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Can You Keep Pet Bobcats? (Why It’s a Bad Idea)

Yes, bobcats can be legally kept as pets in several states, although they don’t make good pets. Bobcats are wild, temperamental animals and are not recommended as pets. They are more aggressive than housecats, and twice the size. Keeping a bobcat as a pet is unsafe.

Bobcats are wild animals, but people are still fascinated by their beauty and want them as pets.

Owning a bobcat is not like owning a cat. Even a “tame” bobcat is unpredictable. Taking care of a bobcat is also more difficult than your average cat or dog.

In this article, we’ll take a look at where it’s legal to own a bobcat, what bobcats need to thrive, and why it’s a bad idea for most people.

Do People Keep Pet Bobcats?

Pet bobcats are not unusual in the US, but keeping them as pets is bad for bobcats and owners alike. Bobcats are wild animals and can’t be domesticated. Exotic pets need a lot of attention and care. Most people aren’t able to offer it.

Pet bobcats and “exotic” pets are controversial topics. 

Keeping wild animals as pets is dangerous to the owners and the animals themselves. Taking wild animals from their natural habitat to keep as “pets” is considered selfish, as it disrupts their lives.

Bobcat kittens are frequently taken away from their mothers by humans. They look similar to domestic kittens, but their short tails make the difference. 

If you’re unsure whether a kitten is abandoned, it’s better to leave them alone. If you want to help, seek out professional help.

Do People Keep Pet Bobcats

Can You Legally Have a Pet Bobcat?

Yes, it’s legal to own a bobcat in some states. You can keep bobcats without any permits in Alabama, Delaware, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. In other states, you can legally own a bobcat with the right permits. Check your state’s laws to make sure it’s legal.

You can own a pet bobcat in a couple of states: 

  • Alabama
  • Delaware
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Wisconsin. 

In these states, there are no restrictions on keeping wildcats as pets and anyone can legally do it.

In other states, you can legally keep bobcats and other wildcats as pets if you have a state permit for private ownership of big cats: 

  • Arizona
  • Montana
  • Idaho
  • Texas
  • Missouri
  • Minnesota
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Indiana
  • Pennsylvania
  • Maine

In the remaining US states, owning wildcats is either banned or there are exemptions for certain people or organizations.[1]

Can You Legally Have a Pet Bobcat

Do Bobcats Make Good Pets?

No, bobcats don’t make good pets. Bobcats are wild animals. They are hard to take care of and can be dangerous and destructive. Even when socialized from a young age, they will always be wild. They can be tamed but they will never be domesticated.

Bobcats are not good pets. They are wild animals and can’t fully adjust to living as a pet. Even when raised from a young age. 

A bobcat raised in captivity is less dangerous than one that grew up in the wild, but they’re not domestic animals.

Here are a couple of reasons why most people won’t enjoy a pet bobcat:

  • They can be dangerous.
  • They will destroy furniture or rugs.
  • They need space.
  • You need to dedicate a lot of time to them.
  • They will cost you thousands of dollars to maintain.

Domestic vs. Tamed

Domesticating an animal is different from taming it. 

Domestication is a long and genetic process. Domestic animals become more docile and need humans to thrive. Over time they lose many of their wild aspects, physical as well as social.[2]

Taming an animal is much easier than domesticating it. Taming is getting an animal, like a bobcat, used to interacting and socializing with humans. Tame animals are easier to control than wild ones, and young animals are easier to tame than adults.

Tamed animals still retain many of their wild tendencies. They can be unpredictable and dangerous. They will however be easier to deal with than a completely wild animal.

Bobcats, especially ones raised since they were kittens, are usually tame if socialized properly. They will act similar to how domestic cats act compared with their wild counterparts. 

Tamed bobcats are still dangerous, especially to children and other pets.

Do Bobcats Make Good Pets

Pet Bobcat Behavior

Tame pet bobcats are unpredictable. They still have wild outbursts and can destroy furniture and even hurt people and other pets. They have to get what they want when they want it. People have to adapt to their bobcat’s needs.

How to Take Care of a Pet Bobcat

It takes a lot of work to care for a pet bobcat. They need a lot of attention, especially when they are kittens. They also need a lot of space to move and roam. Their diet is important and must be carefully planned out.

