The bobcat (Lynx rufus) was once considered the southern form of the Canada lynx. However, the fossils and DNA studies show that bobcats’ ancestors entered North America long before those of the Canada lynx. Despite their similar appearance, the bobcat and Canada lynx evolved separately. North America has had bobcats for nearly two million years, but Canadian lynx are relatively new arrivals. It has only been 200,000 years since they arrived in North America.
It is difficult to distinguish between bobcats and Canadian lynxes because of their similar appearances. Their ears are tufted, their heads are relatively small, and their legs are long. Nonetheless, bobcats have smaller feet, and their short tails are pale underneath and black on top. Unlike lynx, bobcats have a hard time regulating their body temperature in cold weather, and they are not well suited to hunting in deep snow. It is likely that the northern bobcat’s distribution is restricted by deep snow and cold temperatures.
As far as habitat and diet are concerned, bobcats are generalists. Climbing trees quickly is a strength of theirs, and they will climb a tree rapidly if they are pursued by dogs. While they can swim if necessary, they don’t tend to go into the water very often. The bobcat prefers densely covered areas or uneven, broken terrain, and it hunts rabbits, hares, opossums, rats, mice, and rats. Unlike what many people think, bobcats are serious predators of fawns, especially in the northeastern part of the country. Deer also make up a large part of their diet, especially in the northern part of the state.
It is believed that this cat can kill an adult deer ten times its size by itself, even though it eats mostly smaller animals. It is known that bobcats prey on chickens, turkeys, sheep, and goats, but they do not have a serious reputation as livestock predators. It has been reported that they have killed a large number of chickens or lambs in a henhouse or lambing pen on a few occasions. Hunting cat species usually stroll along trails slowly, listening intently to any sounds they hear. It doesn’t take much for a feather to catch their attention, or for the fur to be caught on a branch to catch their attention.
A dangling piece of silver foil or tuft of fur is used by fur trappers to entice bobcats to a trap site. The bobcat breeds prolifically. During a lifetime, they can give birth to from twenty-five to thirty kittens. Female ocelots with similar sizes would do well to produce seven kittens in the same amount of time. Young female bobcats aren’t bred very often when prey densities are low, but they can become pregnant at nine to twelve months of age if food is plentiful. In a rock pile, cave, or hollow log, the mother gives birth to two to three kittens after a sixty-three-day pregnancy.
Reports have indicated that females have used abandoned buildings and even beaver lodges for their dens. The mother starts bringing live and dead animals back to the den when the kittens are about two months old, but she continues to nurse them for another month. From the age of three months, kittens follow their mothers and rely on her hunting for them up until the age of seven months. North America’s bobcat population is hunted and trapped across the majority of its range. Bobcats became the world’s number-one spotted cat when the trade in tropical cat skins ceased in the early 1970s.
The international trade of bobcat skins was banned in 1977 after concerns about decreasing cat numbers led to their legal protection. Recently, several petitions have been submitted to remove the protective legislation following the rebound of populations in 2000. Only one spotted cat in the world can be legally trapped and hunted; however, the bobcat is listed in Appendix II of CITES. Today, many areas of the historic range of the bobcat are recolonizing.
Several factors, including a good conservation law and the cat’s prodigious breeding ability, have contributed to the cat’s success as one of the most successful small cats. Bobcat populations have rebounded in the midwestern United States due to legal protection after being almost wiped out by hunting and trapping for the fur trade in the 1970s. The bobcat is North America’s most common wild cat, easily recognized by its short tail; it looks very similar to the Canada lynx but has much smaller feet.
Cats cannot be vegetarians because:
There is no question that cats are obligate meat eaters. Cats are, in essence, a reflection of their diet. The body plan of a true hypercarnivore includes stabbing teeth, sharp claws, and a short, adapted intestine for processing meat. Animal sources provide cats with many of the vitamins and amino acids they need.
The body of a cat cannot produce taurine, and a plant-based diet cannot provide full levels of other nutrients. A cat’s diet should also contain a higher percentage of protein than that of most other mammals. Kittens need 18 percent protein in their diets.
Domestic cats require 12 percent protein. As a result, it is very difficult to maintain the health and happiness of a domestic cat on a vegetarian diet. Unlike humans, dogs can thrive on a vegetarian diet; they only require 4 percent protein to survive.