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Cat vs. Bobcat: Key Differences and Similarities Explained

The main difference between cats and bobcats is their size and tails. They are regularly mistaken for one another. These two felines are efficient, versatile hunters that resemble each other in appearance and behavior. Cats vary a lot in shape and size, going from small to almost the size of a bobcat.

Cats and bobcats are skilled ambush hunters that manage to adapt well to different environments.

But what are the differences?

In this article, we’ll take a look at their differences and similarities, and we’ll see how a fight between them would go down.

Cat vs. Bobcat: An Overview

Cats and bobcats seem similar at a first glance. They are related and have many common characteristics, but differences such as behavior and some physical traits set them apart. For one, bobcats are bigger and have short tails.

Scientific nameLynx rufusFelis catus
Lenght33 inches18 inches
Height18 inches9-10 inches
Weight21 pounds10 pounds
DistributionNorth America, from southern Canada to southern Mexico.All over the world, excepting some islands and Antarctica.
HabitatFrom rocky plateaus and deserts to swamps and forests.Urban and rural areas as well as in the wild.
Lifespan7-10 years15 years
Activity patternCrepuscular, nocturnal.Both diurnal and nocturnal, and also influenced by human activity.

Bobcats are about twice the size of domestic cats. Because of their close relationship with humans, cats have a much longer lifespan and are distributed across the world. 

The activity pattern of cats varies a lot as they can be active at night and during the day, while the bobcat is mainly crepuscular. 

Cat vs. Bobcat An Overview

Differences Between Cats and Bobcats

The main difference between bobcats and cats is their size. Bobcats are twice as large as cats on average. Their tails are also different, as bobcats have short, stubby tails. Cats are also domestic animals while bobcats are wild. 

Bobcats and cats are closely related because they are part of the same biological subfamily.

SpeciesFelis catusLynx rufus

The domestic cat’s lineage and the lynx or bobcat lineage diverged from one another about 7.2 million years ago, when the Lynx genus split from the rest of the subfamily.[1]

Here are the main differences between bobcats and cats:

  • Size: Bobcats are on average twice the size of cats.
  • Tails: Bobcats’ tails are short and stubby (“bobbed”), while cats have long tails.
  • Strength: Bobcats have stronger, longer back legs. Cats’ back legs are similar in length to their front ones.
  • Tufts: All bobcats have prominent ear and cheek tufts while only some cat breeds have them, like Maine coons and Norwegian forest cats.
  • Ears: Bobcats have black ears with white a white spot on the back, called ocelli. These spots are meant to look like eyes. Only some cats have ocelli, and they aren’t as visible.
  • Teeth: Bobcats have only 28 teeth while cats have 30.
  • Activity pattern: Bobcats are crepuscular or nocturnal, rarely diurnal. Cats can be active at any time of the day.
  • Social behavior: Bobcats are solitary while cats can be social. Some feral cats live in large colonies.
  • Wild vs. domesticated: Bobcats are wild animals, while cats are domestic animals.
Differences Between Cats and Bobcats

How to tell The Difference Between Cats and Bobcats

The most reliable way of telling the difference between a cat and a bobcat is their size. Bobcats are about twice the size of cats. Some cat breeds, such as the Maine coon can look similar to bobcats.

If you look at their proportions, cats aren’t as tall as bobcats. They have shorter legs and sit closer to the ground. Bobcats’ back legs are also noticeably longer than their front ones.

Bobcats and tabby cats have similar face markings, but bobcats’ markings are usually darker. 

Bobcats also have some other characteristic markings, black bars on their legs, and a unique tail. 

The tail of a bobcat has a white underside with black stripes and a black tip on the top side.

Related: What Do Bobcats Look Like?

Similarities Between Cats and Bobcats

The main similarity between cats and bobcats is their anatomy. They also have some behavioral similarities, especially when it comes to hunting. Not all cats resemble bobcats, but some breeds look similar.

Bobcats and some cats can look similar. Some cats have markings that resemble those of bobcats. 

Some American bobtail cats (or Pixie-bobs) are easily mistaken for bobcats, especially if you’ve never seen a bobcat up close.

