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Bobcat vs. Mountain Lion: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 17, 2023
A bobcat is a smaller wild cat with tufted ears and a short tail, while a mountain lion is a larger predator also known as a cougar or puma.

Key Differences

Bobcats are medium-sized wildcats with distinctive pointed ears and a stubby "bobbed" tail, which gives them their name. In contrast, mountain lions are much larger predators, known for their muscular build and longer tails, which can be as long as three feet.
A bobcat's coat usually features spots or stripes, which help them blend into their surroundings, especially when stalking prey. On the other hand, mountain lions typically have a solid-colored coat, often tawny or grayish, without prominent markings.
While bobcats are versatile and can be found in various habitats across North America, from forests to semi-deserts, mountain lions have an even broader range, stretching from Canada to South America. They can inhabit both mountains and plains.
A bobcat's diet typically consists of smaller prey like rabbits, birds, or rodents. In contrast, mountain lions, being larger, tend to hunt deer, elk, and even other predators on occasion. Their powerful build allows them to tackle larger prey with ease.
Another distinctive difference is their behavior. While both are solitary animals, bobcats are often more tolerant of human presence and might be seen in areas closer to human settlements. Mountain lions, however, are more reclusive and tend to avoid areas heavily populated by humans.

Comparison Chart


Medium-sized wildcat.
Much larger predator.


Pointed ears, bobbed tail, often spotted.
Muscular, long tail, solid-colored coat.


Forests to semi-deserts across North America.
Ranges from Canada to South America; mountains to plains.


Smaller prey like rabbits, birds.
Larger prey like deer, elk.

Human Proximity

Can be seen closer to human settlements.
More reclusive, avoids populated areas.

Bobcat and Mountain Lion Definitions


Known for its tufted ears and short tail.
I recognized the animal as a bobcat because of its tail.

Mountain Lion

Hunts larger prey including deer and elk.
The deer remains were evidence of a mountain lion's hunt.


Solitary predator that hunts smaller prey.
The bobcat stalked the rabbit with precision.

Mountain Lion

Inhabits a wide range from mountains to plains.
The mountain lion's territory stretched over several miles.


Adaptable and can live in various habitats.
The bobcat thrives in both forests and grasslands.

Mountain Lion

A large wildcat also known as a cougar or puma.
The mountain lion is known for its stealth and power.


A medium-sized wildcat native to North America.
The bobcat left its tracks in the snow.

Mountain Lion

Has a solid-colored coat without prominent markings.
The tawny fur of the mountain lion camouflaged it in the grass.


Often has a spotted or striped coat.
The bobcat's coat helps it camouflage in the woods.

Mountain Lion

Solitary and reclusive, often avoiding human areas.
Mountain lions are rarely seen due to their elusive nature.


A wild cat (Lynx rufus) of North America, having spotted reddish-brown fur, tufted ears, and a short tail. Also called bay lynx.


A North American wildcat, Lynx rufus, having tufted ears and a short tail.


A multi-purpose construction vehicle, akin to a smaller version of a front-end loader or a backhoe (backhoe loader), with a one-man caged control cabin.


Small lynx (Lynx rufus) of North America.


Small lynx of North America


Where do mountain lions live?

Mountain lions inhabit a wide range, from Canada to South America, in both mountainous and flat terrains.

Do bobcats attack humans?

While rare, bobcats can attack if threatened or if humans come too close to their kittens.

Can I spot a bobcat during the day?

While bobcats are primarily nocturnal, they can be occasionally seen during daylight.

How big can a mountain lion get?

Mountain lions can weigh up to 200 pounds or more.

Are mountain lions and cougars the same?

Yes, mountain lion is another name for the cougar.

Are bobcats endangered?

Bobcats are not currently endangered, but their habitat is under threat in some areas.

What do bobcats eat?

Bobcats primarily eat smaller prey like rabbits, birds, and rodents.

How fast can a mountain lion run?

Mountain lions can reach speeds up to 50 mph in short bursts.

Are mountain lions aggressive towards humans?

While rare, mountain lions can be aggressive, especially if cornered or if a human comes near their cubs.

How far can a mountain lion jump?

Mountain lions can leap as far as 40 feet when running.

How long can bobcats live?

In the wild, bobcats can live up to 10-12 years.

Can bobcats swim?

Yes, bobcats can swim but typically prefer not to.

Do mountain lions have any predators?

While they are apex predators, mountain lions can be threatened by other large predators, humans, and even by their own kind.

Where does the name "mountain lion" come from?

The name reflects the animal's habitat and its lion-like appearance.

What is a bobcat?

A bobcat is a medium-sized wildcat native to North America.

Do mountain lions climb trees?

Yes, mountain lions are excellent climbers and can often be found in trees.

How long is a bobcat's tail?

A bobcat's tail is typically between 4 to 7 inches long.

How can I differentiate a mountain lion's track from other animals?

Mountain lion tracks are roundish with a distinctive "M" shape at the front and don't have claw marks.

Do bobcats live in groups?

No, bobcats are solitary animals.

Are bobcats related to domestic cats?

Yes, bobcats belong to the Felidae family, making them relatives of domestic cats.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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