Are Bobcats Dangerous?

Written by Jennifer Gaeng
Updated: March 1, 2023
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bobcat ready to pounce from wood
The bobcat is the smallest type of lynx cat breed.

© Elder Design

The bobcat, also known as the red lynx, bay lynx, or wildcat, is a medium-sized bobtailed cat native to North America. From southern Canada to southern Mexico, they can be found. The bobcat is a close relative of the slightly larger Canada lynx and is often confused for one. There are a lot of people who think bobcats are domestic cats or stray kittens because of their small size. So, are bobcats dangerous, or just as cuddly and adorable as domestic cats?

Are Bobcats Dangerous?

Bobcat Teeth - Bobcat Opening Mouth
Bobcats are shy animals who avoid human interaction, therefore they are extremely unlikely to attack unless provoked,

©Rejean Bedard/

Bobcats are typically shy and lonely creatures by nature who rarely initiate contact with humans, therefore human attacks are unlikely. However, they are still dangerous if startled or placed in danger. Because they are not always immediately visible when they are present, accidental contact is conceivable.

How Big Is A Bobcat?

The largest bobcat recorded so far weighed in at 52 pounds.

©Fijetland, Conrad – Public Domain by US Fish & Wildlife Service, from Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository – License

These cats range in size from 8 to 33 pounds and are about the size of a medium-sized dog. Male bobcats are larger than females, measuring 25 to 42 inches in length, not including the tail. Northern bobcats are larger than those found in southern regions. The largest bobcat recorded thus far weighed in at 52 lbs!

Are Bobcats Afraid Of Humans?

bobcat standing on top of a rock
Bobcats are nocturnal, meaning they are most active from dusk to dawn.


Bobcats have an innate fear of humans and will not attack unless cornered, provoked, or habituated in some other way. Otherwise, they are shy creatures who avoid human interactions. A bobcat can become hostile on rare occasions, and rabies-infected bobcats can attack and infect humans.

Can A Bobcat Hurt A Human If It Did Attack?

Are bobcats dangerous - Bobcat
Although bobcats are unlikely to attack a human, if an attack did occur, they could cause serious injury.

©Victor Arita/

If a bobcat attacks, you could get catastrophic injuries, (pun intended). Seriously though, a fully developed Bobcat has claws that are 1 inch long and teeth that are 1 inch long. It is unlikely to kill a human and will usually only attack anything larger than itself if it is out of fear in self-defense. If you see a Bobcat close by or approaching, make loud noises, wave your arms, and flee. In the wild, do not approach a bobcat.

What Do Bobcats Eat?

Mice, rats, squirrels, chickens, young fawns, wild birds, feral cats, and rabbits are among the animals eaten by bobcats. Free-roaming cats or small dogs left outside unsupervised are extremely unlikely to be taken, although it is possible.

Should You Be Afraid If Bobcats Live Around Your Home?

Are bobcats dangerous - Bobcat
Bobcats are an important part of our ecosystem and maintain balance in rodent populations.

©Laurie E Wilson/

There is no reason to be alarmed or concerned if you spot a Bobcat near your home. Bobcats, as well as coyotes, and foxes are beneficial to humans in managing rodent populations and are necessary to healthy ecosystems.

What Should You Do If Bobcats Live Near Your Home?

Two young Bobcats (Lynx rufus) in Zoo Cottbus

©Redrobsche, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License

Most people feel that removing the animal will solve the problem, but this is not the case. When wild animals are removed, it doesn’t take long for other animals from the wild to move in, and the problem may worsen. Removing the Bobcat is rarely a good idea, and in most circumstances, other predators such as coyotes may move in.

In other words, Bobcats do more good than bad and there could be more dangerous dwellings nearby to take over.

Are Bobcats Territorial?

What Eats Snakes
Bobcats are some of nature’s most fearless predators, making them one of the few native creatures bold enough to kill and eat venomous snakes.


Bobcats are primarily solitary animals. Like most other cats, rarely share territory with other cats of the same gender. The territories of female bobcats are approximately 5-7 square miles in size. Male bobcat territories are often much larger than female territories, up to 25 square miles and they may overlap with several female bobcats’ home ranges. They mark their territories to keep other bobcats out.

Are Bobcats Fast?

Are Bobcats dangerous - Bobcats
Bobcats can run up to 30 mph.

©Petr Salinger/

A full-grown Bobcat can run up to 30 miles per hour. To compare, a Cheetah can run up to 70 mph. The fastest human speed recorded, Usain Bolt ran 23mph. With the average human running a top speed of about 8 miles per hour, Do Not try to outrun a bobcat.

Is A Bobcat A Good Pet?

Bobcat (Lynx rufus), taken at Sunol Park

©Calibas assumed (based on copyright claims)., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons – License

Bobcats can make for a good exotic pet, but only if their owners are willing to care for them as unique animals. Owners of exotic pets are not typical pet owners. Do not attempt to capture and keep a wild bobcat as a pet. Many Bobcat pets are rescues or have been raised in captivity since they were cubs.

To summarize, Bobcats are dangerous, yet domestic cats are more likely to attack you. Bobcats are nocturnal creatures who have a healthy respect for humans.

This graphic shows the differences in the size of a housecat, bobcat, large dog, and mountain lion in comparison to a human man.

The Featured Image

bobcat standing on top of a rock
Bobcats are most active at dawn and dusk.

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About the Author

A substantial part of my life has been spent as a writer and artist, with great respect to observing nature with an analytical and metaphysical eye. Upon close investigation, the natural world exposes truths far beyond the obvious. For me, the source of all that we are is embodied in our planet; and the process of writing and creating art around this topic is an attempt to communicate its wonders.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are Bobcats Usually Nocturnal?

Bobcats are nocturnal and elusive felines, therefore humans seldom see them. Although they are rarely observed, they are found across much of North America, even in some cases suburban areas.

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