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Similarities And Differences Between Mountain Lion And Bobcat

Similarities And Differences Between Mountain Lion And Bobcat

Both Bobcat and Mountain Lion are big and graceful wild cats. I believe most of you could easily even mistake these two breeds.

Yes, they can appear to be similar, especially when you observe them from a distance. However, there are some important differences between them, such as size, dietary habits, and the level of danger they present for humans.

Just like domestic cats, all wild cats have their appearance, temperament, and behavioral traits specific to their breeds.

Let’s see how Mountain Lions and Bobcats are similar, but what sets them apart.

Mountain Lion Vs Bobcat Overview

Mountain Lion Bobcat
Weight  60-220 pounds15-35 pounds
Height   25-30 inches18-24 inches
Coat colorTan to light cinnamon with a white underbellyBuff to brown, marked with stripes or spots of black and brown
TemperamentTerritorial, solitary, agileSolitary, shy, elusive
Dietary needs  Deer, coyotes, rodents, elksRabbits, rats, squirrels, birds
Habitat Mountainous terrains and rocky canyonsMixed forests, desert and scrublands, coastal swamps
Population     Around 50,000 worldwideBetween 2.3 million and 3.5 million
Lifespan   8-13 years7-8 years


Mountain Lion on a rock

The most obvious difference between the Mountain Lion and the Bobcat is their size.

The Mountain Lion isn’t a common sight. This is why it’s possible to mistake them for a Bobcat or any other wild animal.

This cat is also known under the following names: the Cougar, the Panther, the Catamount, or the Puma.

Its most distinctive trait is its large size. The Mountain Lion weighs from 60 to an impressive 220 pounds! Of course, males are heavier than females. The average height of this wild cat breed goes from 25 to 30 inches.

The Bobcat is significantly smaller, with an average weight of 15 to 35 pounds and a height of 18 to 24 inches.

Body And Facial Features

The Mountain Lion can be recognized for its very long tail. On the other hand, the Bobcat has a very short tail.

They do look similar in terms of a muscular body and large paws.

The Mountain Lat has a small head and rounded and small ears. Its body is very long and sleek, and its legs are powerful.

Conversely, the Bobcat is a medium-sized cat known for its pointed ears and prominent cheek ruffs.

Coat Colors

Bobcat in winter

The coat is another significant difference between these two cats.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, the Mountain Lion has a tawny-beige fur with a white belly and chest. It can also feature black markings around the snout, and on the tip of the tail and ears.

On the contrary, Bobcats have a buff to brown coat with black or dark brown spots or stripes on their body.


The Mountain Lion Bobcat and Bobcat are similar in temperament and behavior.

The Mountain Lion is a solitary and territorial cat that loves hunting during night.

The Wild Life Informer points out that these wild felines are exceptional swimmers, which is something we don’t usually see with cats.

They are also exceptional predators, known for silently stalking their prey and pouncing them from behind.

Similar to Mountain Lions, Bobcats are also nocturnal cats, meaning that people rarely see them.

They are shy, territorial, and elusive. Bobcats hunt on the ground but are also great at climbing.

These cats aren’t interested in people and usually won’t be up for interacting with them. Although a Bobcat can appear to be tamed, it’s still a wild cat with its specific needs. 

This doesn’t mean that they will certainly attack a human, but, it does mean that they aren’t supposed to be family pets.

These breeds belong to the wild where their natural instincts will be satisfied. You can find some more useful information in our article on the differences between bobcats and house cats.

Dietary Needs

Mountain Lion in a steady position

Considering the difference in their size, it’s easy to conclude that Mountain Lions and Bobcats have different dietary needs.

The Mountain Lion mostly focuses on larger prey, such as deer, coyotes, rodents, and raccoons. 

According to the Mountain Lion Foundation, these felines sometimes also drag their prey to another area and then cover it with grass or dry leaves to protect it from other predators. They are likely to return and eat the leftover meat after a couple of days.