Besides their appearance, some of their behavior is also similar:

  • Some cats are solitary and defensive, like bobcats.
  • They are both carnivores.
  • Cats hunt in the same ways bobcats do. They ambush or stalk their prey over short distances.
  • Like bobcats, male cats don’t usually help in raising kittens.
  • Both cats and bobcats have great vision in low-light settings.

It’s important to recognize that cats are overall more diverse than bobcats and show a variety of behaviors and physical characteristics.

Similarities Between Cats and Bobcats

Are Cats and Bobcats Related?

Yes, cats and bobcats are related. They both belong to the subfamily Felinae, which means they are similar in many ways. Evolution didn’t change them too much, and they still resemble one another.

Bobcats and cats are related. They are classified as part of the same subfamily, Felinae

This subfamily contains species that purr instead of roar. They are mostly small compared to lions and tigers, with some bigger species of the subfamily being mountain lions and cheetahs.

The bobcat genus split from domestic cats about 7.2 million years ago.

As part of the same subfamily, bobcats and cats share many characteristics. Physically, they resemble one another closely. Bobcats are larger, have fewer teeth, and bigger back legs though. 

Their close relation also shows in their behavior. 

Cats and bobcats hunt in a similar fashion, either by ambushing their prey or stalking it over short distances. 

Both species are playful, especially when young. Bobcat and common cat kittens play a lot with their siblings and mother. Play is important in their development.[2]

Are Cats and Bobcats Related

Do Cats and Bobcats Ever Meet?

Yes, cats and bobcats do meet. Across North America, the bobcat’s range overlaps with that of the common cat. Domestic cats run into bobcats near human settlements, while feral cats run into bobcats in the wild.

Bobcats have a wide range across North America, from southern Canada to southern Mexico. ommon cats are also found all across this range, especially close to human settlements.

Bobcats also come into yards. They have adapted to human expansion and to living close to us. Over time, they have learned that they can find food close to humans. They steal pet food and forage for anything edible. 

Bobcats can be dangerous for pets, including cats.[3]

Feral cats also encounter bobcats in the wild, especially in forests. In the wild, bobcats represent too much competition for feral cats to thrive. 

They are larger. more efficient hunters, and almost adaptable as cats.

Cat vs. Bobcats: Who Would Win in a Fight?

A bobcat will always defeat a cat in a fight. Bobcats are larger and stronger than common cats. Bobcats are aggressive, wild animals. Domestic cats, and small dogs, have been killed by bobcats. The larger predator sees them as an opportunity and won’t shy away from attacking.

In a fight between a bobcat and a common cat, the bobcat wins every time. Bobcats are wild animals and they are stronger hunters. They are more aggressive than even feral cats. 

Bobcats are used to hunting prey larger than themselves and are much more experienced predators.

They are also larger than common cats, about twice their size. Their weight alone gives them an advantage over a cat. 

In fights with feral cats, the larger individual usually wins.[4] Their size coupled with their aggressiveness and superior hunting skills makes bobcats clear winners.

Bobcats hunt and eat pets such as cats and small dogs.

Cat vs. Bobcats Who Would Win in a Fight

Can Cats Breed With Bobcats?

No, bobcats can’t breed with cats. They can technically mate, but they don’t produce offspring. Even if it happens it’s pointless. While closely related, they differ too much genetically to make hybrid kittens.

Bobcats and cats can’t produce hybrid kittens. They can physically mate, and it happens sometimes but it is pointless. 

Bobcats and common cats are too genetically different from one another to reproduce. 

Over time many supposed hybrids were shown, regularly owned by people. Even the Pixie Bob Cat breed is said to be a hybrid between bobcats and common cats, but that is untrue.


Bobcats and common cats are closely related, and resemble each other both physically and in behavior. There are differences between them, bobcats being about the twice of common cats. Bobcats are also wild animals while cats, even when feral, can be considered domestic. 

In a fight your average cat won’t stand a chance against a bobcat, so better keep your pets inside.


How to Tell if Your Cat Is Mixed With Bobcat?

Cats can’t mix with bobcats. Cats and bobcats differ too much genetically to breed. That means your cat just happens to have bobcat-like features.

About Codrin Frunzete

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