|Photo: Gerald and Buff Corsi © California Academy of Sciences.|
Bobcats are large cat-like animals of the Felidae (cat) family. They are in the group of “little cats” with cougar. They are found throughout the Pacific States and in nearly every habitat and biotic community. When encountered in the wild they may be seen sunning on a large rock. However, they are usually secretive, solitary and nocturnal. There is one species of bobcat found in the western states (CA, OR, WA). Bobcats are nocturnal, so they must be able to see well at night. Their large eyes are very sensitive to light. Most cats can see six times better than people can in the dark. They are especially good at seeing moving animals. Cats also need good hearing in order to catch prey in the dark. The hear animals long before seeing them. Cats don’t even have to move their heads to determine from which direction the sound is coming–they just move their ears! They catch their prey by sneaking up on it, moving slower and slower the closer it gets. When a cat gets very close to its prey it flattens itself against the ground and watches the prey for a while. Then it rushes forward swiping at the prey with it clawed paws. Even though it may be a good hunter, the cat often has to stalk numerous animals before catching one. The paws of cats have soft pads that enable them to walk quietly. They also have retractable claws that can be pulled back into the foot when not being used. The claws are used to grip the ground when running or climbing, and when attacking prey.
- Grey or reddish fur spotted with brown or black; under parts are light; short tail (4-5 inch) barred black; pelt is soft with very few coarse hairs.
- Adult males average 15-20 lbs; females average 10-17 lbs.; length about 30 inches.
- Prefers rocky, brushy areas; den may be a protected cavity or cave among rocks.
- Throughout CA, in nearly all communities; adult males may range up to five miles; females range less than two miles; average population on good habitat is 1.5 animals per square mile.
- Prefers ground squirrel, gophers, meadow mice, brush rabbits (desert), wood rats. In winter may kill sick, weakened or small deer.
- Mating occurs in late winter or early spring, February through March; gestation is 60 days; litter is usually three kittens, but can range from one to four; born in spring (April, May); both parents rear young.