Bobcat vs. House Cat: The Ultimate Comparison

Bobcats and house cats look somewhat similar. House cat breeds like the Egyptian Mau, Savannah, Serengeti, and Pixie Bob even look a lot like bobcats. Although the bobcat vs. housecat debate is not likely to end any time soon, it’s best to know that the two are different cat species with a myriad of genetic differences.

Bobcats and housecats are fierce hunters that vocalize with meows, hissing, chirping, etc. However, they differ in their origin, physical traits, size, and demeanor.  While a Bobcat is a wild animal that belongs in nature, a house cat is a domestic animal capable of making an endearing furry companion.

Read on as we do an in-depth comparison of the bobcat and housecat. We will analyze their similarities and differences and discuss whether an encounter between the two can spark a romantic affair.

Let’s begin!

Bobcat vs. House Cat: 3 Similarities

Bobcats and housecats are two cat species that are not directly related. Although they are both members of the Felidae family and Felinae subfamily, that’s about as far as their similarities go. While bobcats fall under the genus Lynx and Lynx rufus species, house cats are classified as genus Felis and Felis catus or Felis silvestris catus (feral domestic cats).

Let’s look at the three main shared traits of the bobcat and house cat.

Physical Traits

Bobcat vs. House cat

If you have never encountered a bobcat up close, it’s easy to mistake it for some house cat breeds. 

For instance, a Pixie bob resembles a bobcat. Some even claim the domestic cat breed is the progeny of naturally occurring bobcat hybrids. However, no scientific proof supports these claims, and the Pixie Bob has zero bobcat marker genes.

Find Out: 10 Cat Breeds With Long Legs: Their Personalities and Care Guide


The primary relation between bobcats and house cats is that they are both from the Felidae family and Felinae subfamily. The Felinae subfamily classifies cat species that purr. These cats are smaller than big cats, like lions and tigers, which are known to roar.

Bobcats and house cats make numerous similar noises. For instance, both cats can meow, chirp, and hiss or growl when threatened. Their kittens sound identical, but bobcats adopt deeper vocalization as they age and increase in size.

Adult bobcats and house cats sound wildly different. Unlike house cats that produce a sweet meow to get their owner’s attention, bobcats make quite an alarming noise. They sound like a screaming woman or a crying baby. 

Furthermore, bobcats tend to be louder when mating. Like male house cats, male bobcats don’t participate in raising their kittens.

Also Read: What Happens to Bonded Cats When One Dies? 6 Ways to Help Your Cat

Hunting Behavior

Bobcats and house cats are both fierce predators that hunt in an almost similar fashion. The two are solitary hunters and carnivores that compete for many of the same small prey in the wild. 

When hunting, both the bobcat and house cat will do the famous eye stare, stalk, chase, and then pounce on their prey. They then give the kill bite and may “play with their food” before devouring it.

Additionally, bobcats and house cats have excellent vision at night and in low-light settings. They can get into night crazies and remain busy to hunt unsuspecting prey at nightfall.

5 Differences Between Bobcat and House Cat

House Cat

Bobcats and house cats have numerous similarities at first glance. However, these felines have considerable glaring differences when compared closely.

For starters, bobcats are native to North America. They are believed to be descendants of the Eurasian lynx and have been around for over 20,000 years

On the other hand, house cats originated from the Middle East and have had a unique relationship with humans since 10,000 to 12,000 years ago.

Let’s do a deeper bobcat vs. house cat comparison to learn the main differences between the two.

1. Bobcat vs. House Cat Size

One of the easiest ways to tell a bobcat from a house cat is to check the size difference. Bobcats are generally larger by a few good inches. Both males and females look like miniature large cats and can be 2 to 3 times larger than the average house cat.

An average house cat is 9 to 10 inches (22.86 to 25.4 cm) tall. The limbs of bobcats are nearly 30% longer than the legs of house cats, and these felines are 16 to 18 inches (40.64 to 45.72 cm) tall. 

While bobcats measure 32 to 37 inches (81.28 to 93.98 cm) in head-to-body length, house cats have an average body length of approximately 18 inches (45.72 cm).

Weight-wise, bobcats weigh 15 to 35 pounds (6.8 to 15.88 kg), while the average house cat weighs about 10 pounds (4.54 cm). Although weight depends on breed and cats like the Siamese weighs 5 pounds (2.27 kg) while the Maine Coon weighs as much as 25 pounds (11.34 kg), most domestic cats have a smaller frame than bobcats.

MeasurementBobcatHouse Cat
Height16 to 18 inches9 to 10 inches
LengthUp to 37 inches18 inches on average
Weight15 to 25 pounds10 pounds on average
Tail Length4 to 8 inches12 inches on average
Bobcat vs. House Cat: Direct Comparison

2. Coat Appearance

We are all familiar with the looks of domestic cats. There are over 73 domestic cat breeds, according to the International Progressive Cat Breeders Association, and they come in various coat colors and patterns. Bobcats, on the other hand, almost always have spotted fur.

Moreover, bobcats have squarer muzzles while house cats have rounder, fluffier faces. You can tell if a feline is a bobcat if you notice it has yellowish eyes, darker pupils, and what looks like a tiny mane concentrated on the cheeks downward.

Besides the cheek ruffs, bobcats have tufts of black hair at the tip of their pointed ears. While their back and sides have the same color and patterns, the undersides have white or lighter-colored fur.

3. Tail

Another surefire way to distinguish a bobcat from a housecat is to check the tail. While housecats can have long or short tails depending on breed, bobcats always have shorter, stubby tails.

