Crossing Paths: Bobcat!

This morning I crossed paths with a bobcat. I was walking down in the big arroyo near Crazy Ridge, where the sand is damp. It hasn’t rained in weeks and only the shadiest spots in the deepest arroyos hold a last trace of water. Just enough to cast a good footprint:

No nail marks (click to enlarge). Dog and coyote prints show nail marks in front of each toe, whereas cats and bobcats have retractable claws.

Dog/ coyote prints (bottom) and raccoon prints (top) both showing nail marks. 

Outside cats don’t live long here in coyote country and I found these several miles from anybody’s property. At least three neighbors have reported seeing bobcats from time to time, usually around dusk. So, I’m voting bobcat.

This wouldn’t be my first:

Look closely…

Yosemite Bobcat!

I crossed paths with this guy on the Yosemite Falls trail in January. After a cold night camping in the snow, we got up early for a hike and were the first on the trail. When I stopped to take off a layer, I saw a tuft of fur not twenty feet off the path. A bobcat! He was taking a nap. I took a couple of quick shots and at the snap of the lens, he opened his blue grey eyes and looked right at me. Then he went back to sleep.

Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in North America, so high that in winter the water turns to snow on the way down, sifting into a giant pile of powder on the frozen river. By the time we stomped up through knee-deep snow all the way to the thigh-deep summit and slid our way back down again, the cat’s nap was over and he was long gone, a few strands of housecat hair marking his place.

Hopefully I’ll see a desert bobcat out here one of these days. I hear they’re smaller than their mountain relatives. As they say, paths that cross will cross again

Previous posts on other close animal encounters: Wilding Horses & The Grizz

About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently traveling the backroads from New Mexico to Alaska, writing and living out of a tiny Teardrop camper. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at www.marycapertonmorton.com.
This entry was posted in Hiking!, New Mexico, Photography, Road tripping!. Bookmark the permalink.

91 Responses to Crossing Paths: Bobcat!

  1. Great photos and story. That is one pretty (and wild) kitty.

  2. Absolutely beautiful. We’re always hoping to catch one on our trail cams, but haven’t yet.

  3. Nice close-up of the bobcat.

  4. Wow, that is a great shot of the bobcat. And the footprints are beautiful.

  5. midnitechef says:

    That’s one cute Bobcat!

  6. You did an amazing job!

  7. I grew up near Yosemite and got used to finding big cat prints outside my house all the time (hence my blog name). Luckily I never ran into one. Great pictures!

  8. What a beautiful animal! And wonderful photography!!

  9. He (she? it?) is stunning. Interesting about the nail in the footprints — I had no idea…

  10. Amber says:

    Yay body-pillow-sized kitties! >^_^<

  11. nancynishihira says:

    Great picture of the bobcat! Such beautiful eyes :)

  12. abichica says:

    awesome post and beautiful pictures.. :-D

  13. rsmithing says:

    What fantastic images! As a cat owner, it’s especially intriguing to see the wilder (and much, much bigger) cousins of our domesticated friends.

  14. cassiecares says:

    My parents used to threaten us with bobcats. “If you don’t come inside, the bobcats will come out!”

    It’s hard to believe we were so afraid. They’re the most adorable predators ever. Nice find!

  15. fishingblues says:

    Wow, great shot! You are lucky, we have bobcats here in Western Washington, but I have never seen one in the wild. I did see a Lynx in Canada once and it was very memorable! Something about their eyes is so haunting.

  16. bandsmoke says:

    Fabulous photos- I love the paw prints, very dramatic!

  17. Great picture.. this shot is NatGeo material. :) Awesome post.

    Darlene

  18. merry203 says:

    Lovely!
    And what a beautiful animal! =)

  19. So neat to see wildlife in their natural habitat and cool when you can snap a photo:) Congrats on being FP!

    • Hey thanks everybody! I’m on the road today, driving across the great state of Arizona, and I just turned on my phone to find a bazillion Bobcat emails! Glad you’re all enjoying my supremely lucky moment with that incredible cat! Follow the Blonde Coyote for lots more! :)

  20. Dounia says:

    Wow, that’s a beautiful picture of a gorgeous bobcat. I love the shots of the footprints too. Congrats on freshly pressed and thanks for sharing your great pictures!

