Both bobcats and mountain lions, often called pumas, panthers or cougars, share the vast North American territory, stretching as far south as Mexico to the northern region of Canada, south of Alaska. Both cats are considered fierce predators, the bobcat being part of the Lynx genus and the mountain lion belonging to the Puma genus.
Difference in Coat
The coat of a North American panther is a sandy tan color, and the hair tends to be short and sleek. This large cat is often called a mountain lion because it resembles the coloring and stature of a lion. The bobcat also has a sandy tan coat, but the bobcat is a long-haired cat and the coat is speckled with darker shades. Two marked features of the appearance of the bobcat are the short nub tail and the long, dark tufts of hair at the top of the ears.
Differences in Size
Panthers are the largest North American cat and can reach up to 5.25 feet long from head to the end of the body and can weigh up to 136 lbs. Including its tail, panther size can reach 8 feet long. The bobcat is significantly smaller and from head to end of the body can measure up to 3.4 feet. The bobcat is often described as being about twice the size of a house cat and can weigh up to 30 lbs.
Habitat and Range
The bobcat is a predator that mostly inhabits North America, where it lives in forests, swamps and deserts. According to the National Geographic, the bobcat has the widest range of territory of any North American wildcat. Though bobcats can live in both warm and cold climates, they are less frequently seen in northern Canada. The panther used to dominate a similar range as the bobcat but has been eliminated from the East and Midwest, now living only in the North, West and Southwest, though some still survive in Florida. This is because of excessive hunting. However, the panther can be found throughout South America and can live in marshes, deserts, rain forests, woodlands, swamps and mountains.
Prey and Predators
Because bobcats are smaller than panthers, their prey is smaller and they tend to have more threatening predators. Bobcats will eat rabbits, squirrels, turkeys, chickens, rats and small sick deer. Predators of bobcats are panthers, coyotes, foxes, wolves, owls and humans. The panther, because of its size and strength, tends to kill larger prey and has fewer predators. Panthers tend to hunt deer, elk, coyotes, bobcats and sometimes smaller prey such as raccoons and the porcupines. The panther's main predator is man.
The bobcat and panther paw print is similar, though the panther's are larger. Comparing the Florida panther vs bobcat tracks, for instance, the panther kitten has larger tracks than an adult bobcat.
About the Author
Marianne Luke has been writing professionally since 2005. She has experience writing instruction manuals, research, fiction, nonfiction and poetry, and she also reviews Orlando local music for "Orange Ave Lab" magazine. Luke earned a Bachelor of Arts in technical communications and creative writing from the University of Central Florida in 2010.