When you look at the picture above, can you easily spot the red-furred bobcat staring back at you? Now imagine the same setting, but this time you’re in the actual moment when the photographer took the photo. Would you still be able to identify a camouflaged bobcat from miles away in a thick forest?
A Shawnee Indian tale tells us that a bobcat’s spots were from the fire embers that burned the cat’s coat when a witty rabbit outsmarted the bobcat. While the rabbit persuaded the bobcat to boil some water that the cat supposedly would use to cook the rabbit, it escaped and mottled the bobcat’s coat instead.
Whether the tale really happened or not, the important thing is that bobcats now have black-spotted fur that helps them to hide and blend well in their environment. So join Floofmania as we identify similar-looking animals whom you might get confused with their mottled coat or their reddish-gray fur.
Bobcats’ Fellow Lynx Species
Table of Contents
The bobcat’s scientific name, Lynx rufus, literally translates to its common name, “red lynx”. Although its fur color can sometimes vary from light to dark hues, its reddish-brown coat is the main reason for its name.
The bobcat is the smallest species of the four members of the Lynx genus. Weighing only 13 to 30 pounds, the cat has a length of 3 feet from its head to its tail and stands at only 1.8 feet from its shoulders.
In general, bobcats and all the other lynx species look very similar, especially from afar. Yet a valuable tip to tell them apart is to look at their ear tufts.
Most lynx species grow their black tufts longer than an inch, but these are shorter on bobcats. In fact, it can be pretty challenging to spot the small ear tufts on a bobcat’s ears even when you’re standing a moderate distance from the animal.
Here are some other subtle differences that can greatly help you in telling the Lynx species apart from one another:
|Characteristic||Bobcat||Other Lynx Species (Eurasian, Iberian, and Canadian Lynxes)|
|Feet||Smaller with some short fur on paws||Larger and fully covered with fur (like snowshoes)|
|Tail Banding||Banded with black stripes||No banding|
|Tail Tip Color||Black at the top while white at the bottom||Completely black|
While bobcats are the smallest lynxes, Eurasian Lynxes are the largest members of their bunch. They are the most numerous and widespread cats in the Middle East, western Europe, and northern Asia.
Both bobcats and Eurasian lynxes have black-spotted reddish-brown coats. However, a Eurasian lynx will replace its short, red fur with a thick, gray coat during winter.
Meanwhile, a bobcat living in a desert region will likely have lighter-colored fur than a cat in a forest.
Also known as (A.K.A.): Spanish Lynx
The Iberian Lynx is an endangered species, while the other lynxes’ numbers, including bobcats, are of the least concern. You can only find them in Spain and Portugal’s reproduction centers and reintroduction sites.
A bobcat and a Spanish lynx have similar body weights. But the lynx tends to have a spotted yellowish-brown coat color, while the bobcat usually has a reddish-brown one. The Iberian lynx also has long, black ear tufts.
A.K.A.: Canada Lynx, North American Lynx
Out of the four Lynx species, the Canadian Lynx and bobcat appear to be the most similar to one another. They have pretty close weights and measurements and share the same favorite prey – snowshoe hare.
Bobcats and Canadian Lynxes also share the North American continent. But bobcats dominate the Mexican deserts, temperate forests and mountains, and the warmer Canadian Northwoods. While you can commonly find Canadian lynxes in Alaskan and Canadian snow forests.
It can be pretty challenging to tell a bobcat apart from a Canadian lynx when you spot an animal matching their descriptions along the U.S.A. – Canada border. These two cats coexist within these areas.
So here’s a bullet list of features you can look out for to tell the two apart:
- Coat Color: Bobcats have spotted fur, while the Canada lynxes’ coat lacks distinguishable markings on its uniform stone-colored hair.
- Legs and Paws: As mentioned earlier, lynxes have large, biological snowshoes that create extra traction to navigate snowy terrains easily. A Canadian lynxes’ legs are also longer to help them hunt and chase prey. Unfortunately, the bobcats’ feet aren’t well-adapted to the snow, so they like to live in warmer environments.
- Tail: Although both of the wild cats have “bobbed”-tails, a bobcat (8 inches) has a longer tail than the Canada lynx (5 inches).
