Are Bobcats Dangerous? (To People and Pets)

When you look at bobcats, they appear small, cute, and cuddly, but don’t let that fool you; these felines can be pretty fierce. Although not as large as mountain lions, bobcats are predators and don’t survive by being pushovers.

These little cats can be especially dangerous to small animals. While humans aren’t on their menu, you should be wary and avoid picking a fight with them.

Should I Be Scared Of A Bobcat?

Like almost any wild animal, bobcats can be dangerous if provoked. You should treat them with the same caution as any predator. While you should be wary, there’s no need to panic when dealing with a bobcat. As long as you handle a situation with care, you both should be able to walk away unscathed.

How Dangerous Are Bobcats?

While they regularly hunt smaller animals, bobcats aren’t particularly dangerous to humans, especially compared to their larger cousins. While they can scratch and injure us, it is doubtful they could be of any real danger.

Bobcats are more afraid of us than we are of them. At only three feet long and weighing around 40 pounds, bobcats would rather avoid confronting something as big as a person. That is why bobcat sightings are rare, even in inhabited areas close to their habitat.

That isn’t to say they don’t pose any danger, as bobcats still can cause you a lot of pain if provoked

Do Bobcats Attack People?

Yes, but it is a rare sight. After centuries of being hunted and losing habitat to humans, bobcats have learned it’s better to avoid humans at all costs.

They are pretty shy and prefer to hunt animals smaller than themselves. There are still cases, however, when bobcats attack humans, though these are usually special circumstances. Reasons for why bobcats might attack humans include:

  • Bobcats feel trapped or cornered.
  • They’re defending their young.
  • Humans are encroaching on their territory.
  • They might be carrying diseases such as rabies that make them more aggressive.

Do Bobcats Attack Children?

Yes, though this is incredibly rare. Bobcats avoid all human contact, even children. Children can still be bigger than most bobcats, even at a young age, which is enough to deter the feline. Your children are more likely to get into trouble with neighborhood dogs than with bobcats. 

Despite that, there have been several cases of bobcats attacking children, and even older children aren’t always safe. In many instances, the reason for this is rabies which causes bobcats to act more erratically. 

What To Do If You Encounter A Bobcat In The Wild?

If you encounter a bobcat out in the wilderness, some key tips can allow you to escape the situation:

Do Not Approach or Try to Touch The Bobcat

A common reaction many people have when seeing a bobcat is curiosity; they try to get a closer look or even pet them. While this might be fine for housepets, bobcats are not domesticated and might mistake gestures like this as aggression

If you get too close, these felines might feel cornered, making them more likely to attack out of fear. 

If you encounter a bobcat in the wild, keep your distance and give it space to back away.

Back Away Slowly

Like mountain lions, your movements with a bobcat should be slow and deliberate. That includes how you exit the situation. Keep your eyes on the bobcat to monitor what it does, then slowly back away. 

If you do something sudden or try to run, it might trigger the cat’s instincts and cause it to give chase.

Make Some Noise

If the bobcat isn’t leaving you alone, loud noises can scare them away. Like all cats, bobcats have excellent hearing and are thus sensitive to sound. You can use bells, whistles, and rattlers to make noise to intimidate them. Clapping your hands or yelling can also work if you don’t have anything to make noises with.

Throwing Things

If none of the other things work, throwing things around the bobcat might do the trick. Keep in mind the keyword around the bobcat. If you hit one of these ferocious cats, it might anger it and cause it to fight back. 

Remember, you just want to send a message that you’re dangerous and not afraid, not to start a fight. Small things like rocks, water bottles, or cans should be enough to send them running.

Spray it With Water

If you are in a situation where you have to get rid of a bobcat yourself, one strategy you can try is to spray them with water. Like housecats, these felines aren’t too fond of water, so spraying them with water might irritate them and send them running away. 

Using a hose or a bucket is one possible method, though it is important to remember that this should be a last resort. This might anger a bobcat, so keep a safe distance from them.

Should I Worry About Seeing A Bobcat In My Yard?

Since bobcats prefer to avoid humans, this is an unlikely scenario, but it’s not unheard of. Sometimes bobcats may venture into populated areas for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Bobcats might have territory nearby.
  • It might be after your pets or livestock.
  • There might be food that attracts it.

Yes, bobcats can potentially be somewhat dangerous enough in the wild, but if you find one in your backyard, things can suddenly get much more complicated. This situation can be worrisome since there are many more factors to consider, so you must handle it carefully.

Keep Your Pets and Family Inside

Probably the most important thing is to keep everyone as far away from the bobcat as possible. If you have pets or family in the house, get them inside at once and close the door behind you. That way, if the bobcat does become hostile, you can keep everyone safe.

Housepets are the most likely target of a bobcat if they get into your property, so you should keep a close eye on them.

