Bobcat vs Mountain Lion: The Top Predators Of North America

Bobcats and mountain lions or cougars belong to the Felidae family and are commonly found throughout the North American continent. Both are very aggressive and fierce wild cats and are considered apex predators. As you know cats share territory or habitat with each other. Thus, it is obvious that these cats occasionally encounter each other. At every interaction, a fight happens between them and one of them becomes the winner.

In this article, we are going to dissect the relationship between bobcat vs mountain lion based on their overall size, appearance, offensive capabilities, predatory behavior, strength, etc. If you are interested to know about the relationship between these cats then this article is for you.

Bobcat vs Mountain Lion
Bobcat vs Mountain Lion.

Bobcat overview

Bobcats belong to the lynx genus and are very notoriously shy cats. It is found in North America and is much smaller in size as compared to a cougar. You might mix these cats with house cats or Canadian lynxes appearance-wise. These cats are solitary by nature and only come together during mating season. These cats make several kinds of sounds or noises under various circumstances.

Bobcats have tuft ears and long spotted coats having various kinds of patterns. Bobcats are very agile and quietly hunt down animals like rodents, mice, deer, goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, etc. There is a lot of commercial importance in bobcat fur as it is quite useful for various purposes.

Mountain lion overview

Mountain lion in Utah

The mountain lion is also a very well-known wild cat and is usually known by various names such as puma, cougar, panther, and catamount. It is among the largest wild cat in North America. These cats can easily withstand harsh weather conditions. The geographical range of these cats lies between North and South America.

Cougars are incredible hunters and there is a very stable population of cougars in North America. These cats are solitary by nature and could act both diurnal as well as nocturnal. These wild cats cannot not roar but hiss, whistle, and chirp.

Scientific classifications of bobcats and mountain lions

BobcatsMountain Lions
Scientific nameLynx RufusScientific namePuma Con-color

What are the main differences between a mountain lion and a bobcat?

The main difference between a mountain lion and a bobcat comes in terms of its overall size, speed, and appearance. When it comes to size, then it is obvious that mountain lions are longer, taller, and heavier than bobcats. For instance, mountain lions weigh around 130 pounds while the weight of a bobcat is just around 33 pounds. Moreover, the mountain lion comes with a height of 3 ft while bobcats are just 2 feet tall.

However, bobcats have an edge when it comes to speed. It is almost 5 mph faster than a mountain lion. Appearance-wise, mountain lion looks almost the same as female lion and are only slightly short in size while bobcats have a resemblance with house cats but bobcats can not be kept as pet cats.

Comparing mountain lions and bobcats

Indeed, bobcats and mountain lions are wild cats and share a habitat with each other but there are many stark or key differences between these wild cats. We are going to compare these wild cats on the basis of their size, speed, bite force, combative skills, senses, predatory behavior, offensive capabilities, and defense mechanism. These are the features that can decide the result of the ultimate battle between these wild cats.

FeatureBobcatMountain lion
SizeHeight: 12-24 inches Weight: 35-40 pounds Length: 2-3.5 feetHeight:24-36 inches Weight: 60-130 pounds Length: 5-8 feet
Speed35 mph30 mph
Bite force548 N1311 N
SensesGood vision, excellent smelling sense, good hearing sense.Perfect vision, top-notch hearing capability, but poor smelling sense.
TailBobbed tail, almost 3-7 inches with a noticeable black tip.Thick and cylindrical tail and could be as long as 25-38 inches.
Defense mechanismGood running speed, scary yowls, and screams.Large size, good speed, good senses.
HabitatMountains, rocky canyons.Forests, rugged outcrops.
Offensive capabilitiesStrong bite force, sharp and retractable claws.Powerful jaws, long teeth.
Population40,000-50,0001.4 million
Predatory behaviorAmbush stalker, fatal bite force, soft feet to run behind prey.Ambush predators, quiet hunters, ambush attacking.
Prey onSmall animals like rodents, chickens, and rabbits.Preferable eat deer and also prey on big animals like coyotes, bobcats, and wild dogs.
Life span7-8 years8-14 years

Bobcat vs mountain lion size

The mountain lion is a very big size animal with a very heavy weight of 130 pounds. It very efficiently stalks its prey and strikes at the optimum time. It is actually much larger than a bobcat in terms of size. The height of the mountain lion is around 3 feet which is also 1 foot higher than the bobcat. Overall, the mountain lion is 8 feet long.