Here’s a table enumerating the weights and measurements of the four Lynx species:
|Bobcat||13 to 30 pounds||3 feet||1.8 feet|
|Eurasian Lynx||57 to 77 pounds||3.5 feet||2.5 feet|
|Iberian Lynx||20 to 28 pounds||3.3 feet||2.1 feet|
|Canadian Lynx||18 to 31 pounds||2.9 feet||2 feet|
Bobcats’ Fellow Wild Cats
Although the bobcat is aptly named the red lynx, its coat can vary according to the location and season. Aside from reddish-brown, its fur can also come in grayish-tan color.
A bobcat’s forelegs have noticeable black bars or bands and dark streaks on the body. At the same time, its chin, lips, and underbelly have white-colored markings.
Bobcats belong to the cat family (Felidae). Under their family, felids are further categorized into subfamilies. And bobcats are part of the Felinae subfamily, differentiating their group from big cats like lions and leopards.
A little fun fact:
The bobcat’s Feilnae subfamily comprises small to medium-sized cats capable of purring but not roaring. The hyoid cartilage is bony in these small cats’ throats while fleshy in the mighty lion so they can exert their dominance through roars, but small cats can’t.
Without further ado, let’s now take a look at how bobcats fare with their relatives in terms of appearance and size:
|Bobcat||Lynx||13 to 30 pounds||3 feet||1.8 feet|
|Mountain Lion||Puma||90 to 200 pounds||9 feet||2.5 feet|
|Jaguarundi||Herpailurus||8 to 20 pounds||3.3 feet||1.1 feet|
|Caracal||Caracal||18 to 42 pounds||4.4 feet||1.6 feet|
|Serval||Leptailurus||20 to 40 pounds||4.1 feet||2 feet|
|Jungle Cat||Felis||4 to 35 pounds||3.3 feet||1.1 feet|
|European Wildcat||Felis||6 to 18 pounds||3.3 feet||1.3 feet|
|Highlands Tiger||Felis||5 to 16 pounds||3.2 feet||1.1 feet|
|Fishing Cat||Prionailurus||11 to 35 pounds||3.5 feet||1.3 feet|
|Pallas’s Cat||Otocolobus||6 to 10 pounds||3.1 feet||1.1 feet|
A.K.A.: Cougar, Puma, Panther, Painter, Catamount
Both bobcats and cougars are solitary animals. They are elusive to humans, and the chances of encountering any one of them are slim.
But it’s obvious that the tawny mountain lion is much bigger than the bobcat. The bobcat’s body length is just a third of the cougar’s, including its 2 feet ropey tail. Both cats, however, have black-tipped tails.
At this point, you might be puzzled why we are comparing the biggest cat in North America to the much smaller bobcat.
The fact of the matter is that people DO confuse mountain lions with bobcats!
Researchers are concerned about the possible ramifications when these two cats get mixed up. People may take matters into their own hands and promote trophy hunting which could quickly deplete any species’ numbers.
Most reported sightings and trail cam or security footage are recorded at night. When the video is grainy, it’ll be pretty hard to identify a bobcat’s mottled coat or a puma’s rounded ears. Poor light and weather conditions or far distances could also easily fool your naked eyes into misidentifying an animal.
A.K.A.: Weasel Cat
The Jaguarundi is also called a Weasel Cat. It has features that mustelids like otters have, like small, round ears, long bodies with relatively short extremities, and long tails. Its tail can reach up to 1.6 feet alone.
Even though the weasel cat has a uniform gray or red coat, intermediate shades are also observable in some cats (like the one in the photo above). This fur coloration can be comparable to bobcats, as well as the white markings on their lips and snouts.
A.K.A.: Desert Lynx
Caracals live in Africa and Asia. They have dense ear tufts that droop or curve down as they age – they even look like human eyebrows at times! But, unlike bobcats, the tufts can reach almost 2 inches, making them the animals with the longest ear tufts.
Also, desert lynxes have no markings on their coats as bobcats do with their spotted fur. Instead, they have a uniform reddish-tan or sandy coat color with some white hues on their bellies.
A.K.A.: Giraffe Cats
Servals are native to Africa. They are sometimes called Giraffe Cats as they have the longest legs out of all the cats in the Felidae family! It’s an impressive sight to look at in the picture above.
Their golden to buff coats are black striped and spotted similarly to a bobcat’s mottled reddish to gray fur. Both cats also have black-tipped tails.
Both servals and bobcats also appear to have ear furnishings. These furnishings are the tiny protruding hairs in their ears. Many believe it aids in picking up small sound vibrations together with their ear tufts.
