Are bobcats solitary animals?

Bobcat portrait by Dave Welling
Bobcat portrait by Dave Welling
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The answer to the question as to whether bobcats are solitary animals needs to be nuanced. Some websites bluntly say that bobcats are solitary. I don’t think that it is quite as black and white as that. My reference book states that: “the bobcat, like most other felids, essentially lives a solitary lifestyle”. They clearly state that it is not always entirely solitary. So, when are these non-solitary occasions?

  1. Well, there’s the obvious situation when there is a prolonged association between a female and her offspring. The female cannot, therefore, be described as solitary.
  2. One study noted that there was social interaction between pairs outside of the breeding season. There was speculation that under some circumstances pairs might form a loose, enduring bond.
  3. Further, other observations have been made of adult males jointly using a rest site during a period of bad weather. This suggested “some degree of social tolerance” according to Mel and Fiona Sunquist (wild Cats of the World, page 190).
  4. There is also a varying amount of home range overlap between adults of the same sex which implies that bobcats of the same-sex are going to meet sometimes where the overlap occurs and therefore there is some flexibility in their social arrangement vis-à-vis these cats.
  5. Individual bobcats may occasionally encounter conspecifics (other bobcats) within their home ranges. These associations are relatively brief, lasting a few hours and sometimes several days in the case of mating pairs.
  6. ET Seton in his work Lives of Game Animals (1929) stated that anecdotally “the tracks of eleven wild cats in one drove” was seen. He also says that “it is a common thing to see three, four or even six at one time”. Mel and Fiona Sunquist state that these sorts of bobcat gatherings “appear to be unusual, although they are reminiscent of the reported congregations of Eurasian lynx at ‘rendezvous’ sites during the mating period”. They referred to W Lindemann in his research dated 1955.
Bobcat photograph by PD Ryan on Flickr
Bobcat photograph by PD Ryan on Flickr

Those are the occasions, on my research, during which bobcats are not solitary. It would appear that the bobcat is not entirely solitary but, in general, behaves in line with almost all other wild cat species.

Below are some more articles on the bobcat.

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