How Long Do Bobcats Live | Bobcat Lifespan

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Bobcats are found in the wilderness and their lifespan may be a little bit shorter than you might expect. Compared to a typical household cat, bobcats have a lifespan that is less than half as long as a domestic cat.  

How Long Do Bobcats Live?

Bobcats can have lifespans that exceed 7 to 8 years in the wilderness. In some cases, bobcats can live for up to 15 years in perfect conditions. In the wild bobcats have to survive nature, health conditions, age, accidents, and predation. Bobcats in captivity tend to live longer because of better living conditions and access to a veterinarian.

There are several bobcat subspecies spread across the North American continent and they all fall into this category when it comes to determining their average lifespan. Some bobcats have adapted to their regions better which may allow for them to remain in good health and survive longer. 

On the other side of the spectrum, some bobcats struggle to adapt to their environment and ultimately have a much shorter lifespan. We’re going to take a look at some of the most significant factors that play a part in determining how long a bobcat is capable of surviving in the wilderness.

How Long Does a Wild Bobcat Live?

In the wild bobcats have to face many dangers, health problems, and more. Because of this, they only live to be around 7 years old. A bobcat in the wild that gets past the age of 7 can live a little longer if they do not die from disease or health conditions.

At this point, they are slower but they have become wiser about survival. A Bobcat that survives this range can live to be 12-15 years old in the wild. However, this would be a small percentage, because nature tends to be very dangerous.

How Long Can a Bobcat Live in Captivity

A wild animal that lives in captivity has a much longer life span. If a bobcat is cared for well, and they have access to a healthy food source, clean water, and regular visits to an exotic pet veterinarian, then these animals can live to be as old as 25 years in captivity.

Bobcats that are raised in rescues tend to live long healthy lives. They have people tending to them, they have no threats from predators, and they usually live among other big cats. These bobcats are usually rescued from the wild, from either being injured or abandoned.

Different Stages of a Bobcat’s Life

Several factors determine a bobcat’s lifespan and one of those factors happens to be the various stages of a bobcat’s life. In this section, we’ll start from the beginning and discuss each stage and how that could contribute to a shorter or longer lifespan when compared to the average bobcat.

The First Year

Bobcat kittens typically stay with their mothers for up to an entire year before becoming fully independent. During this time, they will learn how to hunt, survive, and use their instincts when roaming around the wilderness. 

Depending on the type of environment that they are located in, they may develop certain adaptations that allow them to survive better in that specific environment. For example, a bobcat living in the forest will be more likely to develop traits that help them to hunt and remain stealthy.

In total there are thirteen subspecies of bobcats spread across the North American continent, each with different adaptations. Most of these subspecies still have the same average lifespan because it becomes more challenging for animals to survive in the wilderness as they become older.

Transition Period

There’s no official term for the period that immediately follows when a young bobcat becomes independent from their mother. This transition period is important because it’s the first genuine test for a bobcat to test their skills and attributes out in the wilderness by themselves. They will now be responsible for surviving, hunting, eating, and reproducing without any further guidance.

They will have to rely on their natural instincts and make important decisions on their own without any assistance from their mother. It can take a few weeks or months for bobcats to fully get used to being on their own, but they usually catch on pretty quickly. 

Female bobcats usually start reproducing immediately after becoming independent while male bobcats can take longer. It sometimes takes an entire additional year for male bobcats to start mating. 

This transition period can be impacted by environmental conditions depending on the region that a particular bobcat subspecies is located in. Temperatures, predators, weather conditions, and several other factors can all have an impact on this important transition period.

See our article for Types of Bobcats

Later Stages of Life 

After bobcats start to age and get older, they will eventually start to lose some of their survival abilities due to becoming older. They will become less agile and may lose some portion of their senses. This is important because, without their senses and ability to move around quickly, they become much more vulnerable in the wilderness. Predators can take advantage of these circumstances, but most bobcats find a way to survive even with the natural deterioration of their senses and mobility. 

Health issues are the primary cause for bobcats to lose their life and this generally happens between age 7 and 9 for bobcats. Notoedric mange is one of the major health issues that bobcats often face as they get older and it’s considered to be one of the primary health conditions that can result in a bobcat’s death. Source.

The Bobcat Population 

Bobcats are believed to have a stable population on the North American continent with around a million bobcats existing in North America in 2021. They are capable of reproducing much quicker than they are dying off which helps them keep their population numbers steadily rising. Source.

They aren’t really in danger of losing their population in the future. As bobcats reach mature age, they start their mating seasons, but in some cases, their habitats get destroyed over time from external factors like human construction and environmental conditions. 

In recent years, bobcats have been forced to delay mating season and travel to new regions that could prove to be more hazardous if they are unable to adapt. With that being said, bobcats are capable of delivering up to six kittens from a single mating season.

See our article for Bobcats Mating Season

Final Thoughts

Now that we’ve covered many of the factors that have an impact on the current average lifespan of a bobcat, you should be much more familiar with the different stages that take place during a bobcat’s life in the wilderness. They have a stable population but face continuous environmental hazards and health issues as they get older. With that being said, bobcats are not considered to be endangered and continue to do very well in the wilderness.

Chad Fox