A.K.A.: Swamp Cat, Reed Cat, Jungle Lynx
Like bobcats, jungle cats either feature a reddish-brown or a gray coat, but Swamp Cats don’t have spots in their fur like the former. But like bobcats, swamp cats have short (0.6 inches) ear tufts.
The jungle cat is the largest Felis species. Due to its short ear tufts, tail, and long legs, the Reed Cat resembles the Lynx species (which includes a bobcat) – giving them their Jungle Lynx name.
The European Wildcat’s brownish-gray fur looks similar to the bobcat’s lighter coat. They also have black-tipped tails, although the wildcat’s dark-ringed tail is far longer. It usually exceeds slightly more than half its body length (1.1 feet).
Both European wildcats and bobcats tend to be nocturnal and would do everything in their power to stay away from humans. In fact, the wildcat can travel over 8 miles at night while bobcats patrol 2 to 7 miles of their territories to also hunt for food at night.
A.K.A.: Scottish Wildcat
The Highlands Tiger is a subspecies of the European Wildcat that live in the British Isles, especially in Scotland. These wildcats are descendants of domestic cats. The Wildcats, however, have larger skulls, longer limbs, and overall heavier body sizes than household cats.
The Scottish wildcat has a black-tipped tail like a bobcat. But unlike the European wildcat, the tiger has a much darker coat and a solid tabby pattern in its fur. Also, instead of spots like a bobcat, the Highland tiger’s body is black-striped, enabling them to hide in burrows and thick vegetation easily.
While it is easy to think of the Scottish Wildcat as a domestic cat, humans should give these shy, but aggressive when provoked cats their space at all times. Here’s a video to get to know these wildcats more:
The fishing cat’s favorite prey is fish. Even though bobcats don’t like to get wet, they are good swimmers and eat fish and seafood. Nevertheless, both cats have webbed feet and sharp claws that help them traverse the water and hunt for prey in the aquatic environment.
The fishing cat’s yellowish to ashy tan coat color is striped and spotted with black markings of variable sizes. While a bobcat’s ears are triangular, the fishing cat’s ears are small, short, rounded, and set low on its head.
Interestingly, both cats have white spots on the back of their ears.
Most researchers suggest that mothers use these to help their kittens follow them in dim light. And a bobcat mom also stops in her tracks and then raises her white-bottomed tail to redirect her kittens when they fall too far behind her while traveling at night.
A Manul is about the size of an average pet cat. It may appear to be stocky, but it’s all just fluff. Pallas Cats have the densest fur out of all the cats in the world because they need to keep warm in the extreme temperatures of the Himalayas.
The Pallas cat’s coat color can have yellowish-red to tan hues during summer and winter, respectively. These colors look quite similar to a bobcat’s fur, just like the white circles surrounding both of the cats’ eyes. But unlike bobcats, manuls have foot-long bushy tails.
Do you want to learn more about these expressive cats? Watch the video below to know the reason behind their low-set small ears and their rounded pupils, which are quite a unique feature in their Felinae subfamily:
Bobcats’ Domestic Cat Lookalikes
Your resident feline companion or your beloved pet cat, Felis catus, is a member of the Felidae family. And they are the only domesticated species in the group. Like bobcats and the earlier mentioned wild cats, house cats belong to the same Felinae subfamily.
It’s no wonder why many people would describe bobcats as large domestic cats. And in fact, bobcats have almost twice the body size of a household cat.
Another feature bobcats are famous for are their “bobbed” tails. Bobcats got their names from their identifying stubbed and banded white-colored tails.
A bobcat’s face also appears wide because of the ruff of fur that encircles its face. These hairs are most noticeable under the corners of its chin.
Like dogs, domestic cats have also developed into several breeds, each with its own physical features and behaviors. Let’s now familiarize ourselves with a few cat breeds and find out if there are animals with the same characteristics as a wild bobcat.
American Bobtail Cat
American Bobtails look like bobcats because of their:
- short, stubbed tail (usually only a half to a third of a regular cat’s long tail)
- muscular bodies
- longer hind legs
As if their tabby coats weren’t enough to complete their bobcat look, these bobtails also inherit the wild cat’s hunting skills. For example, the American bobtail stalks its toys, similarly to how it would hunt its rodent prey in the wild. It then carries the toy in its mouth once it has successfully “caught” it.
