rufus or Felis rufus
Bobcats are common throughout Arizona at all elevations,
especially in rimrock and chaparral areas, and in
the outskirts of urban areas where food is readily
available. Bobcats are generally seen alone, but
groups may consist of mating pairs, siblings, or
mothers with kittens. Bobcats are most active around
sunset and sunrise, and it is not uncommon to find
one napping under a shrub in a brushy backyard.
Individual bobcats will defend a territory of one
to 12 square miles.
Description and Habits
- Tan with dark spots on
- Short tail with black
tip on top side
- 15-35 pounds (males are
larger than females)
- 18-24 inches tall
- 24-48 inches long
- Mate February to March
- Average litter of two
to three kittens, usually born from April
to early June
- Kittens stay with the
mother seven to 12 months
- Live 10-15 years
- Able to jump as high as
- Carnivorous, generally
feed on small mammals and birds (includes
domestic birds and rabbits); will also eat
lizards, snakes, and small pets, including
with Humans and Pets
If you see a bobcat near your home, there is no
need to panic. Bobcats rarely attack people. However,
if a bobcat does attack a human, it generally will
have symptoms of rabies.
Bobcats may be attracted to a yard that has abundant
domestic birds, small pets, water, and shade or
other shelter. Small pets need to be protected
bobcats and other predators. Keep small pets indoors,
in an enclosed area with a roof, or on a leash
outside. Domestic birds should be kept in an enclosed
area with a sturdy roof (a 6-foot tall fence is
not necessarily good protection), and do not spread
seed that attracts other wildlife. Do not feed bobcats, as this can encourage
them to become too comfortable around humans.
What Attracts Them?
Bobcats may visit an area
to find food, water, shelter, or the space they
need to live.
- Food may include birds,
rodents, rabbits, small unattended pets,
poultry or other domestic birds, and other
- Water in pools, birdbaths,
fountains, and pets' water dishes can attract
bobcats. They will sometimes defecate in
shallow water (such as pools and fountains).
- Shelter for bobcats can
include rooftops, attics, and the space underneath
decks. Other small spaces can make attractive
dens also, and bobcats will sometimes rest
during the day or bask in the sun. This makes
them attracted to thick brush, shade, and
You may choose to watch and enjoy a bobcat or bobcat family sharing your yard. However, if you have small pets or livestock, you may want to discourage the bobcat from coming onto your property. Remember, your neighbor may think differently, and it is always a good idea to keep wildlife wild.
To discourage a
- Scare off with loud noises
or spray with a garden hose.
- If the animal is confined,
open a gate, have all people leave the area,
and allow it to leave on its own. If it is
still confined the following day, or trapped
inside a residence, contact a wildlife
control business or
the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
- Check for kittens in the
area, and if kittens are there, then consider
tolerating them for a few weeks until the
kittens are large enough to leave the area
with their mother.
In an emergency: In
the rare occasion that a bobcat bites a person or
appears hyperactive, there may be some health
concerns. Take the following actions:
- Contact your county animal
- Fight back if it has attacked.
- Avoid the area and stay
- Call your local Arizona
Game and Fish Department office (8-5,
Monday -Friday excluding holidays). Also,
call Arizona Game and Fish if severe property
damage has occurred, or if there is possession
of a live bobcat. After hours and weekends,
a radio dispatcher is available at (623) 236-7201.
Remember, removal is usually a last resort:
Bobcats tend to be abundant where food is plentiful,
and different bobcats will keep visiting the same
area if attractants aren't removed. Homeowners may
trap and relocate the animal, but should contact
the Arizona Game and Fish Department for an appropriate
release location before transporting the animal.
For a fee, wildlife
control businesses will remove animals from
To prevent further
Possible Health Concerns
- Keep domestic animals
(dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits, rodents,
etc.) in a secured enclosure with a sturdy
- Feed your pets inside,
or remove uneaten pet food between feedings.
- Close or patch openings
- Keep shrubbery, grass,
etc. trimmed to deny bobcats hiding cover.
- Deny access to bobcats
by putting up fencing. However, since bobcats
can jump up to 12 feet, a 6-foot fence may
not deter them if they are attracted to something
in the yard.
- Work with your neighbors
to achieve a consistent solution to the situation.
- Look for products
that can be used as helpful animal deterrents.
Rabies – Symptoms
of rabies can include foaming at the mouth, erratic,
hyperactive behavior, and/or
fearful, paralyzed and lethargic behavior. Bobcats
rarely get rabies. If you see any animal with
of rabies, stay away from it and call 911, your
Game and Fish Department office, or a wildlife
control business immediately.
by a bobcat must immediately seek medical
attention from a qualified health
care provider. Whenever possible, the animal
should be captured or killed and sent to
a laboratory for rabies testing.
Laws and Policies
- Bobcats are not considered a threat to human
safety except in rare cases when they have
rabies or are extremely aggressive. The Arizona
Game and Fish Department does not routinely
- Bobcats are classified as predatory and furbearing
animals. A valid hunting license is required,
except in the case of depredation (killing
of livestock) removal. See Arizona Game and
Fish Department Hunting Regulations [PDF,
- The possession of live bobcats is illegal.
- State law prohibits firing a gun within a
quarter-mile of an occupied residence or building
without the permission of the owner.
- Check your local city ordinances, but most
cities ban shooting firearms within city limits.
Some cities ban the use of slingshots, BB guns,
air guns, or bows.
- Refer to ARS-17-239 on wildlife depredation
and Arizona Game and Fish Department Hunting
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