Generally, housecats have long tails that measure 12 inches (30.48 cm) on average. Bobcats have shorter 4 to 8-inch (10.16 to 20.32-cm) long tails that look like a portion of the tip is chopped or “bobbed” off.

Another distinct feature of a bobcat’s tail is that it will have one or several dark bands. Like the ears, the tip of the tail also has black fur and may have lighter-hued hairs on its base.

4. Tracks

Bobcats have a misbalanced and somewhat asymmetrical appearance because their rear legs are slightly shorter than their front limbs. This gives them a unique gait that contributes to their name because of their unique walking style.

When walking, bobcats seem like they are jogging or bobbing up and down. Housecats have limbs of similar length and level, which makes their bodies more parallel to the ground.

A bobcat’s longer front legs offer more power when jumping, swimming, and hunting. Bobcats also have an easier time maneuvering through different terrain, including areas with deep snow or tall vegetation.

Both bobcats and house cats have a direct register gait, and despite the different walking styles, their tracks look almost similar. You cannot distinguish a house cat’s tracks from a kitten bobcat’s tracks in terms of size. The size difference is apparent when comparing the tracks of adults.

On average, a house cat’s track size is about 1 inch (2.54 cm) wide, while an adult bobcat’s tracks are 2 to 2.5 inches (5.08 to 6.35 cm) wide. Bobcats also have a longer gait, which means their tracks will be further apart than a house cat’s tracks.

5. Demeanor

Bobcats are a sight to behold when roaming in the wild. Some even claim they look as cute and cuddly as their domestic counterparts. However, they are wild animals capable of causing injury and immense damage if provoked. Also, they are extremely powerful and can threaten your safety if they lash out.

Most house cats have an independent streak. However, they are social creatures that thrive in the companionship of humans. Bobcats, on the other hand, dislike social encounters with humans. They are more likely to flee or turn defensive if you try to handle them.

Furthermore, house cats can tolerate the company of other felines of the same or a different breed. They can also warm up to the resident canine and become close buddies. Bobcats are highly independent and don’t even tolerate the company of other cats of their species.

Do Bobcats Meow Like House Cats?

Bobcats, especially kittens, meow like house cats. They also make many other similar sounds, including hissing, chirping, growling, and trilling. However, these vocalizations sound wildly different as the cat ages, and bobcats typically meow with a deeper, more intimidating sound.

Bobcats, like their domestic counterparts, can meow. However, they meow for entirely different reasons. While your pampered kitty will produce a sweet meow several times daily to get your attention, bobcats rarely meow. 

The most preferred vocalization for bobcats is chirping or trilling. Meows are rare and mostly happen when a bobcat mommy tries to find or assemble her kittens. The kittens also meow to get the attention of their mother.

Generally, kitten bobcats and house cats produce an almost similar meow. Adult bobcats have a deeper and higher-pitched meow. The difference is so clear that it’s hard to mistake the meows of the two.

Can You Domesticate Bobcats?

You cannot domesticate a bobcat. It’s a wild animal with a unique diet, demeanor, and lifestyle preference. Although some states allow people to own bobcats with a license, attempting to possess the feline species as a pet can lead to a stressful and potentially dangerous living environment.

Bobcats are wild cats unsuited as house pets. Unlike domestic cats, which tend to gravitate toward human companionship, a bobcat is likelier to avoid human encounters or turn defensive.

Still, the following states allow bobcat ownership, provided you get a proper permit:

  • Oklahoma
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Maine
  • Indiana
  • Delaware
  • South Dakota
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania
  • Florida
  • Arizona
  • Texas
  • Rhode Island 

Bobcats remain illegal in states like New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Utah because they cannot be tamed or domesticated.

So, what should you do if you spot a bobcat near your yard? The best course of action is to let it be or call the authorities. 

Although no official records show bobcats fatally attacking a human, these cats can turn aggressive if you try to interact with them. They are shy and will often flee at the sight of a human, but they can stand their ground when protecting kittens or a meal. Some bobcats can infect you with rabies, making it better to retreat and avoid confrontation.

Can House Cats and Bobcats Mate?

Although rare, bobcats and house cats can mate. Still, an encounter between the two is more likely to result in a fight than a mutual grooming session. In the rare occasions that bobcats and house cats do mate, their genetic differences will not allow them to produce offspring.

Bobcats and house cats don’t get along. The chances of the two mating are rare, although not unheard of. Even if these two species that almost look alike bed each other, they cannot produce viable offspring.

Genetically speaking, bobcats and house cats are so dissimilar that they cannot produce hybrid bobcats. Although some house cats look like their wild counterparts, no evidence shows they have bobcat marker genes.

The following are domestic cats believed to have bobcat ancestry, although DNA tests show they are wholly domestic.

  • Bengal cat: Mixed breed between the Asian leopard and domestic cats.
  • Kellas cat: Hybrid between the Scottish wildcat and a domestic cat.
  • Savannah: Hybrid between the Serval and a domestic cat.
  • Pixie bob: Mixed breed between the North American bobcat and domestic cats.

Final Thoughts

The bobcat vs. house cat debate doesn’t aim at helping you decide which one is the better pet. Bobcats are wild animals you cannot wholly domesticate, while house cats can live with humans harmoniously, provided they receive proper care.

So, what if you badly want an unusual feline friend?

If “normal pets” are not your thing and you want a cat that can draw attention or even social media clout, it’s safer to settle for exotic-looking house cats like the Savanna or Serengeti. They are a sight to behold like their wild counterparts, but are warm and fuzzy inside!

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