Skip to Content

Bobcat Vs. House Cat: Here’s How To Tell The Difference

Bobcat Vs. House Cat: Here’s How To Tell The Difference

If you caught yourself searching for “bobcat vs. house cat,” it’s highly possible that your heart was captured by this majestic wild feline. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. They’re incredibly hard to resist, but you should definitely find a way to do so. Although they seem friend-shaped, that’s not really the case.

If you’re one of those people who believe that cats are cats, whether they’re wild or not – I’m sorry to be the one to burst your bubble. No matter how beautiful they seem, wild felines are made to be free, and we should respect that. For their sake and our safety, as well.

“But they’re like fluffy baby tigers, and I always wanted to pet one…”, I know, I know, but that should be the first sign that you absolutely shouldn’t. Although in some ways, they may look like an exotic version of a house cat, looks can definitely be deceiving.

If you want to avoid having to deal with a wild animal just because you mistook it for a domesticated one, it’s important to know the difference between bobcats and an average house cat. The first thing you’ll notice is their coat and size, but the differences between these two go even further.

Luckily, you’re here now, and you’ll no longer have to stare at the next spotty feline you see, wondering if she’s a wild one or not. Let’s see what are the main differences that set majestic bobcats and our friendly house cats apart.

Bobcat vs. house cat: physical differences

Bobcat Vs. House Cat: Here's How To Tell The Difference

When dealing with a wild feline, it’s always a good idea to look and try to identify her from a safe distance. Gather all the strength you have inside of you and avoid petting her. You can do this, I believe in you.

There can be a lot of differences, and it’s important to know the physical ones the most because it will be the first (and probably the only) thing you’ll look for. What sets our friendly felines apart from their wild cousins are their size, coats, tails, limbs, and faces.

Some house cats can share a lot of similarities with bobcats, which is why we’ll go into each of the differences in detail. By the end of reading this, you’ll become an expert in differentiating these two fluffs, and maybe realize just how different they really are.

1. A slight difference in size

When you think of a wild cat, your mind probably imagines a feline that is at least four times the size of your regular fur friend. However, that’s usually not the case with bobcats, which is why people often confuse them with our average felines.

Like most kitties, bobcats have a wide range of weight, with males weighing between 14 to 40lbs. Now, seeing one that’s 40 pounds, it wouldn’t be too hard to distinguish her from your average house cat.

However, considering that some cats such as Maine Coons can weigh up to 20lbs, it comes as no surprise that this isn’t really the best way to differentiate these two species. Especially when it comes to female bobcats, who usually weigh around 15 pounds. We’ve seen house cats heavier than that!

However, when we’re talking about a size difference, we’re mostly talking about height and length, which will be a lot easier to notice.

While typical house cats are about 9.5 inches, bobcats are usually 15 inches tall! On top of that, these wild felines are almost twice as long as the cuddle buddy you have at home.

So, next time you see a feline and you’re not sure whether it’s a bobcat or just a really special home fluff, focus on her length and height rather than her weight. And make sure not to compare it to larger house cat breeds such as Maine Coons – they’re special fluffs in every way possible that don’t stick to the norms.

2. House cats usually have smaller limbs

Bobcat Vs. House Cat: Here's How To Tell The Difference

Although this is a slight difference, it’s definitely still worth mentioning. Bobcats are proud owners of long, lean legs that help them hunt and run through the woods and mountains they own. Our home friends, on the other hand, have legs perfectly made for strolling around the house and napping every chance they get.

Another cool thing about our wild friends’ limbs is that their back legs are slightly longer than the front ones. This gives them an asymmetrical appearance, but also the power to jump, swim, and hunt in almost any environment they inhabit.

When it comes to our domesticated fur friends, their legs are usually the same length. Because of this, house cats’ bodies are almost always parallel to the ground.

3. Bobcats’ beautiful spotted coats

One of the bobcats’ best-known trademarks is their majestic spotted coats. In fact, most wild felines share a similar fur pattern, which helps them blend into their environment. When it comes to our wonderful house cats, however, this is pretty uncommon.

That shouldn’t be a surprise, knowing that they are considered domesticated for a reason. Their bodies aren’t really made for extreme environments or hunting sessions, although they have their wild side as well.

So, in a “bobcat vs. house cat” debate, the simplest way to tell who you are dealing with is by the fluff’s coat. Although some house feline breeds may seem like they have spots, such as Brown Tabby cats, they’re usually nothing like the ones on bobcats’ fur.

An average house cat won’t have spots on her coat, but some breeds could cause confusion, such as Bengals, Egyptians, Pixiebos, and more. All of these, however, were specifically bred to look like bobcats, and since they cost thousands of dollars, it’s highly unlikely you’ll see them running around your yard.