On the other hand, bobcats weigh around 35-40 pounds, have a height of 2 feet, and are almost 3.5 feet in length. Overall, bobcats are a good size for wild cats but it is much smaller as compared to mountain lion. Thus, we can say mountain lion has an edge over bobcats when it comes to size.

Speed: Mountain lion vs bobcat

Speed and size are actually inversely related in most cases. Speed does not come with size. The size actually reduces the overall speed. The mountain lion has very big size but it also comes with a good speed of 30 mph. With this speed, it can easily stalk and ambush its prey.

On the other hand, the bobcat has a very good speed. On average, it can run at a speed of 35 mph. It means it can easily tear through the plains, forests, woodlands, and mountains quite easily. Thus, the bobcat has an edge over the mountain lion in terms of speed.


Bobcat and mountain lion facial difference
Mountain lions have smooth looking facial fur while bobcats have a ruff of fur on cheeks.

Bobcat is completely different from a mountain lion in terms of facial appearance. You will find the ruff of fur on both sides of bobcat cheeks while mountain lions have very smooth-looking but short fur. The fur on the mountain lion is equally distributed throughout its body while you will find very thick fur around the neck of a bobcat.


Bobcat tuft ears
Bobcats have tuft ears.

Bobcats are actually a member of the lynx family and all the cats of this family come with tuft ears. The size of the tuft varies from one bobcat to another. This gives them distinctive look. On the other hand, the mountain lion has smooth edges on its ears. Both cats come with henry’s pockets which are extremely good to hear high-pitched sounds.  


Both of these cats are known for making various kinds of noises. In the wilderness, you may have heard very weird noises women like screaming which is mainly done by the bobcats. These cats have also ventured into human settlements. That’s why you occasionally experience these voices in your daily routine. Bobcat also makes several other noises like yelling, chirping, yowling, growling, etc. on the other hand, mountain lions make typical noises like hissing, whistling, and chirping.


The pattern of the footprints of these cats is almost the same except for some differences in the sizes of their paw. Mountain lion leaves very large size tracks and it seems like 4 round digits. The foot pad would be like a carpal pad. Bobcats also leave footprints almost the same as the footprints of mountain lions. But it is just 2 inches long and has almost the same width while the length of the mountain lion track is almost 3-5 inches. Sometimes, you may intermix the footprints of the bobcat with the footprints of the foxes. However, bobcats don’t leave claw marks as these cats come with retractable claws.

Senses: Bobcats vs mountain lions

Bobcats vs mountain lions senses
Compared to mountain lions, bobcats have excellent smelling sense.

It is extremely hard to compare animals, especially cats on the basis of their senses. Both of these cats are extremely good in terms of their senses. These cats also utilize these senses to hunt down their prey. Both bobcats and mountain lions have good vision and hearing senses. But the mountain lions are not good in terms of smelling sense while the bobcat is excellent in smelling. Thus, the bobcat has an edge over the mountain lion in terms of sense.

Defense mechanism: Mountain lion vs bobcat

Mountain lions are very scary to look at as they are very big in size and also show a lot of resemblance with female lions. That’s why most animals don’t like to engage with mountain lions out of fear. Mountain lions are also very stealthy creatures and extremely hard to spot in the wilderness. Bobcats are very well-known for their speed and sounds which they utilize for their defense against their predators as well as human beings.

With its terrifying scream and loud yowling, it can easily scare off its potential predators. Thus, we can say mountain lion has an edge over bobcat in terms of defense mechanism as they have natural defense capabilities due to their scary look.

Poop: mountain lion vs bobcat

Poop is the best way to find out what kind of animals are living in any particular area. The scat could also help you understand what are the ingredients in the diet of an animal. You will find the bobcat’s poop in circular, tubular, or segmented shapes. You will find it 3 to 5 inches long and almost 1 inch wide. Mountain lion also gives out segmented type poop which is almost 7 to 15 inches long and 1-2 inches thick.

Combat skills: bobcat v mountain lion

Mountain lion combat skills
Mountains lions engage in a fight while bobcats are stealthy.

Combative skills of animals are also quite important other than size, weight, and speed. If you don’t have proper combat skills, then you might get killed even after having a very big size and aggressive striking force. Both of these cats exhibit good combative skills. Mountain lions like to engage in a fight and don’t run away in whatever circumstances they are. On the other hand, bobcats are stealthy cats and like to run away from these awkward situations.