Bobcats prefer smaller species, such as chickens, birds, rabbits, rats, and mice. 

Danger For Humans

Just seeing an image of any wild cat will likely make you think of the danger it presents for humans.

But, what are the chances of both Mountain Lions and Bobcats attacking people? Extremely low, actually.

Both of these cats avoid people and are concentrated on hunting their prey. Also, the chances that you actually see a Mountain Lion are pretty low. 

As the Wildlife Investigations Lab suggests, there have been four fatal incidents with six victims associated with the Mountain Lion attack around the turn of the previous century.

However, this doesn’t mean that this cat won’t attack a human if it senses it as a threat. Just remember how large and powerful this predator is!

Bobcats are not known for attacking humans. Also, since they are smaller than Mountain Lions, they seem less intimidating.

If this cat notices you, it will most likely run away as soon as possible. Still, bear in mind that Bobcat is not a domesticated animal and may still attack if it feels threatened or startled.


Grey Bobcat

As the breed name itself suggests, Mountain Lions mostly live on mountainous terrains. They can also be seen in rocky canyons.

Their preferred locations are places where they can find deer! The US Department of Agriculture explains that male Mountain Lions typically establish home ranges spanning over 100 square miles, while females occupy smaller areas, roughly ranging from 20 to 60 square miles.

As the Bobcats go, these felines live in coastal swamps, mixed forests, deserts, and scrublands.

Bobcats are far more widespread than Mountain Lions and live almost everywhere in the continental United States.

Since they’re solitary animals, they will avoid people and loud neighborhoods. They prefer to sleep during the day and hunt during the night. This is why people rarely see them, despite their wide presence.


There is also a big difference between the populations of these two wild cats.

It’s believed that there are around 50,000 Mountain Lions in the world currently. This means that this species has significantly decreased in number.

There is a significantly higher likelihood of seeing a Bobcat than a Mountain Lion. It’s estimated that there are around 2.3 to 3.5 million of Bobcats worldwide.


The average lifespan of a Mountain Lion is estimated to be from 8 to 13 years. Bobcats usually live shorter, around 7 to 8 years.

Both of these cats can live longer in captivity – Mountain Lions up to 21 years, and Bobcats even up to 25 years!

Can Bobcats And Mountain Lions Breed?

Mountain Lion baby

These two cats have some similarities in appearance and belong to the same family. Therefore, here arises the question of whether it’s possible to breed a Mountain Lion with a Bobcat.

Scientific researchers are limited in this area, but it’s possible to give a general assumption on this issue.

They can be similar, but definitely aren’t the same cats. Also, Bobcats and Mountain Lions live in different habitats. This can significantly limit the possibility of them even getting close to each other.

Furthermore, these two wild cats have genetic differences. Every cat breed has a unique set of genes and reproductive mechanisms that are developed based on their specific lifestyle and surroundings.

The huge difference in their size also makes the interbreeding difficult to carry out.

All these reasons result in the fact that it isn’t very likely that a Bobcat and a Mountain Lion will mate.

Even if they do, since this is possible in theory, the chances of their offspring surviving would be exceedingly low.


Even if you weren’t well-known with any of these breeds before, I believe things are clearer to you now.

These two are both large wild cats, with a passion for solitary life and their own territory. Still, the Mountain Lion is a lot larger and more intimidating than a Bobcat.

Bobcats always have spotted coats, while the Mountain Lion usually features a solid-colored coat.

The Bobcat can live in different habitats, while the Mountain Lions are mostly seen in mountainous terrains. Also, Bobcats are fans of small prey, while Mountain Lions prefer deer and coyotes.

It isn’t likely that you’ll see any of these wild breeds. However, hikers and nature lovers have a better chance of noticing a Bobcat, since there are a lot more of them than Mountain Lions.

Hopefully, this text has provided you with a fair insight into the differences between Mountain Lions and Bobcats.

In the end, they are both wild felines who love solitude and aren’t meant to be tamed.