Shy and beautiful, bobcats are a part of the American landscape. With populations stretching from coast to coast, they are in nearly every state of our union, and they are considered pests in most of those states. Learn more about bobcats and why they can be a nuisance animal.
Bobcats are mid-sized cats that range from northern Mexico to southern Canada, and throughout the continuous United States. They are roughly twice as large as domestic housecats, and they strongly resemble lynxes in their appearance. Their name comes from their short, or “bobbed,” tail. Bobcats eat opportunistically, feasting on whatever small to mid-sized mammals they can easily access. On rare occasions, they will take down animals as large as young hoofed livestock.
They are characteristically shy, and rarely are seen in groups. When they do live in groups, it is usually a mother and her kittens, or a group of males attempting to mate with a female.
A Rural Problem Become Urban
Traditionally, these cats are not much of a pest, but as human populations expand into bobcat territories, interaction can’t be avoided. Most frequently, bobcats are pests in rural farming areas which have large livestock populations, which are easy eats for these mid-sized cats. However, as they are spread throughout the country, they have found their way into suburban and even urban populations, where they are more than happy to hunt birds and small pets to survive.
Bobcats very rarely attack people, and when they do, it is usually because they either feel threatened or because they have an outside factor, such as rabies, affecting their behavior. Like any wild animal, these cats are dangerous when they feel threatened, and they will bite or claw at you to ensure their ability to escape. It is unwise to try to trap or corner a bobcat in any way.
Small pets and livestock are at risk of being hunted, especially if other food sources are not readily available. If you live somewhere near bobcat populations, you should be careful to keep your pets and livestock safe from threat.
Rabies, Parasites, and Other Diseases
As with most large mammals, bobcats can carry rabies. This disease can make them uncharacteristically dangerous and aggressive, but it is very uncommon for them to get rabies, especially with the efforts that have been taken in the United States to eradicate the disease.
They also can carry several external parasites, including fleas, mites and ticks, and the internal parasite Toxoplasma gondii, but to have issues with any of these parasites, you would have to come in close contact, which is unlikely to happen.
What to Do
If you have a bobcat problem, it is not something you want to handle on your own. They will do what they must to defend themselves, and that includes lashing out from any trap you could set. Instead of finding yourself in the hospital, a far better idea is to call a professional wildlife removal team to help take care of your problem. A professional wildlife extraction group will know the local laws that apply to bobcats and their relocation, and they will be able to properly use this knowledge to get rid of your problem within the confines of the law.