When we think of wild cats, we often think of mountainous regions with running streams, dense forests, and snowy mountain tops. These are obvious places for wild cats to thrive because of all the wild food available. But wild cats exist in all kinds of regions across the country, including the wide-open Great Plains in Kansas.

Kansas only has three types of wild cats, not including the infamous mascot for Kansas State University. Nevertheless, these cats have made the breadbasket state their home.

In this post, we’re discussing interesting facts about these three wild cat species. Numbers one and two may seem obvious, but number three is a game-changer for Kansas.

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The 3 Types of Wild Cats in Kansas

1. Bobcat

Image Credit: patrice-schoefolt, Pexels
Scientific Name:Lynx rufus
Size:12–25 pounds
Color:Spotted coats with black bands
Environmental Status:Least concern
Lifespan:7 years

America knows the bobcat well. This wild cat can be found all over North America, in mountains, deserts, and even the Great Plains. Even if you’ve never seen a bobcat in real life, you’ll know how to identify one right away. Its most notable features are the stubby tail, tall ears, and tufted fur on the tips of the ears.

Although bobcats (Lynx rufus) are part of the same family that large lions, tigers, and house cats belong to, this wild cat is quite small. Its heaviest weight reaches a meager 25 pounds.

However, that doesn’t stop bobcats from reaching speeds up to 30 miles per hour when they run. This is handy since they rely on small prey like rodents, foxes, raccoons, and wild deer. These are tasty meals for Bobcats, but their favorite meal is rabbit.

Bobcats can even jump up to 12 feet in the air to catch flying prey. Given the number of wild birds in Kansas, Bobcats have no problem finding food in the air.

You can find these cats in the country around farmland or on the edge of cities at night. Some bobcats will wander through towns at night, but it’s rare.

Bobcats eat domestic cats occasionally, so keep this in mind if you live in Kansas. Most of the time, Bobcats prefer wild game and rodents for food, but they’re willing to kill their own kind to prevent starvation. Keeping your cats inside, especially at night, will prevent this tragedy.

2. Domestic Cat

Longhair Oriental Domestic Cat
Image Credit: slowmotiongli, Shutterstock
Scientific Name:Felis catus
Size:8–11 pounds
Color:Several colors and patterns
Environmental Status:Least concern
Lifespan:12–18 years

It seems unlikely that a domestic cat (Felis catus) is considered a wild cat. Still, many domestic cats live like any wild animal. They live outside, hunt for food, search for mates, and protect themselves against predators.

Compared to dogs, domestic cats are still very wild. Even house cats are in tune with their wild side, hunting bugs and specs of dirt as if they were wild creatures. Hunting is hotwired into your cat’s DNA, and there are no refunds.

Not much has changed about the domestic cat’s physique or hunting capabilities throughout evolution. And let’s face it, their attitude hasn’t changed much either!

Most house cats eat a commercial pet food diet. But if given a chance, your cat will eat mice, rats, voles, rabbits, and birds. You probably know this if your cat has left you a gift of a dead bird on your doorstep.

Domestic cats come in several colors and coat patterns, depending on the breed. But you don’t need to understand physical features to identify a domestic cat. These cats are also a part of the same family as bobcats, lions, and tigers, although they’re much smaller than their cousins. Even so, domestic cats live longer than most other cats, around 12–18 years.

3. Mountain Lion

Mountain Lion
Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay
Scientific Name:Puma concolor
Size:120–220 pounds (male), 64–140 pounds (female)
Environmental Status:Threatened
Lifespan:8–13 years

Mountain lions are in the same family as bobcats and domestic cats. But unlike the other two, mountain lions go by several names, like puma, cougar, panther, and catamount. These big cats are easily identified by their tan coats.

Of course, you wouldn’t want to be close enough to identify one. These cats are stealthy predators. They hide and wait for the right time to attack their prey. When the time comes, mountain lions go straight for the spine. Most of the time, mountain lions eat deer and rodents, but mountain lion attacks do happen occasionally.

In the past, the likelihood of seeing a mountain lion in Kansas was about the same as spotting Big Foot. Since 1906, mountain lions were never seen. That doesn’t mean they didn’t come around, but the technology wasn’t available to capture the moments like it is today.

But in 2007, a mountain lion was spotted roaming western Kansas. Since then, there have been more mountain lion sightings than ever before. Most likely, it’s because of threatened territory. Male cats are searching for new territory for food and shelter since it’s dwindling in their familiar areas.

It’s still unlikely to see a mountain lion if you visit Kansas. But as a resident, it’s now a real possibility. Who knows which other wildlife will start making their way toward the prairie?

Should You Keep a Bobcat as a Pet in Kansas?

Maybe you’re itching to become the next Joe Exotic. After all, how cool would it be to show off your new pet bobcat to friends?

Keeping a bobcat as a pet is actually common in Kansas because they’re so vast throughout the state. Some people don’t realize their cat is a bobcat until later on when they notice how wild the cat actually is.

It sounds like a fun time. But the reality is that these cats are still wild, and they belong in the wild as much as possible. Bobcats serve their part in the Kansas ecosystem to keep it balanced. On top of that, you could risk putting yourself in danger with a wild animal.

So, unless you’re trained to handle wild animals, it’s best to keep them wild.

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As you can see, Kansas doesn’t have many wild cat species like some other states. But the ones it does have are vast. It’s nice to know that all of America can enjoy the beauty of a wild cat.

As far as mountain lions go, it’s uncertain what their future looks like in Kansas. Their survival requires more land than a black bear, and most of Kansas is privately owned land. We’ll have to wait and see. We hope that, whatever the future holds, it’s a future where mountain lions don’t have to fight for land and food—a future where humans and animals can coexist peacefully.

Featured Image Credit: 3031830, Pixabay