Bobcat vs Panther: Key Differences Between Two Wild Felines

Bobcats and panthers are very well-known wild cats that belong to different families. Bobcat belongs to the lynx Lynx genus while Panther is a member of the Puma genus family. Despite having a lot of differences between these wild cats in terms of their size, color, and physical appearance, many people often confuse them and sometimes intermix them. It usually happens if they spot a bobcat or panther in the early stages of their life as they show some resemblance in this stage.

Bobcats have a large swathe of the population throughout the North American continent while panthers are only restricted to Florida in the USA. Panther is actually a sub-species of puma and pumas are also known as mountain lions or cougars.  In this article, we are going to compare bobcat vs panther in detail to clear all your confusion about them.

Bobcat vs Panther
Bobcat vs Panther

Bobcat’s overview

Bobcats are medium-sized wild cat species. These cats show a lot of resemblance with house cats and are also almost twice the size of domestic cats. You will notice a mixture of various colors tan, brown, and white on their coat. Bobcats are very well-known for their bobbed tail with a black tip at the end of their tail. There are black and white color spots on the back of their ears.

Bobcats exhibit a mixed type of temperament and don’t attack other big animals and human beings unless they are provoked. They are solitary in nature and nowadays being bred as exotic pet animals. Although there are certain rules and regulations for keeping these pets as exotic animals.

Panther’s overview

A black panther lying on a mountain rock
A black panther lying on a mountain rock.

Panther is a large wild cat specie that comes in a black or brown color spotted coat.  Panthers are also solitary in nature same as bobcats. These cats are also nocturnal and mostly remain active at night. Panthers prefer to live in forest-type areas where they can easily find vegetation cover. Panther is also the most famous wild cat in Florida and the Orlando region.

It has been actually declared the state animal of Florida state. Florida panther is an endangered animal and that’s why hunting the panther has been banned since 1958. With the increase in the intensity of human settlements, the natural habitat of the panther has been destroyed. It has been estimated that there is a total of 150 to 250 panthers present in Florida state.

Comparing the Bobcats Vs Panthers

Now we are going to compare bobcats with a panther on the basis of their size, body shape, diet, coat color pattern, tails, conservation status, etc.

Size: bobcat vs panther

The panthers are 3-4 times larger than the bobcats.
The panthers are 3-4 times larger than the bobcats.

Bobcats and panthers are altogether different from each other in terms of their size. Bobcat is actually a medium-sized cat which is almost double the size of house cats. The weight of the bobcat is around 35 pounds and its height is 2 feet. It could nearly reach the knee-high of an adult person.

On the other hand, the panther is a much larger-sized wild cat which is almost 3 to 4 times larger than the bobcat. On average, the weight of an adult male panther is around 130 pounds while the weight of a female panther is around 85 pounds. Panther could easily reach the thigh-high of an adult person.

Coat color: panther vs bobcat

Bobcat comes with a spotted coat with a mixture of many colors. You can notice black, brown, and red color stripes on their coat. However, the underbelly color of the bobcat is mostly white. There are also different colors marking stripes on their body.

On the other hand, the panther comes with a solid tawny brown color coat. Panthers have minor spots on their bodies and these spots become more visible until they reach the age of 6 months old. After almost 1 year, these spots started to disappear from their bodies and they become spotless when they become fully young.

Diet: bobcat vs Panther

Bobcat hunted a mouse for food
Bobcats like to hunt small animals while panther go for big game.

Bobcats don’t like to take the risk of any danger and prefer to attack small animals like rabbits, squirrels, mice, and rodents for their diet. It only comes after big animals like deer, sheep, and goats if they face scarcity of food. If bobcats are very desperate for food, then these cats might target domestic pets and dogs. Thus, you must be extra vigilant about your pets as well as children if you found any bobcats near your house.

On the other hand, panthers like to engage in the big game and target more ferocious and dangerous animals like whitetail deer. Feral hogs, etc. panthers are also being labeled as opportunistic hunters as they like to target sick, weak, and old members of animals. They also prey on bobcats. Moreover, they like to take care of their cubs very much, especially about their diet, and don’t let any disease pass from one cub to another.


The population of the bobcat is quite stable throughout North America. It has been estimated that there are almost 1-1.5 million healthy bobcats exist in this continent overall. The highest concentration of their population is in the United States of America. It was roughly estimated that 75 % of the population of the bobcat is in the USA.

On the other hand, wildlife bodies are concerned about the population of panthers. These wild cats are endangered in most regions of the world. Most of the population of panthers is in the Florida state of USA. In this state, these panthers are also in the few hundred.

Tail: bobcat vs Panther

Bobcat vs Panther tails
Bobcats have short tails while panthers’ tail is quite long.

The most prominent and distinctive difference between panther and bobcat come in terms of their tail. Bobcat has a very short bobbed-type tail which is usually curled at the end. It is usually white in color with a black tip at the end. It could reach a maximum length of 6 inches.

On the other hand, the panther has quite a long tail. The tail of the panther is even longer than the height of its body and it nearly touches the ground when they walk.  

Ears: bobcat vs Panther

bobcat and panther ears closeup
bobcat and panther ears from front

If you are looking at animals from the back side then the best way to differentiate between them is by observing the shape and color of their ears. Bobcat comes with white spots on the back of their ears. These white spots are extremely helpful in guiding the bobcat’s cubs when they follow their mothers at the night.

However, if we look at the panther from behind then we will find the back of the panther is black in color. This black color of the ears makes it more distinguishable from the overall color of their body.


The easiest and most prominent way to identify the presence of any animal anywhere in the surrounding is by the tracks of its feet. Panther leaves very large size track size. The front paws of the panther leave track which is almost 3 inches in length and width. The rear or hind paws of the panther are slightly smaller or shorter than the front paws.

