Bobcats in Washington State are difficult to spot, thanks to their ability to blend in with their surroundings. Bobcats adapt quickly to different environments and can live just about anywhere. In North America there are two recognized subspecies, the Lynx rufus rufus which prowls the Eastern and Midwestern regions of the country, and Lynx rufus fasciatus, which makes its home west of the Great Plains. Bobcats are extremely common in Washington State, but are difficult to catch sight of, as they are masters of disguise. A bobcat’s spotted, dark and light coat, easily blends into its surroundings making it difficult for predators to see.

Keep reading to discover more about these experts at camouflage and where you can find them in Washington State.

Two bobcats underneath a rock outcropping , with green grass covering the lower part of the frame. The slightly larger cat, frame left, is peering at the camera, while the smaller cat, frame right, is looking down toward the grass. The cats are grey with dark markings. The rocks look almost pink, with sunlight shining on the top.
A bobcat’s spotted, dark and light coat, easily blends into its surroundings making it difficult for predators to see.

Johann Knox/

What kind of wild cats live in Washington State?

mammalWashington, bobcats aren’t easy to spot. Known for their short, stubby, black-tipped tails, bobcats are solitary creatures that prefer to live alone. They are also exceptionally territorial, and will not hesitate to defend their den.

Canada lynx, which are often mistaken for a bobcats, are an endangered species with fewer than 100, remaining in the wilds of Washington. The Canada lynx has triangular ears with black tips and fluffy fur surrounding its face. It’s especially known for its large paws.

Canada Lynx on the edge of the ice along Alaska highway at Johnson's Crossing, Yukon, Canada. The background consists of a body of water. The lynx is staring straight ahead, center frame. It as hello-green eyes and sharp, well-defind black points on its ears. Its paws are large, there is a black circle of fur at the top of its tail, which is longer than you'd think.
The Canada lynx has triangular ears with black tips and fluffy fur surrounding its face.

Jukka Jantunen/

Differences Between a Canada Lynx and a Bobcat

The bobcat is easily confused with the Canada lynx thanks to their similar appearance. Both are native to North America and approximately the same size, but there are ways to tell them apart. One difference is paw size. Canada lynxes have much larger paws than bobcats. Their paws are larger and spread out to withstand the cold as lynxes live in colder climates. Ironically, the Canada lynx has a shorter tail than the bobcat! Canada lynxes’ tails range from 2 to 5 inches, whereas bobcats rarely have tails shorter than 3 inches, which can be as long as 8-9 inches. The Canada lynx prefers to make its home in heavily wooded areas, while bobcats are less particular and will live in swamps or marshes when other territories are not an option.

Where Do Bobcats Live?

Bobcats are found across the state of Washington. Their habitats range from heavily wooded areas and rock outcroppings to marshland, and even urban and suburban environs. Bobcats, whose diet includes small rodents and birds, typically make their dens and raise their kittens, with litters of up to six, in a hollow tree or under the cover of thick brush.

Center frame is face and front left leg of bobcat peering at the camera from underneath a rock outcropping. It is snowing and the rocks have snow on them. The cat is grey with dark stripes and green eyes.
Bobcat under shelter…….

Daniel Friend/

Bobcats in Washington State: Where Do They Go During The Day?

Though they are considered nocturnal, bobcats don’t require a lot of sleep , sleeping no more than 2-3 hours a day, which explains why they can be seen in broad daylight. Occasionally, bobcats will venture out into neighborhoods during daylight hours to search of food, but they’re more likely to be found lounging in their dens, which is how these stub-tailed cats spend the majority of their day. Bobcats are territorial, leaving marks and their scent in their territory. However, they also have multiple dens within a few square feet of each other, giving them more options for lounging!

Though bobcats aren’t the only big cats in the state of Washington, they are the most common.

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