat's ear tufts are thought to improve hearing.
Photograph by Barrett Hedges / National Geographic Image Collection


A hungry bobcat crouches behind a bush, looking at the field beyond its leafy hideaway. Suddenly, a squirrel darts across the ground. As the squirrel draws near, the cat leaps from the bush and scoops up the prey in its mouth. It’s dinnertime. 

Common Name:
Scientific Name:
Lynx rufus
Average Life Span In The Wild:
10 to 12 years
Head and body: 26 to 41 inches; tail: 4 to 7 inches
11 to 30 pounds

Bobcat versus house cat

Bobcats may look cute and cuddly, but these felines that live throughout North America are actually fierce predators. They can leap as far as 12 feet to catch prey and have been known to take down much larger animals, such as young deer.

The wild feline is about twice as big as a house cat—and a lot faster. It can run at speeds up to 25 to 30 miles an hour, and it’s skilled at swimming. But the wild cat isn’t totally different from a domestic kitty. Both use whiskers like fingertips to help them feel around their habitat and judge whether an opening is big enough to fit through. They’re both also night owls with superb night vision that helps them see in the dark.

The bobcat is one type of lynx. The others are Canada lynx, Iberian lynx, and Eurasian lynx.

Home sweet home

So when the sun comes up, it’s time for the bobcat to go to sleep in its den. Their sleeping spot is usually in a hollow tree or cave of forests, mountains, and brushlands. You probably wouldn’t ever be invited over to a bobcat’s home, though. These felines are solitary and territorial. They mark their domains with their scent as a way to tell other bobcats to back off. Don’t mess with these cute cats!