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Bobcat Diet: What Do Bobcats Eat?

Bobcats are predatory carnivores and mainly eat small prey animals. They eat almost anything they can catch. They are very efficient hunters and choose to hunt what is mostly available in their habitat.

Bobcats mostly eat medium-sized animals, rarely attempting to hunt anything bigger than themselves. Although they do possess the ability to do so.

As they are felines, they feed on the same things as other cats: meat.

But how do they catch their prey, and what animals do they prey on?

In this article, we’ll offer you the answers to these questions and more about the Bobcat.

What Do Bobcats Eat?

Bobcats eat meat, no matter the species it originates from. They are carnivores, relying primarily on animal protein for nutrition. Bobcats don’t refuse a juicy piece of meat, as long as they can catch the animal.

Depending on what’s available to them they will eat a wide variety of animals:

  1. Insects
  2. Small birds, reptiles, and rodents
  3. Medium-sized mammals, reptiles, and birds
  4. Big mammals
  5. Smaller livestock (such as pigs, sheep, goats, and poultry)
  6. Even pets (like smaller dogs and cats)

1. Insects

Grasshopper on the leaves

Bobcats are in no way insectivores, but they do eat insects on occasion. They use their keen senses to catch insects such as grasshoppers.

While a few bugs are not enough to sustain a Bobcat, they provide a bit of easy nutrition.

2. Small Animals

Bobcats Eat Small Animals
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Bobcats are great at taking advantage of the environment around them. They don’t shy away from catching smaller animals including lizards, snakes, and small birds. They can even catch birds mid-flight. 

In some regions, bobcats’ main sources of food are small mammals, especially rodents such as squirrels, mice, and rats.

The bobcat is efficient enough to catch such prey regularly, so they rarely find themselves lacking food.

3. Medium-Sized Animals

Bobcats frequently hunt and eat hares, rabbits, or similar-sized animals. They make for filling meals, as they are good sources of protein.[1]

Because bobcats are such efficient hunters, hare-sized animals are always open season for bobcats. They even catch reptiles and birds that scare humans away, such as snakes.

4. Big Mammals

While it’s not their preferred prey, bobcats do hunt bigger animals such as deer, pronghorn, and elk. Hunting these larger animals comes with a risk, which is why bobcats normally refrain from hunting them.

When they do hunt large mammals, they tend to target fawns, juveniles, or weak individuals, as these are easier to kill than adults.

5. Small Livestock

Bobcats Eat Small Livestock

While not the greatest menace to domestic animals, bobcats do pose a threat to smaller-sized livestock and poultry. This includes sheep, goats, and pigs.

Bobcats are also more than capable of making domestic birds disappear from yards and farms, including ducks, chickens, and geese.

6. Pets

Bobcats do attack pets on occasion. While big dogs and maybe other larger-sized pets are safe, your average small dogs and cats are most certainly in danger. 

Even if you have a larger dog, do not walk it without a leash, especially around trails. It might run off and have an encounter with a bobcat or other wild animals.

While bobcats usually don’t attack large dogs with the intent to hunt them, they are capable of doing a lot of damage, especially if they feel threatened.

Are Bobcats Carnivores or Omnivores?

Bobcats are carnivores. Carnivores are animals that primarily or solely eat meat, while omnivores eat both meat and plants to survive. While bobcats do eat the occasional berry, the majority of their diet is meat.

Bobcats are, like all other felines, carnivores, meaning they eat meat to survive. However, they still occasionally consume plant materials.

Are Bobcats Carnivores or Omnivores
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The Bobcat’s Diet

Bobcats’ diet of meat varies a lot, depending on the region they live in and the prey available to them in said region. This includes rabbits, hares, squirrels, and other small animals.

What Do Bobcats Like to Eat?

Bobcats’ preferred prey across all regions according to many studies seems to be rabbits and hares.[2] 

Bobcats tend to hunt and feed on the regional species of hares or rabbits available. In the northern United States, studies show that Bobcats prefer snowshoe hare to other types of prey. In the Potosino-Zacatecano Plateau of Mexico, they prefer eastern cottontail rabbits.

Regardless of its preferred prey, this North American feline is not a choosy beggar, eating a wide variety of food.

Bobcat populations towards the south get a larger amount of their nutrition from smaller animals compared to the average northern bobcat’s diet. This is because of the abundance of such prey.

Because they hunt smaller animals, they find themselves in competition with foxes, hawks, and falcons.

Bobcats vs. Lynxes

When comparing bobcats and lynxes, they appear much more versatile in their diet.

Because of this versatility, they do not need to specialize in one kind of prey.

To put this into perspective, the Canada lynx which shares territories with the bobcat will hunt snow hares regardless of its availability.

Meanwhile, in ranges that the Bobcat shares with the lynx, the former switches to hunting more squirrels and other smaller rodents if these are more available. 

A Montana-based study shows that western groups of bobcats ate much more small rodent meat compared to their eastern counterparts. While they share territory with the lynx, bobcats feed more on squirrels and rats, even if hares are abundant.[3]

Bobcats vs. Lynxes

What Do Baby Bobcats Eat?