Another interesting thing about bobcats is the fur around their head, which makes them stand out from the rest of the feline world.

The fur pattern on the sides of their head makes them look like they have cute little manes. This ruff is mainly located around their cheeks, making it really hard not to give in and pet them.

4. Differences in their tails

Another major difference between bobcats and house cats is in the tails. After all, this unique part of their body is how our wild feline friends got their name!

The short and “bobbed” tail is what completes the bobcat’s trademark look. Next time you see one in the wild, look for this feature just to make sure you don’t “here kitty, kitty” her way to you.

Their tail is usually around 6 inches, which is half as long as the one of an average house cat. It should be pretty easy to notice. After all, it’s one of the main things that make these wonderful felines so unique.

Besides the difference in the length of their tails, you should pay attention to the color pattern, as well. Every bobcat has a very specific tail pattern – a black top with a fluffy white bottom. This isn’t something you often see in average house cats, is it?

Our snuggle buddies at home rarely have this color pattern, even the ones that are known for having short tails such as Pixie Bobs. Okay, some black and white cats might have similar tails, but I doubt you’d mistake a tuxedo kitty for a big strong bobcat…

Knowing this difference could come in handy, especially if you’ve found a beautiful kitten that looks a bit too much like a bobcat. No matter how young, they should always have this color pattern. So, if your special kitty has a black and white short tail, say your heartbreaking goodbye – her mommy is probably close.

5. Look for the ear tufts

Bobcat Vs. House Cat: Here's How To Tell The Difference

Moving on from the tail to the opposite side of our friend-shaped danger-kitty. Bobcats are known for their distinct ears, as well. On the top of them, there are pointy black tufts. However, although the hairs are always there, they’re much more subtle than you’d probably think.

In fact, some breeds that were bred to look like bobcats probably have larger tufts than their ancestors. Yes, we’re talking about Maine Coons which, again, don’t follow our “average cat” criteria.

Bobcats look a lot like their famous big cousins – the majestic lynxes. They come from the same family, so it’s no surprise that they look so much alike. Although the tufts on lynxes are much larger and more prominent, their smaller family members still have some.

Unfortunately, ear tufts won’t be enough for you to distinguish a bobcat from a house cat, especially from a long distance. However, if you somehow get close to one, knowing this could be really helpful.

6. House cats have fluffier faces

Our sweet feline companions are made to be cuddled and loved, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s why they make such purrfect pets, after all. How could anyone resist their fluffy heads that beg to be kissed?

In comparison to their wild cousins, house cats have much rounder and fluffier faces. Their bobcat counterparts, on the other hand, have serious faces that let you know you shouldn’t mess with them.

Although they do have ruffs (the facial fluff at the side of their face), their muzzles are much squarer than is the case with an average house cat. Their ruffs might be a bit harder to spot from the distance, but it will make their heads appear wider and much larger than in our fur friends.

Of course, there’s always an exception. This time, it’s the male house cats that haven’t been neutered. After they reach sexual maturity, their cheeks grow and they appear much chunkier than their female buddies. Sometimes, their puffy cheeks can look like bobcat’s ruffs, but mostly in long-haired kitties.

Do bobcats and house cats make different noises?

If you can’t really see the cat but hear it from a distance, it’s good to know how to differentiate the noises house cats make from the ones made by bobcats.

When they’re kittens, house cats and bobcats make pretty similar noises. However, as they grow, they become much more different. Yes, our friendly feline’s counterparts also trill, chirp, and hiss, but they sound wildly different after a certain age.

While our kitties at home purr, hiss, meow, and growl, a bobcat will make more of a crying and screaming noise. That’s why their calls are often mistaken for a child who’s crying or a scream of a woman. They’re definitely not enjoyable to hear and usually create a lot of panic among people who are not familiar with them.

Add this next thing to the list of things you wouldn’t want to hear during a camping night: the sound bobcats make during the mating period. This loud growling and echoing noise is sure to send shivers down your spine. Sometimes, it gets so intense that it sounds like roaring! They’re wild cats, after all.

Bobcat vs. house cat: tracks they leave

Imagine this. You’re walking around your camping area when you see cute cat tracks on the ground. However, there’s something off about them, but you can’t really tell what it is… Well, we’re here to tell you that it’s probably a huge size difference.

If you ever find yourself camping with your pet, it would probably be a good idea to avoid these friend-shaped wild cats. To do that, it would be really helpful to learn how to differentiate bobcat tracks from those of a house feline.

Everything else we’ve previously covered dealt with the scenario in which you actually see a bobcat in nature. However, if you’re with your pet, it’s probably best that you don’t get into that situation at all. Because of that, you should always keep an eye on the ground.

While bobcat’s tracks look pretty similar to those of a house cat, the biggest difference is their size. While your feline’s track is probably around 1 inch big, her wild counterpart will probably leave a 2 inches wide mark on her trail.

