The bobcat is approximately twice the size of a domestic cat. It has dense, short fur that is yellowish- to reddish-brown with numerous black spots and black-tipped guard hairs. The venter is white with black spots, and the forelegs are tawny with horizontal black bars. The face has a black nose pad and white vibrissae. The back of the ears is black with a central white spot, and the ears are tufted at the tip. The dental formula is incisors 3/3, incisor 1/1, premolars 2/2, molar 1/1.
The only species that remembles a bobcat is the Canada lynx, individuals of which occasionally wander into Kansas from Colorado. From the Canada lynx, the bobcat differs in being more reddish (less grayish), having well-defined spots, having bands of black hairs on the front legs, having a shorter hind foot, having shorter pelage, and having shorter ear tufts.
The bobcat ranges over much of North America from southern Canada to central Mexico. The species occurs throughout Kansas.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences)
Anderson (6), Barber (2), Butler (1), Chase (1), Cherokee (1), Clark (1), Cloud (2), Comanche (1), Cowley (10), Crawford (2), Decatur (3), Douglas (10), Ellis (6), Franklin (14), Geary (1), Gove (1), Greenwood (5), Jackson (3), Jefferson (1), Jewell (1), Johnson (1), Kearney (2), Leavenworth (2), Logan (2), Lyon (1), Marshall (2), McPherson (1), Meade (2), Miami (3), Ness (1), Osage (2), Phillips (1), Riley (1), Rooks (1), Rush (1), Russell (6), Scott (1), Seward (1), Shawnee (2), Smith (5), Thomas (1), Trego (2), Wilson (2), Woodson (4)
Bobcats are polygamous, and females are seasonally polyestrous. Females that fail to become pregnant in early spring may come into heat again later in the spring or summer. Most copulations occur from January until July or August, but breeding may take place in any month. Females sometimes breed twice a year, and litters are born after an average gestation period of 63 days. Litter size in Kansas ranges from 1 to 6 (usually 2). The eyes are closed at birth, and they remain so until kittens are from 3 to 11 days old. Only the female is involved in care of young. Nursing lasts 2 months, and kittens are weaned at 3 months. The female begins taking the kittens with her when hunting at about 3 months. At 6 months, young bobcats begin hunting alone but remain near the natal den. Dispersal occurs before the mother bears her next litter.
Bobcats can be found in a variety of habitats in Kansas, ranging from eastern forests and riparian woodland to rangeland, breaksites, and canyons. Habitat year-round is influenced by prey abundance. The size of the area over which individual bobcats range varies greatly (from 2.4 to 100 square kilometers) depending on local topography, habitat, and food abundance. Smallest ranges occur in forested areas with abundant prey. Larger home ranges are found in arid prairie and desert habitats. Dens may be in rock crevices, hollow logs, and windfalls. Dried grasses, mosses, and leaves occasionally are used in the construction of nests. A bobcat may have more than one den, using a different site each night.
Diet varies seasonally and geographically based on availability of prey. Cottontail rabbits and jackrabbits make up about half of the items in the diet. Deer, mostly fawns and injured adults, also are eaten, especially in areas where deer are heavily hunted or where severe winters and deep snow makes them susceptible to predation. Rodents and birds make up the remainder of the diet.
Predators and Defense:
In areas where wolves and pumas occur, they prey on bobcats. The most common predators today in Kansas are coyotes and domestic dogs. Other common causes of mortality are trapping and hunting, injuries, starvation, and diseases.
Growth and Longevity:
Adult bobcats may attain the following dimensions: total length 770-1010 mm; length of tail 130-162 mm; length of hind foot 156-195 mm; length of ear 64-80 mm; weight 3.6-10 kg. Males average 10% longer and 25-80% heavier than females. Longevity in the wild may be as long as 15 years. In captivity, one animal lived 32 years.
The name Lynx rufus rufus presumably applies to all populations of the bobcat in Kansas.
The genus Lynx is thought to be of African origin. The immediate ancestor to Lynx rufus crossed into North America in the Pliocene, and the first record of Lynx rufus is from the mid- to late-Pliocene. The fossil record indicates that the bobcat has gradually gotten smaller since it first appeared.
1952. Cockrum, E. L. . Mammals of Kansas. Univ. Kansas Publ. Mus. Nat. Hist. 7:1-303. . . : pp. .
1958. Young, S. P. . The bobcat of North America, its history, life habits, economic status and control, with a list of currently recognized subspecies. Wildlife Mgmt. Inst., Washington, D. C. . . : pp. .
2008. Timm, R. M., G. R. Pisani, J. R. Choate, N. A. Slade, G. A. Kaufman, and D. W. Kaufman. Mammals of Kansas. http://www.ku.edu/~mammals, Pp. .