Pet bobcats are difficult. 

The first thing to do when you find a bobcat kitten is to take it to a wildlife rehab center. Here, professionals will take care of it. If you decide to keep a bobcat you’re going to have to learn a lot. 

To care for a bobcat you’ll need to provide it with a lot of attention and make some changes to your lifestyle. Space is important for a bobcat so you have to build them a large enclosure. 

They also need a carefully planned out diet mostly consisting of raw meat after they are weaned.

What Do Pet Bobcats Need?

Pet bobcats need a lot of care, mainly in the form of a good diet and enough space to move around. Raising them from kittens is hard. In the first couple of weeks, they need help with everything, from eating to peeing. 

Bobcats are delicate when they’re young and a lack of attention is detrimental to their health. Raising them is not to be taken lightly. It’s much harder than raising domestic cats and they need more hands-on attention. 

You need to carefully regulate their diets as they grow and make sure they have enough space

Bobcat Diet

Bobcat Diet
Image Source

Bobcats are carnivores, which means they need to eat meat to survive. When raising bobcat kittens, they need special milk formulas to cover all their need. They have to be hand-reared until they can eat by themselves.

This is how you should add solid food to their formula as they grow:

Under 6 weeksThey’re bottle-fed simple formula. They can start lapping formula from a bowl around this age.
At 6 weeksSome chicken or beef baby cat food is added to start introducing solid food.
At 7 weeksSmall pieces of mice are added to their formula. They are still bottle-fed 3 times a day.
At 8 weeksAmount of mice is increased, and bottle-feeding continues.
At 9 weeksMore mice, rat, or rabbit is added to their formula, and bottle-feeding is stopped around this age.
By 11 weeksSolid food intake rises weekly and the formula is slowly taken out of their diet until they are weaned completely.
After 15-16 weeksThey are weaned completely and exclusively eating solid food.

For an adult bobcat, a variety of meat is important. They need a combination of muscle, fat, and organ meat. 

The source of the meat also needs to change occasionally from mice to poultry and gamier meat. Giving them supplements, like vitamin powder is also a good idea.[3]

It’s important to demonstrate the ability to hunt for bobcats that will be released back into the wild after growing. Some live food can be placed in the bobcat’s enclosure after it’s four months old.

Bobcat Housing

Bobcat Housing

Bobcats need an appropriate amount of space as they age. 

Young bobcat kittens can be housed in small secure spaces, like veterinary cages. As they age this enclosure needs to grow. 

By the time they’re nine weeks old they can be moved to an outdoor enclosure. They must have enough space to move around freely. Climbing is also important to young bobcats.

From when they are born until about three weeks old, they need artificial heating. They can’t regulate their body temperatures yet. 

When their fur sheds more they don’t need artificial heat anymore. If moved to an outside enclosure, temperatures at night have to be carefully watched.[4]

Bobcat Health

Bobcat Health

Bobcats need special medical attention. It is hard to even find a willing vet to help treat your bobcat. If you find one, it will probably be expensive. Bobcats kept as pets (especially kittens) can have many health issues.

When they are younger than two weeks old, bobcats need to be stimulated to pee and defecate as they don’t have control over these muscles yet. 

This won’t be a problem for real animal lovers, but it can put off some more casual enthusiasts.

How Much Does a Bobcat Cost?

Bobcats cost around $900 but can get as high as $2500. The cost of purchasing a bobcat is only a small part of the expenses, as you need to make a lot of changes around your house and yard to accommodate the animal.

The average price for a bobcat is generally around $900. Judging from different online vendors, the price can go up to $2500. 

The purchase price isn’t the only cost of owning a bobcat though.

Adapting your house and yard to a bobcat will cost you a couple of thousand dollars. A large enclosure has to be built to keep your bobcat happy and secure. 

Food will also cost you quite a bit. The enzymes and components of their baby formula are one thing, but you’re going to also have to buy a lot of meat. Chicken, mice, and rabbits will have to be supplied daily to your new pet bobcat.


Bobcats can legally be kept as pets in some places, but it isn’t recommended. They are wild animals and even the tame ones still keep their wild tendencies. They are hard to take care of and can be dangerous, especially to children and other pets. 

They are also expensive pets to keep and can set you back thousands of dollars.

About Codrin Frunzete

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