West Virginia, also called the Mountain State, is a beautiful state full of majestic mountains, rolling hills, and an abundance of deep, dense forestland. Many wild animals are thriving in West Virginia, including one wild cat.

The stealthy and sleek bobcat can be found all across the state. That is if you’re lucky enough to spot one! After all, this secretive wild feline blends in perfectly with the movements, light, and shadows of forested land.

While the bobcat is the only wild cat calling West Virginia home, many tales have been and are circulating in the state concerning sightings of other wild cats that aren’t supposed to live there.

We’ve put together some interesting information about bobcats we hope you find interesting.  We’ve also included some tips for staying safe when encountering one of these cats as well as some info about West Virginia’s “cat tales”.

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The Only Type of Wild Cat in West Virginia

The Bobcat

Image Credit: patrice-schoefolt, Pexels
Scientific Name:Lynx rufus
Weight:15–20 pounds

The bobcat is considered a small wildcat that’s about twice as big as a pet cat. It’s highly recognizable with its bobbed tail, tufted ears, light gray or brownish short fur, and long facial hair that’s streaked with black.

There are bobcats living all across West Virginia. These reclusive cats are most active late at night and in the very early morning hours, making them seldom seen by humans, although it does happen.

While a bobcat may look cute and cuddly, it’s a fierce predator that can take down a much larger animal like a young deer. It’s also a fast runner that can max out at over 25 miles per hour, so don’t think for a second you could outrun one!

When it’s finished hunting in the early morning hours, a bobcat will retreat to its den, which is usually in a hollow tree, heavy brush, or cave. This is a solitary and highly territorial wild cat that marks its domain with its scent to keep other bobcats at bay.

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What to Do if You Encounter a Bobcat in the Wild

Two Bobcats
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If you encounter a bobcat in West Virginia somewhere, don’t panic. Remaining calm and staying focused is the right thing to do. You should look the animal in the eye and make yourself appear larger by waving your arms or pulling your jacket up over your head, all while making plenty of noise by yelling loudly or even singing.

Your goal should be to get that bobcat to back off and leave you be. If you see any young bobcat in the proximity, you’re likely encountering their mom, so play it cool because she’s only trying to protect her babies from you, who she perceives as a threat.

As you slowly step backward, focus on making some distance between you and the wild cat. You should never be tempted to turn around and run because bobcats are fast, even though they rarely attack.

West Virginia Is Home to Some Big Cat Tales

While it’s a fact that the bobcat is the only wild cat living in The Mountain State, there are plenty of rumors circulating about other wild cat sightings in West Virginia. Some people have sworn they’ve seen mountain lions, Canada lynx, and even black panthers roaming the state.

Wild cat sightings are common all over the United States with many people often reporting they see non-native wild cats in their states, even though the cats don’t belong there. Maybe we can chalk up these cat sightings as nothing more than humans being humans. After all, people are fascinated by large predatory animals, and for some folks, just being able to say they spotted one in the wild is something very special.

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While West Virginia is home to a great many wild animals of all sizes and types, there is only one wild cat living in the Mountain State, and that’s the bobcat.

The bobcat is a highly elusive cat that never wants to experience a close encounter with a human. If you do come face to face with a bobcat in the wild, stay calm, wave your arms around, and make some noise to get that cat to back off.

If you think you’ve spotted another type of wild cat in West Virginia, the chances are it was just a bobcat, as no other wild cats live in the state.

Featured Image Credit: Alex Burr, Pexels