Will a bobcat attack a house cat?

Bobcat Vs. House Cat: Here's How To Tell The Difference

While a bobcat might look a lot like your feline bestie, there’s a high possibility that she’ll try to attack her. Although these wild felines consume a wide range of mammals, they’ll also prey on some of our domestic fur friends as well. These include dogs, rabbits, goats, and their feline companions – cats.

When it comes to humans, we’re safe. Bobcats don’t really like our company, so they’ll try their best to stay out of our way. But we should keep our kitties as far as possible from their wild counterparts.

A hungry bobcat won’t think much when it comes to her prey or spare our felines just because they come from the same family. Because of that, it’s important not to try and befriend your house feline with a bobcat. There’s a HIGH chance they won’t get along.

Can a bobcat become your friend?

I know, bobcats look majestic and exotic, and you just want to run your fingers through their beautiful muffs. They surely want some pets and cuddles, right? Definitely not. They’re wild animals who love running free without human contact, and we should respect that.

If you’re googling “bobcat vs. house cat” to see which breed is the best choice for you – we’re here to tell you that a bobcat shouldn’t even be an option. Sorry to break your heart.

Many believe you can find a baby bobcat that will grow up in a loving home and turn into a lovely fur friend. Unfortunately, that’s never the case. As they grow up, their wild side will definitely come through, and you’ll create more problems in your household than you could imagine.

So, no – bobcats can’t be domesticated. Luckily, you’re not the only person who fell in love with these wonderful felines. There are some breeds that were made to look exactly like them, only with a much softer side. It’s the best of both worlds.

Some friendly felines that look like bobcats

As we’ve learned, bobcats can’t be domesticated. But there are some alternatives. These breeds are so similar that they make it hard to see the bobcat vs. house cat difference. They’re very loving, cuddly, and overall nothing like the wild cats they share so many similarities with, which makes them the perfect alternative.

1. Pixie-bob cat

Probably the breed that looks the most similar to bobcats, the Pixie-bob feline could easily be mistaken for her wild counterpart. Although these furry friends look a lot like wild cats, they have absolutely no wild genes. And their character shows it!

These wonderful kitties are so gentle and friendly that they usually don’t even complain about water! Can you believe that? A house cat who doesn’t want to hurt you just because you gave her a bath? That’s a Pixie-bob for you.

These beautiful fluffs have an adorable short tail and unique, spotty fur. On top of that, they share similar “mutton chop” sideburns as bobcats. They’re great with kids, and other pets, and love spending time with their favorite humans. Isn’t that a perfect alternative to their wild twin?

2. American Bobtail cat

Some people believe that American Bobtail cats are the result of a cross between house felines and majestic bobcats. Okay, it’s highly unlikely that a bobcat has mated with a domestic feline. But that wouldn’t come as a surprise considering how these fur babies look.

With their big, rounded heads and large ears, these beautiful felines would be a great option for someone who fell in love with a wild bobcat. They even have an abbreviated tail, which was an inspiration behind their name. Doesn’t that sound familiar?

Although they have a wild look, their temperament is nothing of the sort. Their loving, devoted, and friendly personalities made these intelligent kitties one of the most loved breeds among cat parents. They’re curious and outgoing, and they’d be a great addition to your family.

3. Maine Coon

Bobcat Vs. House Cat: Here's How To Tell The Difference

The one we’ve mentioned a couple of times, and for a good reason. A lot of people mistake Maine Coons for bobcats because of their size, shape, and beautiful coats. They even have ruffs and pointed ears with tufts at the end!

Their appearance is what makes them so unique and similar to bobcats. First off, they’re HUGE. Maine Coons can grow up to 16 inches in height and weigh up to 20 pounds! On top of that, they have beautiful long, muscular legs that are usually seen in wild cats.

With long legs come big paws – and Maine Coons definitely have them. Similar to bobcats, the paws on the Coons are big, tufted, and round. The only difference is that they’ll probably let you touch them and feel how soft they really are.

Their appearance is probably the only thing that makes them similar to wild cats. Their personality is nothing like it. They’re loving, devoted, and extremely intelligent. If you’re ready to deal with their long coat, I see no cons to these majestic feline buddies.

Final thoughts

While bobcats and our friendly house felines may seem similar at first, they’re absolutely nothing alike. And they should definitely not be treated as average, domesticated cats.

These majestic felines are wild animals and they behave as such. While our feline besties make wonderful pets filled with love and devotion, their wilder counterparts are made to be in nature.

I hope we’ve helped you learn how to recognize one next time you see her, so you can admire this beautiful feline from afar. Just like she likes it.

Bobcat Vs. House Cat: Here's How To Tell The Difference