  21. Beautiful photos–especially the close-up of the bobcat, but I love the detail of the prints.

  22. Dianda says:

    Bobcats are so pretty!

  23. Wow ! thats a great picture of the cat. Glad I found your blog on google.

  24. Luna Kadampa says:

    Wow, beautiful picture, sent a tingle down my spine…

  25. lost near says:

    This is so incredibly cute! Thank you. You made me smile at work in TX.

  26. Sabine says:

    I loved reading the story of how you came across the Bobcat. I’ve never seen/heard of one before and it is a very beautiful creature. Stunning photographs, and I love how the Bobcat is somewhat ‘posing’ in it’s relaxed state in the last photo. ^__^

  27. ditchthebun says:

    Love the print shots! And LOVE the Bob! So beautiful, what a fabulous healthy specimen and how lucky you were to see it in it’s natural habitat!

  28. theRealSasha says:

    great post. Bobcats are awesome

  29. Sarah Doyle says:

    What beautiful creatures. I love it that you took pictures of the footprints & show so clearly how to distinguish a bobcat’s from a dog’s or a coyote’s. We have bobcats here in western Massachusetts, sometimes surprisingly close to towns. I’m going to have to start following your site!

    You might be interested in our blog about geology & footprints, particularly the most recent post from today (paleoartist Will Sillin) and from a couple of weeks ago, Ichnofossils in the Making. http://jurassicroadshow.wordpress.com/

  30. Sony Fugaban says:

    The cat is gorgeous!

  31. Amanda says:

    Beautiful! Wild (big) cats are beautiful and fascinating. I bet it was an exhilarating moment!

    Amanda

    http://www.bullfrogsandbulldogs.com/

  32. aparnanairphotography says:

    So sweet!!! Thank you for sharing!

  33. emjayandthem says:

    He’s beautiful.

    – MJ

  34. pnwauthor says:

    I love photographs of animals. Congrats on making the Freshly Pressed.

  35. The shot of the bobcat camouflaged in the brush was wonderful; like a “Where’s Waldo?” nature game.

    I was surprised at how much the bobcat looked like a house pet. Beautiful!

    Ronnie

  36. natasiarose says:

    Isn’t that the cat that got lost in JFK?

  37. Eva McCane says:

    very cool! some bobcats and cougars were recently spotted in iowa…and i’m not talking machinery and hot older women. i guess some hunters have seen some really large and in charge cats. i’d wet my pants.
    http://www.icouldntmakethisshitup.wordpress.com

  38. Nicole Marie says:

    He is GORGEOUS! Glad I stumbled upon your blog; I’ll be following you in your adventures! :-)

  39. minam8 says:

    Beautiful animal, I would give a lot to see such an amazing animal. :)

  40. thekarmamortgage says:

    Beautiful shots and I’m impressed you took pictures. Recently, I may have encountered either a bobcat or mountain lion, just saw glowing eyes, felt stalked, and later heard something jump. If it was a mountain lion, I’d probably be dead, so I’m guessing it was a bobcat. When you’re as close as you were, are you afraid of them?

    • No I wasn’t afraid of the bobcat, but I did once encounter a mountain lion and it was pretty terrifying. My dog Bowie treed a lion right next to my cabin when I was living way out in the woods in Oregon. I’m sure he was stalking us. He was raging, spitting mad and when I called Bowie back inside the cat jumped down and ran back into the woods. After that I stopped leaving my doors open. Wild America!