Baby bobcats drink their mother’s milk, like any other felines. They do so until they are able to start eating meat, which happens around the age of two months.

Baby Bobcats are called kittens. At the beginning of their life, they feed on their mother’s milk. They are completely dependent on their mother, as they can’t see or do much by themselves.[4]

The kittens are weaned after about two months. At this stage, they start eating meat that their mother catches and brings to them. 

Between the age of three and five months, they start traveling with their mother. If they were born in April or May (as is most common) they start hunting by themselves in the fall of the same year.

How Often Do Bobcats Eat?

Bobcats eat as often as they can. They take advantage of any opportunity to eat and store their food if they don’t eat all of their prey in one sitting.

Bobcats are inherently opportunistic predators.

Similar to the other three species in the Lynx genus, they prefer to eat regularly. They catch smaller prey daily, such as hares, or hunt for larger prey every other day.

They aren’t always successful on their hunts though, either because of the time of the year or a lack of suitable prey.

When the prey animals that they prefer to hunt are scarce, bobcats usually hunt bigger animals, such as deer, pronghorn, or the rare elk.

When and if a Bobcat manages to catch and kill larger prey, it eats as much as it needs at the time and stashes the carcass for later consumption. Bobcats hide the rest of their meals by burying them in snow or beneath the leaves.

How Often Do Bobcats Eat
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Do Bobcats Eat Humans?

Bobcats do not actively hunt humans. They can hurt humans if they want to, but they are elusive, shy, and solitary animals so they prefer to stay out of our way.

While not a giant animal by any means, the Bobcat is not to be taken lightly. It can be very dangerous to humans, though they never attack.

They are medium-sized felines, on average about twice as large as a housecat.

SpeciesAvg. LengthAvg. Weight
Average Housecat18 inches9 to 12 pounds
Bobcat28 to 47 inches15 to 35 pounds
Cougar6 to 9 feet 135 to 200 pounds

Comparing their size to the housecats and knowing the damage our furry friends can do with their small claws, you can imagine the damage that being slashed by a bobcat’s one-inch claws will do.

How to Avoid Attracting Bobcats

Don’t give bobcats a chance at a free meal. By leaving food outside you encourage wildlife to try and take it. Taking food from yards is easier for a Bobcat than hunting. They get used to this and learn that where there are humans there is also an easy meal.

Bobcats are opportunists. Like most opportunistic animals they will seize any chance of an easy meal by taking it from humans and our pets.

It’s a good idea to avoid leaving pet food outside, but human food waste, even plant material such as fruit and seeds still attracts some unwanted attention.[5]

While they are carnivores, bobcats will not deny themselves the pleasures of a salad or some fruit. This especially applies to those living around urban habitats.

Bobcats pick the easy meal every time so don’t teach them that your yard is an all-you-can-eat buffet.

How to Avoid Attracting Bobcats

How Do Bobcats Hunt?

Bobcats are ambush hunters. They will try to surprise their prey and catch it from the first pounce. Even if this doesn’t work they still chase it a bit to get the kill. Bobcats do adapt their hunting style depending on their target.

Bobcats are versatile in their style of hunting, adjusting it depending on what and when they hunt.

For medium and small-sized animals, bobcats ambush them by laying in wait until the prey is in range (20 to 35 feet). When the time comes, they pounce on the unaware animal.

If they don’t succeed the first time, they will chase it a small distance. In the case of birds, bobcats leap into the air to catch them.

When they hunt larger prey, such as deer, bobcats get in close while the deer is laying down. They try to grab it by the neck like a lion would an antelope.


So, what do bobcats eat? Like any other carnivore, bobcats eat meat.

While they occasionally eat a berry or two and need milk when they are kittens, bobcats need animal protein to survive.

They are not only great hunters, but versatile ones. They can survive and thrive in many different regions throughout North America, from Canada to southern Mexico and all the way in between.


Do Bobcats Have Predators?

Yes, although not too many, there are several animals that occasionally kill bobcats, such as mountain lions, wolves, and even alligators. Bears can also easily kill them. They can also suffer attacks from coyotes and fishers, but this is more of mutual predation.

Do Bobcats Eat Owls?

Not healthy adult owls, they are risky birds to try and prey on. They can sneak up on unguarded nests and use their climbing abilities to get to baby owls and eggs. They also take advantage of an injured owl as ones that can’t fly are easy targets.

Do Bobcats Eat Cats?

Yes, they do. Bobcats are larger, stronger, and faster than even the biggest cat like a Maine Coon. They often catch stray cats and outside cats from backyards. Avoid leaving your pets outside, as even a small bobcat is a danger to them.

Do Bobcats Eat Plants?

Yes, like most felines bobcats also eat some plant materials every now and then. They will instinctually consume some grass and fruits such as berries. They also eat plants indirectly by consuming the stomach content of their prey.

About Codrin Frunzete

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