Puma/bobcat Hybrid Florida?

Here are two pictures of what some people have described as possible puma/bobcat hybrids. They aren’t, however, on analysis.

A visitor recently made a comment on the unknown Florida Wildcat page. A neighbour of his/her saw a cat that could have been a puma/bobcat hybrid:

In the Rocky Point subdivision in Stuart, FL. small domestic cats and dogs have gone missing at a high rate. My neighbor sighted a cat bigger than a bobcat yet slightly smaller than a panther with tufted ears. It can clear a standard 4 foot fence without touching…anybody out there think it could be a fl panther, bobcat cross? Ive seen both of those cats in our large preserve.

The first question is whether a puma/bobcat cross is possible and the answer is probably: yes. Although, Sarah Hartwell has not listed the puma/bobcat or puma/lynx hybrid on her site.

I then set about seeing if I could find a picture of one! I came up with this:

Bobcat cougar hybrid?

Bobcat cougar hybrid? No

This cat was photographed in Georgia, by the way, which is adjacent to, and north of, Florida. I found it on a site about hunting (horrible). One of the hunters thought it could be a puma/bobcat hybrid. The general opinion was that the cat is a large bobcat. However, this cat has little obvious resemblance to a bobcat except for the distinct bobcat tail. The face has puma markings of white fur around the mouth and in the middle the fur appears to have no tabby markings, usually spotted, which is typical of bobcats. The fur looks like the fur of a puma.

The general body conformation is quite lightweight and puma-like except the puma is more muscled especially the hind legs and rump. This cat cannot be a puma but there are some puma-like elements.

What about the ears? They are very slightly lynx tipped as per the classic lynx ears (the bobcat is part the lynx family). That tells me the cat in the picture might be a bobcat.

In addition, the ears in the picture have ocelli on the ear flap – white spots on a dark background. The puma has black fur on the black of its ears and no spots and the ears are  small and rounded. The bobcat has ocelli. This confirms the cat is a large bobcat.

Also, there is a small ruff and all-in-all I have come to the conclusion that this cat is a large bobcat with an appearance that is not that typical.

The cat below is not so cut and dried:

Puma bobcat hybrid?

Puma bobcat hybrid?

This is a very strange looking wild cat. The cat looks larger than a bobcat. There no tail it seems and the head is more like a cheetah’s and there is no classic bobcat ruff. This cat is not a cheetah because the chest is too small and there is no tail and its legs are too short.

Anyway this cat does not fit nicely into any wild cat species so it could be a hybrid. However, it too is probably a large bobcat. No more and no less.

For comparison here is a bobcat:

Bobcat

Pretty bobcat. Photo by Linda Tanner on Flickr. Taken Montana de Oro State Park


Comments

Puma/bobcat Hybrid Florida? — 16 Comments

    • Agreed. Mind you, the top one looks very slender with fur that appears to be unusually thin or close lying. The bottom one? Weird! I still believe it is a bobcat but as Harvey says it may be inbred causing changes to appearance. Or a hybrid. Possible.

    • I disagree, the top picture has the classic lines of a Florida Panther with linix tip ears (eliminating the inbreeding argument). And yes, Bobcats and Panthers have been known to mate, however rare that maybe

  1. The odd characteristics like a short tail and strange markings may be due to inbreeding which is a serious problem with pumas or “Florida panthers’ in that part of the world. A bobcat has a more stocky body and a characteristic “mane” on the cheeks. In the top photo it’s tail is turned away from the camera so you cannot get an accurate idea of it’s length. In the 2nd picture about 15 cm of the top of the tail is clearly visible but the rest is hidden behind it’s leg and body. The tail is nothing like a bobcat tail. Short maybe, but inbreeding can cause all kinds of changes. It’s general physique is typically puma.

    • Nice thought that: inbreeding. That had not crossed my mind but I am very much aware of it in respect of the Florida panther and the tiger and cheetah as two known examples. I am thinking of the Siberian tiger and now we know that the Bengal tiger in reserves that are too small are also inbred. Inbreeding causing sterility is the greatest threat to survival for the tiger and this threat kicks in when habitat loss due to human activity has played its part.

      • And you know, according to the NOAA’s site at Mauna Loa Observatory, when we reached over 400ppm in CO2 levels in our atmosphere on May 9th of this year, we will not be able to undo the damage in our lifetime, not even in our children’s children’s lifetime… meaning habitat losses to not only all of our beloved wildcat species, but for all spp. This is a serious concern to many of us, as well it should be, for we created it–the US of A being one of the very worst offenders.

        Here is the official website, if you’d like:

        [thanks, Michael :) ]

        • sorry, I often get ahead of my original thought–the lack of habitat is not only due to humans’ monopoly on territorial space, but also to our appalling species’ use of oil/gas resources, mainly.

  2. No, you are most likely correct. That is no bobcat, nor is it anything in the wild that I’ve ever seen, nor heard growl under a new moon. What are we looking at here? btw, I have tried without luck nor intelligence to educate any hunter, whether wild or domestic.

    • If only hunters could become prey – I’d get a real kick out of that. I’m sure they will come back as the animals they often kill. What goes around comes around – that is the only thing which is sure.

  3. You have to keep in mind that a male bobcat’s ruff is pronounced, like the one in the top photo. A female bobcat doesn’t always show a ruff from the side, as often it is very slight. And the second photo does not give a clear indicative of tail length. Look for tufts on ears [oceli noted]…look at hindquarters again, notice lack of [photo is poor res, but not that bad considering] lack of strong “mascara/magic” marks btwn eyes and mouthplane. Physique: puma? regardless of hybrid/sp. is well fed. why?

  4. This looks exactly like a cat I saw while working in a Storm-water Treatment Area in South Florida. It appeared in an area where I had recently seen Bobcats. When I first saw it I though it was a small panther, but when it turned sideways I saw the tail and dismissed it as just a really big bobcat.

  5. I have personally seen a “bob lion” as I call it in Arizona, and it was by far the scariest thing I’ve ever seen. I have been hunting for a couple of years and was with two hunters, one who has been hunting in the area for thirty years. We all saw the same thing……. A bit smaller than a puma it had small black/ dark brown spots but just on the legs near the ankles. It also had normal puma ears but with a black twist kind of, like a bobcat. Another thing was the tail, it was a stub unlike a cougar. It freaked me, since we were elk hunting and calling when out of the corner of my eye, I saw it almost crawling through the tan grass straight at me, eventually turning to the herd of elk. We all had time to look through our binoculars an saw it clear as day. It was not a puma or a bobcat.. Could it be both? One of the hunters was a biologist for twenty years, and he said that it was possible for a mix, but only if absolutely necessary (not enough mates). So we asked game and fish, and they said that both populations have spiked downwards. I am a firm believer in the bob lion.

    • Thanks Garrett for commenting. Very interesting. Probably the world’s most authorative writer about hybrid wild cats is Sarah Hartwell and she says (at around ten years ago) that there are no authenticated hybrids of this type. What she says is that as the bobcat markings are very variable and can be like the puma (vey small spots which are like speckles) at a distance they can be mistaken for a hybrid.

      Also sometimes bobcats don’t develop a ruff and this also makes them look more like the puma/bobcat hybrid at a distance. I am not saying it was not a puma/bobcat hybrid but it seems more likely to have been a bobcat with non-standard appearance.

      This is a link to her website.

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