Bobcat vs Mountain Lion | What are the Differences


There are multiple types of big cats, however, not all of them are the same size or have the same looks. We’re going to go over the differences between a bobcat (Lynx rufus) and a mountain lion (Puma concolor.)

A bobcat is much smaller than a mountain lion, they have spots and stripes and a bobbed tail. A bobcat weighs around 20-30 pounds, while a mountain lion weighs around 150 pounds. Both cats are carnivores and have an all-meat diet. Their territory overlaps in many parts of North America.

Both of these cats share a lot of the same traits. The bobcat is probably the closest relative to the mountain lion. They make similar noises and live in some of the same regions.

Watch 10 Incredible Bobcat Facts Video!

10 Incredible Bobcat Facts
10 Incredible Bobcat Facts

They have a similar diet, although bobcats tend to eat small prey, such as rodents and rabbits, while mountain lions will eat larger animals like deer, elk, and sheep. These cats are known to be dangerous, however, the mountain lion is most likely a bigger threat to a human than a bobcat.

Is a Bobcat the Same as a Mountain Lion?

Bobcats and mountain lions are two separate species and different genus, however, they share the same family. While it is thought that bobcats are probably the most “similar relative” to mountain lions, they are very different. Big cats sometimes get lumped together, when in reality they have a lot of genetic differences. Source.

The most notable difference between these two is their size. Mountain lions tower over bobcats. Many other creatures get mistaken for mountain lions because the mountain lion is very rarely ever seen. People have mistaken deers, dogs, and even bobcats for mountain lions when viewing them from a distance.

Mountain lions are also known as pumas, cougars, catamount, and panthers. There are over 40 names for mountain lions.

Scientific Classifications

Bobcat Specification 
Scientific NameLynx Rufus
Mountain Lion Specification 
Scientific NamePuma Concolor

Which is More Dangerous a Bobcat or a Mountain Lion

Both of these big cats are wild animals and should be considered dangerous. They are carnivores that eat mammals such as deer and rabbits, so house pets and even humans should keep their distance from these wild cats.

If a bobcat and mountain lion fight over territory, it is more likely that the mountain lion would win that fight. Both of these cats can be vicious, however, with the size of a mountain lion, the bobcat probably wouldn’t stand a chance.

If you think you have a bobcat or mountain lion in your area, make sure to steer clear of them, and if you do choose to view them, make sure you keep your distance and stay quiet. The last thing you want to do is spook a big cat that may see you as a meal or a threat.

See our article for Are Bobcats Dangerous

Bobcat vs Mountain Lion Sounds

Both of these cats make a variety of cat-like noises. They hiss, they growl, they screech. Long ago I lived in a cabin and thought I was hearing the sound of a baby crying, come to find out that it was a mountain lion, after seeing it on a nearby trail cam.

Mountain lions do not venture into human territory as often as a bobcat may. Bobcats have ventured further into urban areas because of their diverse habitats and ability to adapt. While mountain lions prefer to stay away from human activity.

See our article for What Does a Bobcat Sound Like

What is the Difference Between a Bobcat and a Mountain Lion

There are some pretty big differences between these two wild cats so let’s take a look at what sets them apart from each other.

Bobcats DifferencesMountain Lion Differences
Bobcats are much smaller than mountain lions.Mountain lions are three to four times the size of a bobcat.
The bobcat eats smaller mammals such as rodents, rabbits, voles, birds, and reptiles.The mountain lion has much bigger prey, eating different types of deer and goats.
The bobcat’s tail is very short, around 5 inches long or shorter, this is why they are called bobcats.A mountain lion’s tail can be as long as 2-3 feet. They use their tails for balance.
Bobcats’ fur usually has spots and stripes that make them easy to tell apart from mountain lions.Mountain lions are cinnamon and golden in color, however, baby mountain lions sometimes have spots.

Bobcat vs Mountain Lion Tracks

The footprint pattern of these wildcats is similar in shape but different in overall size. The mountain lion has the largest tracks of any feline in the United States. They have the same amount of digits (4 round digits) and the same shape of footpad also known as a carpal pad.

The bobcat’s footprints are around 2 inches long and the same wide, while a mountain lion’s footprint is around 3-5 five inches long and the same wide. Bobcat footprints sometimes get mistaken for foxes, however, the bobcat’s footprints do not have claw indentions because their claws are retractable. Source.


Can Bobcats Breed With Mountain Lions?

These two wild cats most likely cannot breed. They are a different genus and the size difference would also make it mostly impossible. On top of that, the two would be enemies because they would fight over territory, so there would be no special romance there!

However, still, people have claimed to see animals that resemble some type of mountain lion bobcat hybrid. Scientifically, the two animals would need a matching number of chromosome sets, which they both have.

Bobcat vs Mountain Lion Poop

One of the best ways to track an animal or to find out what types of animals live in your area is to analyze their scat or poop. The scat of an animal can tell you what they are eating, and help identify them.

Bobcat poop is segmented and tubular. It tends to be 2.5 to 5 inches long and a half-inch to inch thick. Mountain lions, on the other hand, have poops that are 6-15 inches long! And an inch or thicker. They may be solid or segmented.

Bobcat vs Mountain Lion Size

We mentioned the size difference between bobcats and mountain lions. So let’s look at their heights, lengths, and weights. Bobcats are around 20 inches to 50 inches in length and around 12 to 24 inches shoulder height.

Mountain lions are much larger. An Adult male mountain lion can be up to 8 feet long! This is from the nose to the tail. They are around 2-3 feet tall in shoulder length. Source.


Learn more about bobcats here

Related Questions

Do bobcats and mountain lions get along?

Bobcats and mountain lions are considered natural enemies because they share overlapping territories. Both of these wild cats are territorial and will fight over food sources.

What animal can beat a mountain lion?

Mountain lions do not have very many predators that are above them. Humans and bears are probably the biggest threat to mountain lions. Humans hunt them, and bears kill or eat them.

Chad Fox

Chad Fox is an outdoorsman who loves spending time in nature, working on ranches in Texas, and observing wildlife.

Our Newest Animals