You will find the track of the panther in a very irregular shape. It leaves tear-drop-shaped imprints. The toes are completely asymmetrical around the pad. You may confuse these tracks with the tracks of dogs and coyotes. But panthers come with retractable claws and these animals don’t. Usually, you will not find the claw marks on their tracks.

The track of the panther also varies from one surface to another. It also depends on whether the animal is running or just walking. On the other hand, bobcats don’t leave very big size tracks and claw marks. As far as the size of the bobcat track is concerned, it is almost half the size of a panther’s track. You will also not find any claw marks usually from their track as bobcats also come with retractable claws.

Habitat and Geographical Range

bobcats live in forests, deserts, swamps
Bobcats live in forests, deserts, swamps, etc.

The geographical range of the bobcat is quite vast. You can find these animals throughout the North American continent. According to the estimate by National Geographic, the bobcat has the widest territory than any other cat in the North American region. These cats are adaptable to both warm as well as cold kind of climates. However, you will rarely see these cats in very cold regions like Northern Canada.

These cats mainly like to reside in areas like forests, deserts, swamps, etc. The areas where they can easily hide from any invasion of outsiders.

On the other hand, the panthers also used to live in a very wide range of territory. Nowadays, they mainly reside in the Northern and southern sides.

They have been completely eliminated from the Eastern and Western sides due to excessive hunting as well as increasing human settlement activities. They like to reside in swamps, deserts, forests, woodlands, mountains, etc. The highest population of the panther is found in Florida state of the USA.

Speed and movement

There is also a difference between these cats in terms of their speed. Bobcats can only reach the maximum speed of 34 mph which is a moderate speed. But it is very slow if we compare it with the speed of the panther. Panthers can reach the maximum speed of 58 mph despite having a larger and heavier body. But they have very powerful legs.

Both cats like to move in a very stealthy manner. Panthers can also jump to the height of 20 feet and leap the trees for catching prey while bobcats could make the maximum jump of 12 feet. Bobcats first stalk and then ambush the prey at the most opportune time while panthers are very impatient about it.

Bite force

Bobcats' bite force is 548N while panthers' bite force is only 137N.
Bobcats’ bite force is 548N while panthers’ bite force is only 137N.

Bobcats are carnivorous wild cats. These cats can easily kill their prey with the help of their sharp, long, and powerful teeth. Bobcats also have a good collection of teeth which included canines, molars, premolars, and incisors. There is a total of 28 teeth in the bobcat’s mouth.

Among these, four of them are canines which are very sharp and greatly help in grabbing prey from its throat and suffocating and ultimately killing it. With these teeth, bobcats can exert a very powerful bite force of 548 newton which is much more powerful than the panther’s bite force.

The Panthers can only exert the bite force of 137 Newton. Panthers come with almost 30 teeth having sizes almost the same as the size of bobcat’s teeth. They also use their canines to target the neck of their prey.


Both cats are quite good in terms of their senses. These cats have excellent sight and hearing senses. The smelling sense of the cats is quite impressive. These senses are highly helpful in catching prey. However, at night time when these cats come out for hunting, the eyes of the bobcat give out a yellowish-white color shine while the eyes of the panther give out the glow of bright yellow color. Panther also has the upper hand over bobcats in terms of smelling sense. They can easily pick up the scent from far away.

Defense mechanism

Both wild cats are quite good in terms of defending themselves due to their strong physical capabilities. These cats utilize their sharp and powerful teeth and claws for defense against their predators. However, the panther also has an upper hand in this regard.

These cats are much better equipped in defending themselves due to their extraordinarily big size and very strong physical capabilities. Bobcats usually like to flee from the fight scene while the bobcat takes a stand and likes to fight till the end.

Offensive capabilities

Both are wild cats and extremely aggressive and fierce in their behavior. These cats have quite a good bite force as well as retractable claws. They use their claw and strong jaw for catching their prey. Panthers have much bigger sizes as well as much big claws, paws, and teeth. These cats usually like to ambush their prey after stalking them for some time.

Legs and feet

The legs of both cats are good but due to the bigger size of the panther, these cats also have longer and bigger legs. The front legs of the bobcat are shorter than the rear side legs. Bobcats can make the jump off at least 12 feet high. The size of the bobcat’s paw is also good. The size of the paw is almost 1.5 inches long and 1.75 inches wide.

On the other hand, panthers can generate much more power from their legs and can jump up to a height of 20 feet. The hind side legs of the panther are also slightly longer and larger than the front side legs of the panther. The paws of the panther are 3 inches long and 3 inches wide.

Bobcat vs Panther: who would be the ultimate winner?

In simple words, I would say Panther would be the ultimate winner as it is much more powerful in terms of overall body strength and size. Bobcats may have more powerful bite force but they could not win on the basis of just one physical attribute. Panthers are also potential predators of bobcats. Thus, the ultimate winner in the fight between the bobcat and the panther will be the panther.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, the Florida Panthers still exist. However, these cats have been listed as an endangered species under the endangered species act of IUCN. It has been banned or illegal to hunt these cats in any US state. It has been estimated there is a total of 150-250 panthers left in Florida state.

Yes, panthers are almost 3 to 4 times larger than bobcats. Panther is also 4 to 5 times heavier than bobcats. However, male panthers are heavier than female panthers. There could be no comparison between bobcats and panthers when it comes to their overall size and weight.


In nutshell, we can say bobcats and panthers are wild cats and show a lot of similarities. However, there are also differences between these cats which we have enlisted and explained very well one by one in our article. Nevertheless, if a fight happens between these cats then it is obvious that the panthers would be the ultimate winners as they have much better physical attributes and senses as compared to bobcats

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