So named for its stubby, bobbed tail, the bobcat is the most abundant wild cat in the United States. A small wild cat, they are twice the size of a domestic house cat, usually about 35-40 inches long.
Stealthy and solitary, Lynx rufus hunt primarily in the twilight hours, but can be seen at all hours of the day and night. An adaptable species, they have the greatest range of all native North American cats. Their diet consists of rabbits, birds, mice, squirrel, even insects; but they also hunt mammals bigger than themselves, like deer. Their powerful deathblow is an impressive pounce from 10 feet away.
In my earlier days of hiking, I had a fear of bobcats. Then one day in a park visitor center I saw a stuffed bobcat and was surprised at its small size. I realized it would not tear my heart out and in fact, it was not that different in size than some of my friends’ well-fed pets. From that moment on I decided I would like to see this wild cat, I was no longer afraid of it. Before the end of that day, I saw a wild bobcat on the trail. Since then, bobcat always reminds me to understand my fears.
Photo credit: Athena Alexander