Bobcat size compared to domestic cat

People search for “Bobcat size compared to cat” but what they mean is a size comparison between the bobcat and the domestic cat. I’ve prepared an image which I think is pretty accurate in showing the difference in size of the domestic cat and bobcat. On my calculation the domestic cat is about .54 or 54% of the size of a bobcat. Let’s call it about half the size. I think the image reflects this although it is quite difficult to visualise it accurately.

Bobcat compared to the domestic cat

Bobcat compared to the domestic cat. The montage is by MikeB. The bobcat image is in the public domain. The Manx cat image is by Warren Photographic and published here with his permission.

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They say the average bobcat is about 33 inches in length from the nose to the beginning of the tail while the domestic cat is about 18 inches on average over that distance. Of course, it varies quite considerably particularly with respect to the domestic cat because the wild cat hybrids can be about 17.5 inches to the shoulder at a maximum. These cats would be around two thirds or more the size of a bobcat. The bobcat, incidentally, is about the same height to the shoulder as a female Labrador retriever but with longer legs. The bobcat has long legs relative to its body size and a small head and of course the short tail. The tail is about 14 cm long, white underneath and marked with dark bands above.

The bobcat is described as a medium-sized wild cat species while the domestic cat interestingly is listed in a book on the wild cat species and described as a small cat. The reason why the domestic cat is in a book on the wild cat species is because it is so similar in terms of its lineage and DNA to the wildcat that it is technically part of the wild cat family. It is after all very close to a wildcat in terms of temperament and all domestic cats are born with a wild mentality until socialised.

The domestic cat has a very similar character and hunting technique to the bobcat and indeed to any other wild cat species. Anatomically they are incredibly similar.

Useful links
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I have chosen for the photographic montage a picture of a Manx cat which as you know is without a tail or a very short tail in order to make it look similar to the bobcat so that we can focus on the size difference.

I have just written on the subject of why the tabby coat is so common in the domestic cat. It’s because it is the original wildcat coat as it is great camouflage. That’s how evolution works. The wild ancestor of the domestic cat is a North African wildcat with a weaker tabby coat. The Bobcat has a tabby coat of sorts. It’s everywhere in the wild cat species. In fact, in the photograph you can see a great similarity of coat between the domestic cat and the bobcat. They are both tabby.

In 2016, I wrote about why the bobcat has a short tail. It is rather mystifying because it serves no useful purpose. The reason why the Manx as a short tail or no tail is because of a genetic mutation which was unhelpful to the survival of this cat. It survived because the Manx at the time of the mutation lived on the Isle of Man. This created an island environment where the mutated gene was able to survive the evolutionary process.

It surprises me that the bobcat has kept its short tail throughout the evolution of this species of wild cat. The tail is designed to help with balance which is why you see longer and thicker tails on those wild cat species who arboreal i.e. living in trees a lot. And the snow leopard has a fantastic tail because it has to navigate dangerously steep rock faces while hunting blue sheep. The bobcat is a good climber and escapes to trees if pursued by dogs. Another reason why the short tail is mystifying from an evolutionary standpoint.

P.S. Below is another comparison prepared by Michigan state officials. It supports my assessment:

Bobcat size versus domestic cat size as per

Bobcat size versus domestic cat size as per

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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