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HomeCatAre There Wild Cats in Washington State? What to Know!

Are There Wild Cats in Washington State? What to Know!

The time period “wild cat” makes most individuals consider the lion, tiger, or cheetah. All three of those large cats, amongst others, are most likely essentially the most easy-to-recognize felines. However with their homeland being so distant for many individuals in the united statesA. — excluding those in captivity — believing that there are wild cats in your doorstep is tough. Nonetheless, in Washington state alone, there are no less than three species of untamed cats.

Whether or not you’ve caught sight of them with a path cam, discovered their footprints, or wish to shield your pets, this information will focus on the three wild cat species that you could find in Washington.

Wild Cats in Washington State

A part of what makes cats such nice hunters is their capability to vanish into no matter foliage is round them. Their persistence for mendacity in wait additionally makes it extremely tough to identify them. With all of the mountains and forested areas in Washington, it may be nigh inconceivable to identify a wild cat in particular person.

Figuring out that they’re on the market and their habits will show you how to maintain your self, pets, and youngsters protected, particularly should you reside distant from cities and cities.


close up of a bobcat
Picture Credit score: xivic, Pixabay

Not like the opposite two wild cats present in Washington, the Bobcat is essentially the most widespread and the more than likely to enterprise into suburban areas seeking meals. Whereas they’re completely happy sufficient sneaking into your suburban backyard, they’re unlikely to point out themselves round folks, and also you’ll most likely solely see hint proof of their presence.


Out of the three wild cats, Bobcats are those with a extra unique look, with dark-brown spots and stripes on their brown coats. Their coloring additionally differs barely relying on what aspect of the state that they’re in. Western Washington Bobcats are usually a a lot darker brown shade than these within the east, though each variations seem on the jap aspect of the Cascade Mountains.

They’ve tufts of fur on their ears and the edges of their head. Bobcats even have a lot shorter tails than most different cats, though it’s longer than that of the Canadian Lynx.


These cats favor rocky cliffs, ledges, log piles, and hole bushes, the place they’ll shelter and lift their younger. The Bobcat is the smallest wild cat within the state, and their measurement offers them a drawback in snowier areas, in order that they’re prone to be much less outstanding in areas that obtain heavy snowfall.


The Bobcat has comparable consuming habits because the Cougar, with their tendency to bury half-eaten carcasses and return to them later. Their quick attain as they rake grime over their meal and their small paw prints are clues as to the proprietor of a meals cache.

Though they’re smaller than Cougars and Canadian Lynxes, Bobcats are nonetheless a lot bigger than home cats. This reality is most evident of their scratching to mark their territory. Whereas domesticated cats can attain about 1½–2 toes off the bottom, Bobcats can attain anyplace between 2 and three toes excessive.

Canadian Lynx

Canadian Lynx standing on rock
Picture Credit score: Reimar, Shutterstock

Because the rarest wild cat in Washington state, you’re unlikely to identify the Canadian Lynx anyplace within the wild. They’re an endangered species, with solely a small inhabitants of fifty current in Okanogan County.

Earlier than trapping, wildfires, and habitat loss broken their numbers, the Canadian Lynx may very well be present in Chelan, Ferry, Steven, and Pend Oreille counties, together with elements of Idaho. To guard the species, Lynx trapping was made unlawful in Washington in 1991.


The rarity of the Canadian Lynx usually means they’re mistaken for the extra widespread Bobcat. Their look, nonetheless, significantly differs from their smaller wild cat cousins. Bigger than the Bobcat however nonetheless smaller than the Cougar, the Canadian Lynx has lengthy ear tufts and lengthy legs, though their tails are fairly quick. In addition they have an arched again, which is especially obvious on their rear finish.

Total, the Canadian Lynx is primarily grey with few distinguishable markings, in contrast to the Bobcat’s dark-spotted brown coat.


Not like the Bobcat, which prefers areas with much less snowfall, the Canadian Lynx makes their residence in areas greater than 4,600 toes. Whereas they like forested areas with loads of protection — notably Engelmann spruce, lodgepole pine, and subalpine forests — they often select areas that obtain a considerable amount of snowfall. Their giant paws give them a eager benefit over Bobcats and coyotes in relation to searching in deep snow.


cougar on a rock in a zoo
Picture Credit score: villagequirks, Pixabay

The most important wild cat in Washington state is the Cougar. Also called the Puma or Mountain Lion, Cougars are typically solitary and like to remain nicely out of the way in which of people. They’re so adept at staying out of sight that you simply’re not prone to see one in particular person in any respect.

Cougars principally feed on deer and elk however have been recognized to hunt mountain goats, wild sheep, coyotes, and rabbits, together with different small prey animals.


A cougar is often a strong shade that varies between reddish brown, tawny, and grey. Kittens, nonetheless, share the identical noticed look because the Bobcat till they’re 4–5 months previous. Not like the 2 different wild cats in Washington, the Cougar has a protracted tail and doesn’t have ear tufts.


Supplied that there’s loads of protection for them to cover in, Cougars could be discovered all through Washington. In comparison with the Bobcat, nonetheless, Cougars hardly ever enterprise anyplace close to city areas. They like searching in areas that present loads of hiding locations, equivalent to canyons, boulders, dense brush, and forests. The male’s residence vary can cowl anyplace between 50 and 150 sq. miles.


Like Bobcats, Cougars bury any leftovers of their kills to return to later. As soon as they’ve made their meals cache, they’ll linger within the space for a number of days till they’ve completed with the carcass. They’ll usually drag their prey to secluded, well-covered areas.

Their scratch marks to mark their territory are no less than 4–8 toes above the bottom and are a lot deeper and extra pronounced than these of their Bobcat cousins.

Easy methods to Hold Animals and Kids Secure From Wild Cats

cougar lying on a big rock
Picture Credit score: enki0908, Pixabay

Whereas animals like livestock and pets are extra in danger from wild cats, Cougars have been recognized to assault kids and the occasional grownup. These cats typically choose to hunt deer, nonetheless, and would a lot quite keep out of people’ paths. Nonetheless, you’ll be able to take steps to make sure the security of you, your loved ones, and your pets.

Don’t Stroll Alone

Cougars and every other predator will select the best goal. Kids and adults who’re on their very own are each extra in danger than teams. When you reside in an space the place a Cougar has been sighted, take precautions by not mountain climbing alone and by supervising kids after they play exterior.

Fenced Play Areas

Cats can soar fairly excessive, and never a lot can cease them from getting someplace they wish to be. Nonetheless, a great fence does pose sufficient of an impediment that it’d deter a Cougar or different wild cats from intruding on the place your kids are taking part in.

Guardian Animals

Many farmers use livestock guardians to look at over their livestock for them. These animals could be donkeys, llamas, or canine, and so they have been recognized to significantly minimize down on the variety of predator assaults.

A correctly educated canine can also be among the finest early-warning techniques if a Cougar does wander too near your property. They’ll be capable of scent and listen to the risk lengthy earlier than you’ll be able to and can sound the alarm.


There are three wild cat species in Washington. The Bobcat and Cougar are essentially the most widespread, whereas the endangered Canadian Lynx is far much less widespread. Even should you by no means see these cats out within the wild, realizing that they’re on the market will show you how to take precautions and maintain your loved ones protected.

Featured Picture Credit score: bmarxdueren, Pixabay



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