  41. bearcat8 says:

    Great shot, beautiful animal! Thanks for a great post!

    http://bearcat8.wordpress.com/

  42. Such an amazing photo, cute animal

  43. Wow! What a moment you captured! Was it one of those moments where the bobcat was more afraid of you than you were of it? Were you even the least bit concerned?! He (or she) had an incredible coat, it was just beautiful!

    If it is okay with you, I would like to mention my own blog that I just started and share the link with your readers. It’s called Logic Meets Reason and it would be great if you and your readers could comment, subscribe, and take a look at the pieces I have posted! Here is the link: http://www.logicmeetsreason.wordpress.com.

  44. gaycarboys says:

    It looks like a really big kittycat

  45. minlit says:

    My children plan to catch a ‘wildcat’ when we go on holiday to Slovenia at Christmas. Last year, he eluded their attempts to trap him with a piece of bread tied to some string. (wonder why…) This year, they are already drawing up plans for an altogether more complex trap, including a hole and sardines. Just might work!!

    • Haha that’s great. I once spent a childhood summer rigging a trap to catch a rabbit. The bait, no matter what it was, always disappeared but I never caught anything. Looking back, I’m sure my dad was springing the trap, egging us along.

  46. paul says:

    Very beautiful ! :)

  47. JL says:

    Aww! I have never seen a bobcat in real life before, not even at the zoo because they are always hiding inside their man-penned habitats. It must be nice to see them in their natural home. =)

  48. Anita Mac says:

    Wow – very cool. I am a huge fan of cats – the cute cuddly ones in my house to the big wild cats. Have never seen one in the wild – very cool!

  49. We have lots of bobcats in Finland, but I don’t really like ‘em. They are beautiful, but then we can’t let our cats go outside for the night :(

  50. Gods Warrior says:

    That’s so epic!!! Bobcats are my fav. animal!

  51. bigshow says:

    very nice and beatifull cat..

  52. Great pics! Those are some big foot prints!

  53. tikaistuff says:

    Aweeee, so cute! Could be my pet…..NOT!

  54. osozereposo says:

    What a neat cat! So amazing that you could just stumble on him and actually get a few pictures and he didn’t just run off right away. That’s always my problem with the animals I see on my hikes. They run off before I get a single shot.

  55. Wow, great photos. I was intrigued by how much this cat looks like a lynx rather than a bobcat. Lynx aren’t known to inhabit Yosemite, but this cat shows a largely grayish and unspotted fur, as well as pretty well developed ear tufts. Apparently, the variability in both species makes identification of some individuals difficult, and the best way to tell them apart is by looking at the tail tip: fully black in lynx and black only on top in bobcat. As luck would have it, your photo doesn’t show the tip of the tail.

    I’m thinking that this is indeed a bobcat, but just one that looks really lynxy!

    • Hi Tim! Yes, when I saw the cat, I wondered if it might have been a lynx because it seemed like quite a large bobcat. I asked a Yosemite park ranger and showed him the photos and he assured me it was definitely a bobcat. Seeing a lynx would be incredible! Someday, I hope!

  56. Travelista says:

    Beautiful shot!!! We got up close with some lions when we were on safari in Africa last year. It’s funny how those predator cats look so cute but you know that they’d totally rip you up if you got too close :D

  57. Cute! Congrats for being on FP!

  58. Alli says:

    Bobcats are gorgeous creatures. I’ve only seen one in the wild once! Great shots!

  59. nazarioartpainting says:

    Que lindo gatito! Me encanta. (Pretty cat I love it!)

  60. cannoncam says:

    These are great. What lens did you use for the close up. I have a 55-250 mm and I love taking close ups from far away.

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  62. ellimacha says:

    so close bobcat shot, good job.

  63. RAPHAEL KSOBIECH says:

    Interesting….great pics.

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  65. muneeb34 says:

    Great Blog i come again to your blog …..:)
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  66. Purple Rose says:

    Yosemite Bobcat is very cute!!!!!
    Interesting blog, i’ll come back to read you and to see your photos.
    Bye bye and good afternoon.

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