When the sun is setting and the shadows grow long, fascinating creatures we rarely see are just beginning their busy day. Among those working the night shift is the alluring and elusive bobcat. Living in every U.S. state, this striking beauty is the universal American wildcat next door. Their grey to rusty, silky spotted coat, tufted ears, sexy sideburns and irresistible bobbed tail make rare sightings a real treat. The bobcat’s mysterious appearance and ability to silently slink through the shadows, served as the basis for much Native American Folklore from coast to coast. These naturally nimble and deadly creatures are nothing like the pampered kitties of civilization today. If you stop to think that some spoiled cats are getting used to a self cleaning litter box that is fresh for them on each occasion. No, these are the real deal, the kind that can live in the harshest and most demanding of environments.

Springtime finds the usually solitary bobcat seeking a mate. Males and females spend just a few days together after which the female seeks a secluded den to rear the adorable, puffball kittens on her own. Don’t let her knee high size and big kitty charm fool you, a mother bobcat will ferociously defend her den site and kittens. She may have up to six kittens in late spring and may have a second litter in September in years of good weather and abundant prey. Never approach a bobcat. At double the height and weight of an average house cat, this cousin of the larger, silvery Lynx is a very wild animal and formidable opponent when cornered or threatened.

Rabbits,birds, mice, chipmunks and squirrels are this fierce predators primary prey, but large male bobcats will hunt deer and some livestock larger than themselves with surprising success. Preferring stealth to the chase, bobcats are experts at the surprise pounce and swift kill. While confrontations between individuals are rare, nightly patrols of their chosen, marked territory are constantly carried out to fend off rivals or claim breeding rights. Daytime is spent resting in the cave, log or other hide-a-ways that bobcats call home. Early morning and dusk present the best opportunity to spot this evasive, spunky feline. I for one will keep hiking and exploring, hoping for a chance to get a peek at America’s shadow stalker.

Facts from:

wikipedia.com, nationalgeographic.com and dfg.ca.gov