MELISSA, TEXAS, USA – NEWS AND COMMENT: Tucked away in this YouTube video about Mick and Melissa’s two gorgeous pet bobcats, Melissa says that both the bobcats like to use the human toilet rather than going outside or using a cat litter. This unusual behavior originates in a natural instinct to hide the odour of their faeces and urine, she said. In the wild they either urinate or defecate in a stream so the waste products are washed away by nature. With that background and that innate behavioural pattern she said that it is no surprise they prefer to use their bathroom.
I don’t recall reading about this bobcat character trait before. Normally urine and faeces are employed as distinct markers, as a calling card, to tell visiting bobcats that a resident has claimed the area. To hide the smell of feces and urine is to try and achieve the exact opposite: to be invisible.
Sometimes videos stop working and I don’t know about it. If that has happened, I am sorry.
There may be occasions when a bobcat wants to be invisible and/or submissive to other bobcats and perhaps hide their presence from other animals including humans. Perhaps they are referring to this behaviour but this would not be regular bobcat behaviour.
My reference book on the social organisation of bobcats tells me that they “use scent marks to delineate the boundaries of their home ranges, as indicated by the greater intensity of markings along boundaries. Scrapes appear to be the most frequent type of mark used, often combined with either urine or feces. At some locations large numbers of feces may accumulate to form what has been called toilets, depositories, or scent posts.”
I will continue because the information is in direct opposition to Melissa’s statement. The book goes on to state that: “Feces, when left uncovered, are usually deposited at conspicuous and prominent sites. However, adults, young kittens just out of the den, females with small kittens and juveniles sometimes bury their feces”.
So, sometimes bobcats do hide their feces. And the two bobcats in the video might be juveniles. Perhaps this is what she’s referring to. Perhaps the the cats are feeling a little anxious and decided to hide the smell of their feces and in doing so they’ve adapted to and learned how to use a human toilet.
I think this is interesting to anybody who likes to read about the wild cat species. It certainly makes living with bobcats easier. My personal opinion is that people should not live with any wild cat species because they are best left in the wild, in their own habitat to behave entirely naturally.
In the video Melissa says that her bobcats bite very hard and they’ve been scratched and bruised (broken bones in the hands!). This is almost bound to happen but you can see them playing with their bobcats a lot which they have to do because they are very energetic cats. They need to express their motivations through play-hunting because they have no other outlet for this natural activity. You can’t let them go outside. This places extra demands on owners which is one reason why I think it doesn’t really work.
They don’t mention whether their bobcats were spraying urine on the walls of their home. Perhaps in not mentioning it we can assume that they weren’t but you hear a lot of stories about medium-sized, pet wild cat species doing exactly that. I’m referring to the serval, for instance. It surely must make living with such an animal intolerable for nearly every normal person no matter how keen they are to live with an exotic pet.