I was on Tiktok the other day watching a video of a man and his pet bobcat, and I was shocked to find how many people in the comment section were claiming to have a cat that was “part bobcat.” I probably shouldn’t be, though, considering how I regularly receive emails asking for help with a “bobcat” only to receive pictures and find out it is simply a domestic cat with a bobbed tail. The idea that someone could have a domestic cat/bobcat hybrid is a prevalent myth–one I personally believed when I was younger–so let’s talk about it!
Is my cat part bobcat?
No. As cool as domestic cat/bobcat hybrids might sound, there is no way your domestic cat is part bobcat.
Can a Domestic Cat and a Bobcat Reproduce?
No, bobcats and housecats are not able to reproduce. Domestic cats (Felis catus) and bobcats (Lynx rufus) are different species from different genera and have significant genetic differences. While they are both part of the Felidae family, their genetic makeup is not compatible for successful breeding. There have been studies showing bobcat sperm has the capability to fertilize domestic cat eggs, however these embryos do not have the ability to make it past the morula stage (meaning the hybrid embryo only ever has about 16-32 cells before dying.)
Can Domestic Cats Be Part Bobcat?
Given that domestic cats and bobcats cannot interbreed, it’s biologically impossible for a domestic cat to be part bobcat.
How Do I Know If My Cat Is Part Bobcat?
Since it’s genetically impossible for domestic cats to be part bobcat, there’s no need for a test to determine this. However, if you are worried that your house cat is actually a bobcat, you can always have genetic testing done on your cat to see which breeds are in its DNA.
Alternatively, if you think a bobcat you have might have some domestic cat in it, there is a surefire test that can tell you whether or not that is the case. This test can determine if your cat is actually a bobcat by looking for a specific genetic element, enFeLV-LTR, which is present in domestic cats but not in bobcats. If the test does not find this marker, that means your bobcat does not have any domestic cat DNA in it.
Do Bobcat Hybrids Exist?
Yes, but not with domestic cats. Bobcat hybrids do exist in the form of bobcat/lynx crosses. While such hybrids used to be rare, rising temperatures due to climate change is causing the bobcat’s territory to expand north and bobcat/lynx hybrids to become more common. It’s important to note that these hybrids are not linked to domestic cats.
Are Pixiebob Cats Related to Bobcats?
Pixiebob cats are a domestic breed known for their resemblance to bobcats, which has led to the belief that they are actually related to bobcats. Despite their bobcat-like appearance, however, genetic testing has shown that Pixiebobs are purely domestic cats. The breed was developed in the mid-1980s and is characterized by its short tail, spotted coat, and robust build. Any resemblance to bobcats is purely due to selective breeding and not a result of being related to bobcats.
Chiu, E., Fox, K., Wolfe, L., & Vandewoude, S. (2020). A novel test for determination of wild felid-domestic cat hybridization. Forensic Science International: Genetics, 44, 102160. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fsigen.2019.102160
Gañán, N., González, R., Sestelo, A., Garde, J. J., Sánchez, I., Aguilar, J. M., Gomendio, M., & Roldan, E. R. S. (2009). Male reproductive traits, semen cryopreservation, and heterologous in vitro fertilization in the bobcat (Lynx rufus). Theriogenology, 72(3), 341–352. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.theriogenology.2009.03.002
Warren, L. (2019, October 1). Crossing Lines. National Wildlife Federation. https://www.nwf.org/Magazines/National-Wildlife/2019/Oct-Nov/Animals/Wildlife-Hybrids