Report Bobcats to the Authorities

If you are sure that a bobcat is skulking around, call animal control at once and report the sighting. Animal control can be down there with a team to help remove the bobcat from your property, safely and humanely.

Although it’s tempting to try and handle the situation yourself, it’s best to let the professionals take over, especially if the bobcat is unusually aggressive. That might be a sign of rabies, so animal control might need to take care of it. All you should worry about is keeping your family safe.

Keep Watch of the Situation

Once you reach safety, it’s important that you still keep watch of the bobcat and what it’s doing. Keep a close eye on it from behind a window if you can. Take note of what it does and where it goes, that might give you a clue to what it wants. That extra information might also be helpful for animal control, so they have a better idea of the situation.

Can Bobcats Be Dangerous To Pets?

You should be very careful with your pets if bobcats are nearby. Although bobcats attacking pets is uncommon since bobcats prefer to avoid humans, these things do happen. Bobcats also may be attracted to the scent of pet food and get drawn to your property.

Bobcats are opportunistic hunters, so if they see your pets outside unattended, they might see it as an easy meal and risk attacking. 

While they aren’t particularly large, these fearsome felines are still larger than housecats and many dog breeds, meaning they can easily overpower and take them down. Animals such as birds and rodents are especially vulnerable since those are bobcats’ natural prey, and they might even go after livestock if they aren’t adequately secured.

Their sharp teeth and claws can do a lot of damage to unsuspecting pets. Aside from their natural abilities, bobcats carry diseases such as rabies. Even if they don’t seriously hurt your pets, they might be able to transmit these diseases.

This will be less of an issue with larger dogs, though, since they might be able to fight off bobcats.

To avoid problems like this, make sure that you keep a close eye on your pets and don’t let them out in the backyard alone, especially at night. 

How to Prevent Bobcat From Entering Your Property

Prevention is better than cure, as the saying goes, especially if it involves wild animals entering your home. While the risks are already small, you can still take certain measures to reduce that risk even more.

Keep Your Backyard in Good Condition

While this might sound odd, taking care of your backyard is the simplest and most effective thing you can do to avoid bobcats coming near. Bobcats are clever little guys, and if there is a way to get into your property, they will find it. 

Their small size also works in their favor, allowing them to crawl through small fence openings or climb over poorly constructed fences. They might even break into the stables of small animals such as chicken coops on farms.

They can also easily hide in bushes or trees if you don’t correctly trim them. Plants provide them with extra cover, so your pets might not even realize they are in danger.

That is why you should always ensure your fences are strong enough to avoid one of these clever animals getting through. They should be at least six feet high and continue several inches underground. A slight angle at the top of the fence can also make it harder for bobcats to climb to the top and hop over.

Don’t Leave Any Food Outside

One of the biggest motivations for animals to do anything is food; bobcats are very opportunistic regarding their next meal. If they see you leaving food or small animals outside unattended, they will take the chance and try to break in for a snack. It doesn’t even need to be meat; things like pet food or fruits from your garden might be enticing enough for them to break in. 

Always keep your food inside and locked away from bobcats in order to dissuade them from trying to enter.

Monitor the Outside of Your House

If you live near the woods, it will pay to look at the surrounding area from time to time. Among the reasons mentioned earlier as to why bobcats might enter your home is their territory being nearby. So that means they might be trying to protect something like their young. 

If that is the case, it gives you the information you need to understand the situation. While we don’t suggest trying to force them to leave, you can report this to the authorities, who might be able to help you. 

Can Bobcats Be Friendly With Humans?

Yes, just as how bobcats can become aggressive and attack humans, they can also become friends with us. Occasionally, bobcats and humans get past the fear and confusion and become companions. Usually, this happens when these little felines are still young and grow up around humans, so they get used to their presence.

One example of this was when a Nevada resident by the name of Mr. Johnson found and took care of a bobcat kitten around his property. The two of them would remain companions for nearly twenty years after that. 

For some people, it might inspire the idea of having one of these little fuzzballs as a pet, but it is essential to remember that bobcats are wild animals, and keeping them with you poses a risk to you and any s and people nearby.

A Bobcat That Doesn’t Appear Afraid Might Be Sick!

Yes, a lot of the aggressive attacks can be explained in one word: rabies. Like cats and dogs, bobcats can get rabies due to contact with infected saliva from other animals. The virus that causes rabies then affects the infected animals’ brains, making them more aggressive. 

This is why bobcats with this disease tend to deviate from normal behavior. Rather than shying away from humans, they attack them. Some may even go after entire groups of people.

Standard hazing techniques for trying to frighten and intimidate these animals might not work when this happens since it overrides their normal instincts. Instead, your best bet is to find somewhere safe and call the authorities.

Author: Quade Ong

Hello there, my name is Quade. I have been a writer for three years but an animal lover for over two decades. I grew up in one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, which has given me the blessing of seeing all sorts of beautiful animals. Now I strive to learn not just about the animals I am from, but those all over the world!

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