Mountain Lion vs Bobcat: Who Would Win in a Fight?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: March 8, 2023
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The mountain lion, also known as a cougar, is a fierce member of the Felidae subfamily. These large cats live all over the Americas where they are apex predators in most of their environments. The wily bobcat, also called a lynx, is another Felidae member that hunts throughout North America.

Since these two tough cats live in the same part of the world, it’s only a matter of time before they have a showdown. So, who wins in a bobcat vs mountain lion fight? We’ve done the research and concluded who would win, so you do not have to.

Consider the physical powers, fighting abilities, and other factors that would make a difference in this fight. We’ve broken down the important data to show which of these cats can saunter about like they own the place without looking over its shoulder.

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Comparing a Mountain Lion vs Bobcat

Mountain lion vs bobcat
A mountain lion is larger, heavier, and more powerful than a bobcat.

Comparing a Mountain Lion and Bobcat

Mountain LionBobcat
SizeWeight: 60lbs – 130lbs  
Length: 5ft – 8ft
Height: 24 inches – 36 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 9lbs – 33lbs
Length: 2ft – 3.5ft
Height: 12 inches – 24 inches at the shoulder
Speed30 mph35 mph
Bite Power and Teeth1311 N (Estimated)
– Long, sharp canines for instantly killing prey
548 N (Estimated)  
– Sharp teeth that tear flesh
Senses– Amazing vision for hunting in low light
Top-notch hearing allows mountain lions to hear small noises their prey makes.
– Poor sense of smell
– Very good vision, especially at night.
– Excellent sense of hearing.
– Good sense of smell
Defenses– High speed
– Large size
– Good senses
– Amazing run speed
– Powerful, scary yowls
Offensive Capabilities–  Very powerful jaws
–  Long teeth – 2.5-inch claws
– Strong bite, especially considering the bobcat’s size
– Sharp, retractable claws
Predatory Behavior– Ambush predator that wraps its front legs around prey and takes them to the ground
– Very quiet, thoughtful hunters that examine potential prey before attacking  
– Ambush stalker
–  Soft feet allows for a bobcat to walk and run very quietly
– Uses a fatal bite to kill prey many times their size    

The Key Factors in a Fight Between Mountain Lion vs Bobcat

Mountain lion

A mountain lion weighs three times as much as a bobcat.

©Kwadrat/Shutterstock.com

Although the bobcat and mountain lion are best described as two large cats that share many behaviors, the truth is that they have some very important key differences from one another.

As with most fights, the battle between a bobcat and mountain lion will be decided by physical features as well as their ability to fight. We’ll show you several key factors that will impact our determination of which of these large cats would win in a battle.

Physical Features

Deadliest Cats - Bobcat

Bobcats are deadly hunters that use their speed and senses to hunt.

©Jack Bell Photography/Shutterstock.com

The size, speed, and ability to resist and deal with damage are all physical elements that can sway a fight between the mountain lion and the bobcat. These components can give one creature an edge over another even if the fight’s winner might seem obvious from the start.

Mountain Lion vs Bobcat: Size

The mountain lion is a large animal that can expertly stalk other animals, and it can weigh 130 lbs or more. Also, it stands 3 feet tall and measures 8 feet long. The mountain lion is a big cat, and it is much larger than the bobcat.

The bobcat only weighs a little over 30 lbs, stands 2 feet tall, and measures 3.5 feet in length. It is a large animal for certain, but it cannot compare to the mountain lion.

Mountain lion gets the size advantage.  

Mountain Lion vs Bobcat: Speed and Movement

Speed does not always scale with size. The mountain lion runs a respectable 30mph, but the bobcat can tear through the mountains and forests at 35mph, fast enough to get away from the vast majority of predators or hunt down others.

The bobcat gets the speed advantage.  

Mountain Lion vs Bobcat: Bite Power and Teeth

The mountain lion and bobcat both hunt and kill with their teeth. The mountain lion’s bite power is estimated to max out at 1311 N, a massive bite indicative of very powerful jaws. Although it’s much smaller, the bobcat’s bite power is supposed to be about 548 N, a strong bite coming from a small animal.

They both have large canines that bite deep into their prey and are designed to break bones and tear flesh.

For its sheer power, the mountain lion gets the bite power and teeth advantage.

Mountain Lion vs Bobcat: Senses

Both cats rely on their senses to hunt, but it is hard to objectively compare animals’ senses. That being said, the bobcat vs mountain lion both have keen vision and great hearing. The difference lies in their sense of smell, and the mountain lion simply doesn’t have a good sense of smell. The bobcat has an excellent sense of smell, though.

