(Lynx rufus)
Also known as: wildcat; gatos montes (spanish)

Bobcats are medium sized cats. Tan to gray in color, some have dark spots, where others have a more uniform coat. Female adult bobcats in the Tucson area weigh 17-19 pounds, and males can weigh up to 25 pounds. Adults stand about 16-18 inches high at the shoulders. The “bob-tail” for which they are named is actually a fully functional tail measuring approximately 6-9 inches in length, but can appear longer in the summer when the cats have a shorter coat. You can see distinctive white “eye-spots” on the backs of the ears of both adults and kittens.

If you see a wild cat in your backyard or on a hike, it is likely a bobcat!

Bobcats are found from Canada to Mexico, and are common throughout Arizona. As urban areas expand, people living at the city's edge may find they have bobcats for neighbors.

Bobcats prefer the foothills environment of brushy, rocky areas that provide them with safe cover and habitat for prey.  Favorite prey animals include packrats, rabbits, other small rodents, dove and quail.  Bobcats use dry washes and drainages as travel-ways through the desert.  They are most active at dusk and dawn.

From late winter to late summer, mother bobcats will “den-up” to give birth to between 1-4 kittens.  A mother bobcat will move her kittens by the time they are 2-3 months old, but may occasionally re-visit the denning area (since it remains part of her home range). 

From a bobcat's perspective, block walls; dense, drip-watered ground cover; and a wash near-by for hunting packrats and rabbits provides everything they need: shelter, water, and food. City living comes easy for these remarkable animals.

It is important to enjoy your bobcats when they visit, but equally important to remember they are wild.
It is against Arizona law to feed native wildlife, or to keep native wildlife as pets.
Do not approach a bobcat, but watch from a safe distance.

Protect your pets:

  • supervise all small pets outside
  • let pets off-leash in enclosed, covered areas
  • keep chickens, rabbits, and other small pets indoors or in a secure, covered outdoor enclosure
  • feed pets indoors or remove uneaten pet food immediately to avoid attracting unwanted predators

If you would like to discourage bobcats from entering your yard,

  • remove bird feeders and bird baths that attract prey animals
  • trim vegetation around the house to eliminate hiding or resting places

You have a unique opportunity to observe a wild and fascinating creature, hunting packrats, lazing in the shade, or raising young.

Arizona Game and Fish Department: Living with Bobcats


The University of Arizona | College of Agriculture & Life Sciences | School of Natural Resources
Wild Cat Research and Conservation

Biological Sciences East 325 | Tucson, AZ 85721 |

Last updated: October 9, 2009. All contents copyright © 2008. Arizona Board of Regents. All rights reserved.
UA Electronic Privacy Statement

Logo & Artwork © 2008 Amanda Timmerman