Bobcat Mating

bobcat face

If you are in the woods around sunset in the spring, and are very patient and incredibly lucky, or somehow happen to be covered in male bobcat pheromones, you could hear the yowling cries of a female bobcat in heat.  Bobcats are like most members of the cat family and can breed at any time of year, but in most parts of the country breeding happens only in the early spring because of cold winter weather and seasonal lack of prey.  Gestation (development of the young in utero) is remarkably short, lasting only a couple of months, and because of this short gestation time kittens are born blind and tiny.  The helpless kittens will have a remarkable pace of growth and development during their first month, and will be following their mother outside of the den by 5-6 weeks.

Bobcats are polygynous and males strive to mate with as many females as they can.  Male bobcats will constantly circle their large territory searching for signs of a female bobcat in heat.  Once the male finds scent markings from a receptive female he tracks her down and begins courtship.  If a female is ready to breed she will signal her willingness by arching her back, making loud yowling vocalizations, and circling around the male.  The two bobcats will engage in play behavior that involves chasing and pouncing on each other.  Actual mating is a short event, but may take place up to 16 times a day for one to several days!  As soon as mating is complete the male moves on to seek other females and has nothing to do with the raising of the kittens.

Bobcat_wPrey

Sources

Elbroch, Mark and Kurt Rinehart. Behavior of North American Mammals.  New York: Houghton Mifflin,  2011. 374 pgs.

Lariviere, S. and L. R. Walton. 1997, Lynx rufus. Mammalian Species 563:1-8.

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