The bobcat gets the advantage in senses.

Mountain Lion vs Bobcat: Physical Defenses

The best physical defenses are the ones you don’t have to use, and that’s often the case with the mountain lion. This large, stealthy creature is hard to spot, and even then, most other animals will actively avoid them because of the danger they pose. Bobcats are not as large, but they have amazing speed and a terrifying scream and yowling that would scare off many potential enemies, including humans.

The mountain lion gets the advantage of having an effortless, potent defense.

Combat Skills

Mountain lions are highly adept hunters with a mix of power and stealth.

©Christina Moraes/Shutterstock.com

An animal’s combat skills are very important to examine separately from the physical features of the animal. That way, we can determine which one has better capabilities independent of their size. Take a look at how each of these creatures kills prey and fights off other animals.  

Mountain Lion vs Bobcat: Offensive Capabilities

The bobcat has a very powerful bite for its small size, and it has razor-sharp, retractable claws for climbing and fighting. The mountain lion is a one-trick pony, but it’s a solid trick. The mountain lion prefers to use its very powerful bite and sharp teeth to break bones, rarely using its long claws to kill prey.

The bobcat and mountain lion tie for offensive capabilities.

Mountain Lion vs Bobcat: Predatory Behaviors

The mountain lion and bobcat both use very similar methods to hunt their enemies. They will stalk the creature and then attack by using a single bite to disable the prey and then kill it with several more bites. The only difference is that the mountain lion pounces and uses its claws to dig into the prey, wrapping it up and bringing it to the ground. At the same time, it issues an often-fatal bite to the neck or back.

The mountain lion wins this fight for immobilizing its prey and preventing harm to itself.

What Are the Key Differences Between a Mountain Lion and a Bobcat?

A mountain lion is much larger, heavier, and taller than a bobcat even though they are from the same family.

The mountain lion is taller, longer, heavier, and more dangerous than a bobcat. Mountain lions weigh 130 lbs or more but bobcats weigh just 33 lbs. Mountain lions are taller at 3ft in height, and bobcats stand just 2ft tall. The bobcat is faster than the mountain lion by a factor of 5mph, but the mountain lion has a far more powerful bite.

Another difference is their looks. The mountain lion is similar in looks to a female lion, just much smaller. The bobcat looks similar to a domestic cat, but this is not a creature you would want to pet.

Who Would Win in a Fight Between Mountain Lion and Bobcat?

11 Incredible Mountain Lion Facts - Mountain Lion Cub

A mountain lion would win in a fight against a bobcat.

©Chris Desborough/Shutterstock.com

In a fight between a mountain lion and vs bobcat, the mountain lion would win. Bobcats are known for taking down predators larger than themselves, but the mountain lion is just too much larger and stronger. The fight would probably play out with one of the creatures stalking the other.

Even in the best-case scenario where the bobcat uses its better smell to find a mountain lion and pounces at it, its bite force is just not enough to take kill it instantly, the only way that a bobcat could kill a mountain lion.

Once the stealth portion of the fight ends, this becomes a battle of size, power, and speed. The bobcat might be able to move a little faster, but not fast enough to avoid the massive mountain lion forever. As soon as the mountain lion gets its claws, paws, or mouth on the bobcat, the fight is over.  

Could Another Animal Take Down a Mountain Lion?

Even though their skills and attack styles were essentially the same – the mighty mountain lion was just too much bigger and stronger than the feisty bobcat. How would a lion do against a fierce predator with more bulk and possessing a different set of skills? Could a mountain lion defeat a bear in a fight?

Bears are much larger than mountain lions – weighing 700 pounds to the lion’s 130. But is size the only factor? What about speed? Believe it or not – a bear is actually faster than a mountain lion – reaching speeds of up to 35 mph. Mountain lions can run 30 mph but their amazing agility could put them over the top.

Both animals use their incredible bite force and razor-sharp claws to take down prey with astonishing success. Their fighting styles, however, couldn’t be more different. Like all cats, mountain lions silently stalk their prey and exercise phenomenal patience to wait for just the right moment to pounce. They wrap their powerful front legs around the animal and dig in their sharp claws before they deliver one killing bite to the neck. Bears, on the other hand, charge and overpower their prey before mauling them to death.

In a knock-down, drag-out fight between a mountain lion and a bear – the bear would stand its ground and overwhelm the smaller lion within minutes. The mountain lion would surely land a few blows and bites – but the big bear would come out bloodied but on top. No contest.

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©


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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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