Do bobcats mark their territory? Yes, somewhat like domestic cats.

Yes, according to several sources.

Bobcat den in a rock crevice
Bobcat den in a rock crevice. Photo in public domain.
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Bobcats have home ranges which are well-defined. They are not used by other cats of the same sex. Sometimes they overlap but the common areas are not used simultaneously. It is thought that bobcats don’t defend their home range but indicate their occupancy and avoid encounters with other bobcats through a combination of visual marks i.e. scratches and olfactory marks i.e. spraying the area with scent deposited as urine, anal gland secretions and faeces.

Their behaviour is similar to that of domestic cats. Urine is squirted or sprayed backwards on vertical objects. Sometimes bobcats squat to urinate. Both male and females use this technique. These might be single scent marks or they might be used in combination on objects such as trees and bushes.

In making visual marks they scrape bare soil with a backwards raking motion of their hind feet. The areas might also be marked with urine or faeces. And as for domestic cats, they might sharpen their claws on a log or tree and in doing so deposit scent from their paws onto the said tree with the resultant combination of olfactory and visual marking.

Most marks are placed along paths, trails and roads on which bobcats regularly travel within their range. The markings might be seasonal and there may be differences between females and males marking behaviour. The markings might not be uniform.

Bobcat and kittens
Bobcat and kittens. Picture in public domain.

They use these marks to delineate the boundary of the home ranges. We know this because they make them on the edges of their home range. Of the various forms of marking territory, scrapes appear to be the most frequently used in combination with the others.

In some places within their range their faeces may accumulate to give the appearance of a toilet. Experts sometimes refer to these as “depositories” or “scent posts”.

Faeces are normally deposited conspicuously and in prominent sites.

Juveniles, small cubs and females sometimes bury their faeces. Under these circumstances it seems that the objective is simply to eliminate waste not to mark territory. When females do this, it may be to avoid attracting attention to protect their offspring.

Some researchers have found that females increase the number of scrapes and leave their faeces uncovered around their dens with the intention, they believe, to tell others that the area is occupied.

The weather has an impact on the amount of scent marking. For instance, faeces disappear in heavy rain which is also when dung beetles are more active. The marks need to be topped up more often. Urine marking fades as well as we know and therefore bobcats regularly travel across their home range to freshen up faded urine scent marks. Other bobcats can probably read these faded scent marks to gauge where the other is or has been which helps to avoid each other in overlapping ranges.

During the breeding season scent marking increases in frequency, with visual marks combined with urine marking peeking out at this time.

During the mating season the faeces and urine of bobcats is thought to contain chemicals which provide information to males of their reproductive status.

There are many sources for this information. Please leave a comment requesting a list of sources or a specific source. I will reply promptly.

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