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National Bobcat Rescue
& Research
 A subsidiary of the Wildlife Center at Crosstimbers Ranch
 A 501c non-profit Oganization

The Bobcats

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Surrendering a Bobcat to NBRR:

Click here to find out how.

Is it a bobcat?

Not sure if you have a bobcat in your back yard? Identifying a bobcat (especially a bobkitten!) can be very difficult. Check out our identifying a bobcat page to see if you have a bobcat on your hands.

Bobcat Frankie

So, you want to know what a bobcat looks like, identifying a bobcat can be very confusing. Not all bobcats have the steriotypical spots you may think of. Some are smaller than others, and the kittens can be particularly hard to identify. However, all of them have traits that are the same, no matter what their size or age.

Click an area on the photo for information specific to that area.

Bobcat's Ears Bobcat's Ears Bobcat's Ears Bobcat's Ears Bobcat's Eyes Bobcat's Eyes Bobcat's Coat Bobcat's Coat Bobcat's Legs Bobcat's Tail Bobcat's Ruff Bobcat's Ruff Bobcat's Kittens Bobcat's Ruff Bobcat's Ruff

To get a better understanding for how their looks can vary, you can browse through our cat profiles or our photo gallery which have plenty of other photographs of cats from young to old.

The Coat

bobcat coats vary by the individual. Some have well defined rosette spots on their bodies

Bobcat Lenny Showing off his spots.

some are freckled

Bobcat Quincy Showing off his freckles

some have no spots at all.

Bobcat Nila looking around

Bobcat coat pattern is like a finger print. They are born with their coat pattern. This does not change as they age. Their coat pattern is unique to them, and it can be used to identify individuals.

The Eyes

Bobcats often have a crisp, white lining around their eyes, but not all cats share this coloration. Bobcats have very round eyes, hazel/gold in color.

A pair of bobcat kitten eyes

A pair of adult bobcat eyes

The Legs

A Bobcat's Legs are proportionately longer then their front legs in comparison to the domesticated cat. These longer rear legs gives them more power for running, jumping, and quite possibly when using them as weapons.


Bobcats do not make the same sounds as the domesticated cat. Instead, they make a series of grunts, yowls, whines and growls and the patterns of these noises actually can make up a language of their own. The NBRR Director has actually pin pointed several sequences of sounds that have specific meanings which I will try to get for this page, however she is very busy caring for the animals and being so far away I cannot readily get that information. As soon as I get it, I'll post it. I can say from my experience with Shaka, a nasal whine that starts high pitch and goes low with a few grunts at the bottom is a greeting.

The Ears and Tail

Once they have reached about eight weeks of age, ALL bobcats have black ears with a distinctive white patch in the center.

A pair of bobcat ears from behind

Another pair of bobcat ears from behind

Some adults may have a small tuft on the tips of their ears, though this may not always be obvious.The bobcat is named for it's tail. All bobcats have a bobbed tail, though it may be as long as 12 inches in length.

This bobcat has a longer than average tail at 10 inches long.

Very long bobcat tail

The tail always has a noticable black tip on it, usually with a little white spot on the very end.

Average bobcat tail length

The Ruff

Adult bobcats have a distinctive "ruff" around the face. they can decide to wear their cheeks puffy, or slicked back depending on their mood.

Bobcat Hoover's ruff fluffed out

Bobcat ruff relaxed

Identifying Kittens

Kittens are the hardest to identify. The good news is that they will all look very similar. If you have a kitten, and you suspect it is a bobcat, you can view the pictures below to help you determine if the kitten you have looks like these little guys. Kittens under four weeks of age have bright blue eyes that change to green/hazel between four and five weeks. Bobkittens usually have:

  • black ears with a white patch in the center
  • bobbed tails with a black tip
  • distinctive stripes on their foreheads, but maybe not their bodies

Bobcat kitten

Four bobcat kittens

Bobcat kitten

On this colum, there are some tabby striped kittens for comparison. Note the lack of ruffs, The face shape, and The almond shape of their eyes, as opposed to the round, domed skull shape, and roundness of the bobcat kitten's eyes.

Feline kittens

Feline kittens

Feline kittens