What Do Bobcats Look Like? The Complete Guide

It’s certainly possible that you could mistake a bobcat for some other animal if you are unaware of its physical appearance. They are extremely tough to find out in the wilderness because they are considered to be nocturnal. This means that they usually only wander around at night and they can be extremely elusive when moving around. 

How to Identify a Bobcat

Bobcats are known for having slightly longer legs than a traditional cat and are usually coated with brown or red fur and dark spots and stripes all over their body. They weigh between 10-35 pounds and have a 5-inch long tail. Bobcats are around 20 inches to 50 inches in length and around 12 to 24 inches in height.

If you really want to identify a bobcat in the wilderness, then there are certain things that you are going to want to look for. They are commonly recognized by their tail, simply because bobcats have a tail that is around 5 inches in length and has a black-tipped color pattern. 

How Tall Are Bobcats? 

Bobcats are usually pretty diverse in terms of their overall size. Some bobcats could have a general size as little as 25 inches while some bobcats are capable of growing more than 40 inches. Most bobcats have a tail that is approximately 5 inches in length as well.

They don’t necessarily need to take advantage of their size to be elusive in the wilderness. Bobcats typically wander around and hunt during the nighttime and twilight hours. Their size allows them to roam around various types of regions, including forests, swamps, deserts, and mountainous regions. 

See our article for Are Bobcats Nocturnal?

How Much Do Bobcats Weigh?

Bobcats will usually weigh between 10 and 35 pounds, depending on their size and diet. They are usually much bigger than a traditional cat and can weigh more than twice as much in some cases. 

Bobcats vary in weight depending on their diet in the wilderness. They live for approximately 10 years in the wilderness and they can vary in weight throughout their life. 

The region where a bobcat lives can have a significant impact on its weight. For example, bobcats that live in a forest might have more access to prey and therefore may weigh more than a bobcat that lives in mountainous terrain or a desert. Bobcats usually eat small birds, rabbits, and squirrels. They can be extremely stealthy and elusive, despite their varying sizes and weights. 

See our article for What Do Bobcats Eat

Common Bobcat Color Patterns

It’s very common for bobcats to have different color patterns. For the most part, bobcats can be identified with a dark brown or reddish fur coat with dark spots and stripes. They often have white fur on their bellies and they can have tails with black-tipped color patterns.

In some cases, bobcats can have a grayish color pattern. However, most of the time, bobcats will have a brown or red coat. You might also notice that most bobcats have black tips on their ears and their ears have tufts that point up. Source.

There have been some reports of individuals seeing black bobcats. These reports are extremely rare but there have been some cases reported over the years that have suggested that there might be some bobcats that have entirely black fur coats, due to melanism. 

What do bobcats look like? How to identify a bobcat.

Bobcat Tail

The bobcat’s tail is one of the most recognizable parts of its body. Their tails are around 5 inches long. The tails are not as long as other cats because they hunt mostly in open fields. They did not have to evolve to a bigger tail. The smaller tail moves less and helps them stay elusive to their prey.

Other cats have longer tails because they need extra balance while navigating much narrower terrain. The bobcat’s habitats and territory have eliminated this need. They were named “bobcats” because of their small tail.

See our article for Bobcat Habitats and Territory

What Do Baby Bobcats Look Like

Bobcat kittens can appear to be the same size as most kittens. One key detail that you can use to identify bobcat kittens is that they are always born with dark spots and stripes. Baby bobcats are called kittens, and bobcat litters usually consist of 1-6 kittens, with 4 kittens being the most common.

Baby bobcats are usually born with blue eyes or light-colored eyes. Later their eyes turn a yellow color with round black pupils.

How Do Bobcats Compare To Other Similar Animals?

Many individuals can mix up bobcats with other animals. In this section, you will have the opportunity to compare the bobcat to two different animals that are commonly mistaken for bobcats. Cougars and coyotes can be mistaken for bobcats but there are usually a few clear indicators that separate them apart. 

Coyotes Vs Bobcats

Bobcats are about half the size of most coyotes. They generally live in the same types of environments but bobcats are much more elusive and stealthy than coyotes. If you are checking for animal tracks, it’s important to remember that bobcats don’t have claw marks on their foot tracks while coyotes do, this is due to the bobcat’s retractable claws. 

Cougars Vs Bobcats

Cougars are much larger than bobcats and can weigh more than five times as much. Some cougars can sprint up to 50 MPH, while bobcats have only ever been witnessed running up to 25 MPH. They can have similar color patterns but a cougar’s size will usually be a clear indicator that it is not a bobcat, simply because they are so much larger than most bobcats. 

Other Important Bobcat Traits

Bobcats can jump and leap much further than a traditional cat because of their long legs and larger overall size. They are extremely skilled at climbing and jumping, allowing them to roam around mountainous regions if needed. Bobcats have been seen jumping and leaping more than 10 feet at a time. 

If you happen to come across a bobcat sprinting at full speed, you might be surprised to witness that they are capable of exceeding 25 MPH. They can run much quicker than you might imagine, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will use their speed for hunting purposes. 

Bobcats are much more comfortable with hunting stealthily. They prefer to remain patient, elusive, and secretive when hunting. They commonly use their fur’s color pattern to blend in with the environment before sneaking up on their prey. Source.


There are several ways to identify a bobcat in the wilderness. If you come across a bobcat, look for reddish and brownish color patterns on their fur coat. They usually have black-tipped ears and a tail that spans out approximately five inches. 

They are commonly mixed up with other animals so it can be extremely important to understand some of the key differences between bobcats and other similar animals. 

Bobcats can be found all around North America and have a stable population at this moment in time. They can be identified primarily by their fur color patterns and their long legs.

Chad Fox
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