There is no doubt that Connecticut is a beautiful state. From the rolling hills of Litchfield County to the bustling streets of Hartford, there is something for everyone in Connecticut. But did you know that there are also wild cats living in this great state? While they may not be as plentiful as their cousins in Africa or Asia, there are definitely wild cats lurking in the woods and fields of Connecticut. Continue reading to find out what they are.
The 3 Types of Wild Cats in Connecticut
So, what types of wild cats can you find in Connecticut? There are actually three types of wild cats in the area.
The most common type of wild cat in the state is the bobcat. Bobcats are typically brown or tan with dark spots and stripes. They have pointy ears and short tails. Bobcats are relatively small, only weighing about 20 pounds on average. You can find bobcats in most of Connecticut, with the exception of the coast.
The second type of wild cat that calls Connecticut home is the lynx. Lynxes are larger than bobcats, weighing up to 40 pounds on average. They have tufted ears and short tails. Lynxes are also typically brown or tan, but their spots and stripes are much lighter than those of bobcats. You can find lynx in the northern and western parts of Connecticut.
The last type of wild cat that can be found in Connecticut is the cougar. Cougars are the largest of the three, weighing up to 200 pounds on average. They have long tails and small heads. Cougars are typically brown or tan but can also be black. You can find cougars in the western and southern parts of Connecticut.
Habitat of Wild Cats in Connecticut
Now that you know what types of wild cats live in Connecticut, where can you find them? The best place to look for wild cats is in wooded areas. Bobcats and lynx prefer forests with dense underbrush, while cougars like to stay in more open areas. You can also find wild cats near rivers and streams, as they are attracted to the water.
Population Numbers of Wild Cats in Connecticut
The population of wild cats in Connecticut is estimated to be around 100. This includes all three types of wild cats: bobcats, lynx, and cougars. The majority of the population is made up of bobcats, with an estimated 75-100 individuals. Lynx is the second most common, with an estimated 15-20 individuals. Cougars are the least common, with an estimated 0-15 individuals. The population of wild cats in Connecticut has remained relatively stable over the past few years. However, there has been a slight decrease in the number of lynx due to hunting and habitat loss.
One of the biggest threats to wild cats in Connecticut is habitat loss. As more and more land is developed for homes and businesses, there is less and less space for wild cats to live. This has led to a decrease in the population of lynx, as they are forced to compete with other animals for food and shelter.
Another threat to wild cats in Connecticut is hunting. While it is illegal to hunt bobcats and lynx, cougars are still fair game. Cougars are hunted for their fur, which is used to make clothing and other items. This has led to a decrease in the population of cougars in Connecticut.
Preventing Habitat Loss
There are several things that you can do to help prevent the decline of wild cats in Connecticut. One thing you can do is to support organizations that are working to protect and preserve habitats for wild cats.
You can also help by donating to or volunteering for these organizations. Another thing you can do is to avoid buying products made from cougar fur. This will help decrease the demand for cougar fur, which will in turn reduce the number of cougars being killed for their fur. Finally, you can spread the word about the importance of preserving habitat for wild cats.
What to Do if You See One
If you do see a wild cat in Connecticut, don’t panic! Cats have very developed senses, so it’s likely that if you’re aware of the cat, it’s been aware of you for much longer and hasn’t attacked. Wild cats typically don’t fight with humans unless they feel threatened or trapped. The chances of getting hurt by a wild cat in a neighborhood or public park are very slim.
In An Encounter
Just remember to give them space and don’t try to approach them, especially if they have kittens. If they approach you, make yourself as big as possible by waving your arms or jacket over your head. Make loud noises by clapping your hands, banging pots together or using an air horn. This will potentially scare them off.
In An Attack
Fight back with rocks or sticks if you must, don’t play dead. Aim for the cat’s face and eyes. Then once you can get to your feet, begin backing away from the area slowly until the animal is out of sight.
Do not turn your back and run away from a wild cat. Running away can trigger the cat’s natural instinct to chase prey.
After The Attack or Encounter
Get to safety and call the rangers, police, or Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Wildlife Division at (860) 424-3010 to report the encounter.
When Are You Most Likely to See One?
If you’re hoping to get a glimpse (from a safe distance) of a wild cat, there are certain times when it’s more likely.
Time of Day
The best time to see a wild cat is at dawn or dusk.
Time of Year
The best time of year to see a wild cat is in the spring or summer. This is when they are most active, and when they are delivering and raising their young.
Where to Look
The best place to look for a wild cat is in wooded areas, near rivers or streams. Cougar populations tend to be higher near the western border with New York State while bobcat and lynx populations are more common in the northern and central parts of the state.
Tips for Safe Viewing
If you do decide to go looking for a wild cat, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
- First, never approach a wild cat. Give them space and observe from a distance.
- Second, make sure you’re aware of your surroundings and stay on well-traveled trails. You don’t want to accidentally startle a wild cat.
- Third, view with binoculars or a zoom lens from a safe distance to keep yourself safe.
- Finally, if you do see a wild cat, enjoy the experience and take plenty of pictures! But remember to respect their space and never try to approach them.
With a little patience and luck, you might just get to see one of these amazing animals in the wild! Just remember to stay safe and give them space. Never try to approach, especially not to pet or feed them.
What Do Wild Cats Eat in Connecticut?
Wild cats in Connecticut typically eat small mammals such as rodents, rabbits, and squirrels. They may also eat birds, reptiles, and fish. In some cases, they may even kill and eat larger animals such as deer.
Protecting Pets and Livestock
If you are worried about wild cats attacking livestock or pets, there are a few things you can do to prevent this.
- First, make sure that all of your animals are up to date on their vaccinations.
- Second, keep your animals inside at night.
- And finally, if you have any small holes or gaps in your fence, be sure to seal them up.
How to Tell if a Cat is Wild or Domestic
There are a few ways you can tell if a cat is wild or domestic. First, take a look at the size of the cat. Domestic cats are typically much smaller than wild cats. Second, look at the color of the fur. Wild cats usually have more distinct colors and patterns than domestic cats.
If You Find an Injured Wild Cat
If you find an injured wild cat, the best thing to do is to call the police or DEEP Wildlife Division at (860) 424-3010. Do not attempt to approach or capture the animal yourself, as it could be dangerous.
While wild cats may not be as common in Connecticut as they are in other parts of the world, they are definitely out there! So, keep your eyes peeled and you just might spot one on your next hike through the woods. Who knows, you might even see a cougar! If you do encounter a wild cat, never attempt to approach it. And remember, if you have any small holes or gaps in your fence, be sure to seal them up to prevent wild cats from getting into your yard.
Featured Image Credit: Jimmydaly, Shutterstock