Offensive capabilities: mt lion vs bobcat

Bobcats have small sizes but very powerful bite force as well as retractable claws. They are also good in terms of jumping and ambushing. By ambushing, bobcats target the neck or throat of the prey as these are the most sensitive parts of any animal.

On the other hand, mountain lion doesn’t apply these tricks and directly apply their deadly biting force and sharp teeth to break the bones of their prey. They even don’t like to apply the power of their claws while hunting down their prey. Thus, both cats are equally offensive.

Predatory behavior

Both wild cats are apex predators and use their own kind of techniques to hunt down their prey. Generally, the method is the same they first stalk the prey and strike at an opportune time and then kill it immediately. Mountain lions usually first pounce on the prey then wrap it on the ground and give the fatal blow on the neck, back, or shoulder. Thus, mountain lions act more aggressively when it comes to hunting down their prey. Source.

Similarities between mountain lions and bobcats

Similarities between mountain lions and bobcats - infographics
Similarities between mountain lions and bobcats – infographics
  • Both are solitary in nature.
  • Both are excellent swimmers.
  • Both like to mark their territory.
  • Both are carnivores and prefer to prey on small animals.

Bobcat vs mountain lion: who would be the ultimate winner?

In simple words, we can say that the mountain lion would be the ultimate winner. Bobcats may be capable of hunting down very big animals than its own size but mountain lion is much bigger and more aggressive at the same time. The fight between them usually happens when one cat stalks the other and strikes ultimately.

Bobcat may smell the mountain lion somewhere and stalk but the killing of the mountain lion is only possible if the bobcat strike at the right time with full bite force at the weak point. If they fight on an equal basis then the bobcat may have an edge of speed but overall it could not sustain the powerful pounces of mountain lion and ultimately succumb to the injuries.

Mountain lion vs bobcat vs cougar

Bobcats are wild cats that are found throughout the North American continent. Mountain lions and cougars are actually the names of the same animal. You may call a cougar a mountain lion and vice versa. Bobcats belong to different families and genera.

Which is more dangerous a mountain lion or a bobcat?

mountain lions are more dangerous as compared to bobcats.
mountain lions are more vicious as compared to bobcats.

Both of these animals are wild cats and could be equally dangerous under any circumstances. These are carnivores wild cats and like to eat meat. It means it is extremely necessary for the pet as well as human beings, especially the kids to maintain a distance from these deadly animals. The mountain lion, being the big size animal, is more vicious as compared to the bobcat. Thus, it is necessary to keep a distance from these wild cats as these could be extremely deadly for you.

Can bobcats breed with mountain lions?

No, these are wild cats and could not be bred in the same place at the same time. They also belong to different genera as well as different families. It means that these cats are altogether different from each other in terms of their habits, daily routine, and dietary needs. Most probably, these cats will definitely fight over territory. It is being said that bobcat mountain lion hybrids exist in the world but no one has proven this with evidence.

Do mountain lions eat bobcats?

Yes, there are chances of bobcats being eaten by a mountain lion. Mountain lions are actually the potential predators of bobcats. However, mountain lions prefer to choose easy prey but if food is scarce and there is nothing else to eat then it would definitely prey on bobcats.

Mountain lions need to eat a lot of meat and it has been estimated that they eat 30-40 pounds of meat per day. It means they would not just kill the bobcat and go away, they will definitely kill and ultimately eat their prey. Sometimes, these cats also clash on territory and bobcats end up being killed by the cougars.

Frequently asked questions

No, it is not impossible for these cats to get along. Mountain lions are actually the natural predators of bobcats. They fight on territory whenever they share their habitat. Sometimes they also fight for food sources as they are both carnivore animals.

No, the bobcat stands no chance in a fight with a mountain lion. Bobcats may take down animals larger than themselves but there is no chance against the mountain as mountain lions are much bigger, more aggressive, and deadly.

It is easy to distinguish between these wild cats. Mountain lions are much bigger. Bobcats have very short and bobbed tails as compared to cougars. The facial ruffs and furs also make these animals altogether different from each other.


In a nutshell, we can say bobcats and mountain lions are completely different from each other. We have compared them in detail on the basis of their size, shape, facial appearance, colors, coat pattern, tail, diet, etc. These wild cats occasionally share territory with each other but they only end in a fight if they encounter each other as there is no symbiotic relationship between them.

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