Contributed by Kathy Milacek
Part of the lynx family, the bobcat typically weighs between fifteen and forty pounds, and is common across the entire United States. Although this cat is rarely seen in our cities because of its shy, solitary, and reclusive nature, the urban population has been increasing in the DFW Metroplex for many years. Local bobcats tend to breed in February, bearing litters of two or three kittens in April. The kittens’ eyes open at around ten days, and the mother bears sole responsibility for their care.
Although people often mistake the bobcat for either a domestic cat or a mountain lion, it actually looks quite distinct. Bobcats are two or three times larger a typical domestic cat, but smaller than a mountain lion. Another important difference is the mountain lion’s long (not bobbed) tail. The bobcat’s coat tends to be a light brownish-blonde, with dark spots on the flanks, legs and sides. Other distinguishing features include tufted, pointed ears with large, black spots on the backsides; a short, bobbed tail (4-6 inches in length); and rear legs which are disproportionately longer than front legs.
I'm Worried About My Children
Perhaps you have seen a bobcat in your neighborhood. Rest assured, bobcats do not attack people. In fact, bobcat attacks are virtually unknown; however, no one should ever attempt to touch or handle a wild bobcat or her kittens. Bobcats weigh between 15-40 pounds, which makes them small-to-medium sized carnivores. Coyotes weigh slightly more, but also stay under 40 pounds in the DFW Metroplex area. Carnivore biology studies show that carnivores in this weight range take prey that is “much smaller” then themselves.
In the U.S. there are approximately 3-5 million people attacked by domestic dogs every year, averaging 20 deaths per year. A child is much more likely to be hurt by a domestic dog then a bobcat – or a coyote. In fact, statistics prove that your family dog or your neighbor’s dog is a hundred times more likely to kill someone then a coyote or bobcat.
I'm Worried About My Pets
Here's how you can protect your pets from bobcats and other wild animals:
- Always walk your dog on a leash.
- Always keep pets vaccinated as some wildlife are susceptible to diseases transmissible to dogs and cats, i.e. feline panleukopenia (feline parvo), canine distemper, and rabies.
- Take steps to ensure you are not attracting predators to your yard – clean up brushy areas or woodpiles, and remove any food sources.
- Do not allow cats to roam free outdoors. Some cities have laws against free-roaming cats. Cats prey on many wildlife species, i.e. songbirds, face many dangers outside, and can attract predatory wildlife to your yard, as well.
- Avoid bushy areas or paths near abandoned properties.
- If you notice a coyote or bobcat in your area, never let it go by without scaring it. Yell or clap loudly to scare wildlife away; carry something with you to make noise, i.e. an air horn, or something to throw, like a rock or baseball. In the long run it’s much safer for us, our pets, and the wildlife as well – if they remain fearful of humans.
- Never encourage or allow your pet to interact or “play” with wildlife.
- Make sure your fence is in good repair.
- Do not leave pets unattended outdoors.
- Remove food sources, i.e. fallen fruit, food refuse, pet food.
- Small mammals such as opossums, raccoons, and skunks, are not a threat to domestic pets. In fact, it is usually the other way around, as such animals are often the victims of dog attacks.