A.K.A.: Highlander Shorthair, Highland Lynx
Highland Lynxes are large, exotic-looking cats. Their black spots and markings are more pronounced and are much darker than other bobcat-looking household felines.
The highlander’s loosely curled ears add an adorable touch to their unique look. Their ears are also tufted and have furnishings or hairs sticking out from them like a bobcat’s ears also do.
Highlander cats surprisingly love water, unlike their wild cat relatives and lookalikes (bobcats). They often play in the water and may even join their owners in the pool or tub. On the other hand, bobcats are not huge fans of water but still need to drink it to quench their thirst and cross it to hunt for food.
Pixie-bobs are domestic miniatures of bobcats, and they have a characteristic pear-shaped face. Aside from having the very same reddish-gray coat as bobcats, here are other features that make pixie-bobs the tiny replicas of the wild cat:
- Have white fur around their eyes and under their chins
- Have ear tufts and furnishings
- Have short, bobbed tails
- Are large-boned with longer hind legs (bobcats use them to leap and jump more effectively in the wild)
- Are massive and muscular
Cat owners, however, have observed the pixie-bobs being more “dog-like” in nature. Their pixies love to play fetch and walk on leashes. Imagine having a loyal and playful “dog” in a wild bobcat’s body!
Maine Coon Cat
A.K.A.: Gentle Giant
Maine coon cats are some of the biggest domesticated cats, if not the largest ones. People call them “gentle giants” because of their highly sociable nature. In fact, they are the 3rd most popular cat breed in the world!
Their long to medium coats can vary in different colors. Still, the grayish-tan fur, like the one in the picture above, looks pretty similar to bobcats. The coons also have ear tufts and furnishings in addition to the big tufts of hair on their paws.
Domestic Shorthair Cat
A.K.A.: Moggy, House Cat, Alley Cat
A domestic shorthair isn’t actually an official cat breed. Instead, the collective term characterizes short-haired house cats coming from mixed ancestry. So it also wouldn’t be surprising to find cats in this group with a wide variety of patterns and coat colors.
For example, Mr. B or BeeJay is a huge domestic shorthair cat that looks and actually weighs like a bobcat! With 26 pounds of pure “chonk”, a black-spotted tabby brown coat color, and a black-tipped tail, it’ll be pretty hard to tell Mr. B apart from a wild bobcat.
American Lynx Cat
American lynxes’ spotted coats have some resemblance to bobcats’ mottled fur. Like bobcats, they also have short or bobbed tails. However, their cat breed is only experimental. Many cat organizations don’t recognize it, and only the Rare and Exotic Feline Registry does.
Here’s a table showing the mentioned cats’ average weights:
|Bobcat||13 to 30 pounds|
|American Bobtail||7 to 16 pounds|
|Highlander||10 to 20 pounds|
|Pixie-Bob||8 to 11 pounds|
|Maine Coon||8 to 18 pounds|
|Domestic Short-Haired||8 to 13 pounds|
|American Lynx||13 to 22 pounds|
While there is no doubt that a bobcat is indeed a small wild cat, the animal may also look like its fellow carnivores – dogs. Dogs or canids belong to the Canidae family, like how cats or felids belong to the Felidae family.
Out of the 34 to 37 listed species, two canids have a few physical resemblances to bobcats:
|Bobcat||13 to 30 pounds||3 feet||1.8 feet|
|Iberian Fox||10 to 31 pounds||3.7 feet||1.5 feet|
|Coyote||25 to 35 pounds||3.5 feet||1.8 feet|
A.K.A.: Iberian Red Fox
Iberian foxes are subspecies of the Red Fox. Its height and weight are comparable to bobcats, as well as its dull red or buff-tinted fur. The foxes’ jaw and chest are also white-frosted like a bobcat. The Iberian fox might also have a white or black-tipped tail to finish its look.
The coyote’s fur can come in many variations depending on its location. But the predominant coat color among the canid species is a light gray to reddish fur interspersed with black and white details. These colors resemble the lighter hair color of bobcats’ coats.
Although bobcats and coyotes have the same standing height from their shoulders, coyotes are larger than the said wild cats. Bobcats are also wary of coyotes because they are one of their predators.
Hello! My name is Graciola Galo, but my friends call me “Gra” – so can you! Aside from being a dog lover, my bachelor’s degree in biology has helped me develop a deep appreciation for animals. I look forward to learning more about all kinds of wildlife in every future article I write for Floofmania and I aspire to impart that same awe and wonder to you, too!