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5 Unique Bobcat Colors & How Bobcats Camouflage

Bobcats are generally brown or red but take on colors ranging from gray to reddish brown. They can also be completely black or white although this is rare. They have spots and stripes that help them hide by breaking their silhouette apart. Their color changes depending on factors like region and season.

Bobcats are great predators and have to blend in with their surroundings to stay hidden from prey. As a result, their coats vary from gray and tan to red or orange depending on region and season.

Some bobcats take on mutations that make their coats different. They can be completely black, known as being melanistic. 

White bobcats are even rarer, they are a result of albinism.

In this article, you’ll learn how bobcats use their color patterns to hide and you’ll see all the different colored coats they can have.

How Do Bobcats Hide?

Bobcats hide using a combination of their coat’s colors, patterns, and markings, such as stripes and spots. They camouflage well and adapt according to their surroundings. A hidden bobcat is hard to spot.

How Do Bobcats Hide

Bobcats are masters of staying hidden as they have great camouflaging abilities. 

This is the reason why we so rarely see them. They are usually heard, not seen.

Bobcats have unique markings that help break up their silhouette, aiding in their camouflage. These markings are dotted and striped patterns across their bodies, tails, and faces.

Bobcats also change colors and patterns depending on the region they live in. Bobcats in the south tend to be lighter in color than ones further up north. They also change from darker in the summer to lighter in the winter.

Bobcats Markings

Bobcats have markings ranging from big faded spots to small spots and stripes. These markings are unique to every bobcat and can be used to identify them.

Bobcats Markings

Bobcats’ markings can be used to differentiate them from one another. They are unique to each cat, so spotted and striped patterns vary a lot, acting as a “fingerprint”.[1]

The patterns on bobcats’ fur have some common characteristics across all individuals:

  • More spots and stripes on the back and sides
  • Lighter underside with less or no pattern
  • Black bars on the legs and tail
  • Black tipped ears with white spots on the back
  • Clear facial markings, like a tabby cat

The role of the markings is to camouflage bobcats into their environment and help them when hunting. Spots and stripes break up outlines, so they are harder to see when moving.

Bobcat Colors

Bobcats’ coats can have many colors, from gray and tan to brown and reddish. They use color to adapt to their environment. They change fur color according to the region they are in and seasonal changes.

Colors of Bobcat

Besides spots and stripes, bobcats also use colors to help them camouflage in their surroundings. 

Their coat can be of any color from gray and tan in rocky areas, to dark brown and reddish like a fox in forests and marshes.

They also change colors depending on the seasons. Bobcats in the northern or more temperate ranges vary their colors more than southern ones.

They are light-gray, gray, or tawny-gray in the winter to blend in with the snow and dark or reddish-brown in the summer.[2]

Bobcats’ colors can be placed in one of these categories:

  1. Normal colors: gray, brown, and red
  2. Mutated colors: black and white

The 3 Normal Bobcat Colors

Bobcats are normally a mix of gray, brown, and red, like foxes. This varies depending on where they live and the season. These colors are common and naturally occur in all bobcats.

Bobcats have a wide range of natural, or normal colored coats. 

These are useful as they help bobcats blend into their environment:

  1. Gray
  2. Brown
  3. Red

1. Gray

Gray Bobcat

Anything ranging from a very pale, whitish-gray to a tawny-gray falls into this category. 

Generally, bobcats in the desert or barren mountainous regions take on this fur color. The light coloration helps them blend into dusty and rocky environments so they can stalk their prey easier. 

In temperate regions, especially ones that get snowy in the winter, bobcats’ coats change to a light gray color. This offers better camouflage in the snow.

2. Brown

Brown Bobcat

Brownish colors are the most common for bobcats. Most bobcats have some sort of brown coloration at some point in the year.

The shade of brown can be anything from a very light, pale brown to a color similar to mountain lions, or even darker.

Brown bobcats are found almost everywhere across their habitats, being one of the most versatile colors for blending into the environment. In the northern part of their range bobcats tend to be darker in color.

3. Red

Red Bobcat

Bobcats can range from yellowish-brown fur color (similar to a lightly colored Shiba Inu) to a darker reddish color, resembling that of a red fox.

Reddish coats are common amongst bobcats. The red color is actually where they got their Latin name from, as Lynx rufus means red lynx.

The reddish shades are found around the same areas as the brown ones. Whether or not bobcats’ summer coats are brown or red depends on where they live.

2 Mutated Bobcat Colors

Bobcats can take on mutations that result in distinct coat colors. They can have a black or white coat depending on the mutation that occurs. These are a rare find.

Mutations that change color and appearance can occur in bobcats like in other animals. 

Those mutations are known as melanism and albinism. They turn bobcats’ fur black or white.

Black or white individuals are rarely seen in the wild.

Black Bobcats

Black Bobcats
Image Source

Black bobcats appear as a result of melanism. Melanism happens as a result of a genetic mutation. This results in the overdevelopment of melanin in the skin which turns animals darker or completely black.

Black bobcats are rare, with only about 20 cases recorded across all of North America. People often confuse them with black cougars, of which there are no recorded cases.[3]

If you look closely at melanistic cats, including bobcats, you still see the spots and stripes.

For unknown reasons, most melanistic black bobcats are spotted in Florida.

White Bobcats

White Bobcats
Image Source

White bobcats are extremely rare. They are white as a result of albinism, a mutation that inhibits the production of melanin. Some white bobcats aren’t albinos but still have white coats.

White bobcats are even more elusive than normal ones. There aren’t many reports of actual white bobcats. Alleged sightings come from suburban environments where white Maine Coon cats are mistaken for bobcats.

The elusiveness of a truly white bobcat is mysterious as there are no confirmed reports of such an animal. The only white bobcats that have been photographed and corroborated are normal off-white bobcats in their winter coats.

Bobcats’ Eyes and Nose Colors

Bobcats have yellow eyes and a brownish or pink nose. Their piercing yellow eyes have round, black pupils which widen at night to catch more light. 

If albino bobcats are ever spotted, their eyes will probably be the classic reddish-pink color associated with the mutation.


Bobcats have a variety of colors, most commonly different shades of gray, brown, and red. They can also be black or white. They have markings in the form of stripes and spots all over their bodies to help them blend into their surroundings. Their eyes are yellow, and reflect light at night.


What Color Are Bobcats in the Winter?

Bobcats can have different colors in the winter depending on the region they’re in. In temperate areas, especially ones that get snowfall, bobcats turn a light-gray or off-white color. Otherwise, they keep their usual coats in shades of brown or red.

What Color Are Young Bobcats?

Bobcat kittens are born with the same colors they can have as adults, ranging from gray to brown and red. It depends on their parents’ genes.

About Codrin Frunzete

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