Cool Cats

Cool Cats

Predators are an essential part of a proper functioning ecosystem. Cats that live on our Refuge are bobcat, lynx and cougar.


Cougars, also known as puma or mountain lion, are easily recognized by their tawny coats and long tails. Their grace and power is widely admired in the cultures of indigenous peoples. Aside from people, no species prey on mature cougars in the wild. Solitary hunters, cougars will eat any animal it can catch, from insects to moose. It’s most important prey is deer, typically hunting by stalking and ambush, averaging about one kill every two weeks. Dragging the kill to a secure spot, the cat covers it with brush, returning to feed on it for several days. A female may need to kill every three or four days as she feeds and raises her two or three cubs alone. Usually only one cub per litter survives to adulthood, leaving their mother at around 2 years of age. Average life expectancy is 8-10 years.


Bobcats get their name from their short "bobbed" tail. Their coat is generally tan to grayish brown with black streaks on the body and dark bars on the forelegs and tail.

Their ears are pointed with black tufts of hair. Bobcats adjust their hunting techniques based on the size of the prey. Waiting for small victims like rodents and birds to wander close, the cat will pounce, grabbing the prey with its sharp, retractable claws. Larger animals like rabbits and hares are stalked then rushed from a short distance. The female raises a litter of usually two to four kittens alone. Usually born in spring, they begin traveling with mom within a few months, hunting on their own by fall. They typically live 6-8 years.


Canada Lynx are the rarest of the three cat species living on the Refuge. It is listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The “gray ghost of the north” has a passing resemblance to the bobcat, but has longer hind legs and much larger feet.  Those feet are heavily furred, allowing the lynx to maneuver in deep snow where it pursues its main prey, the snow shoe hare. Typically solitary hunters, sometimes females with cubs may hunt together in coordinated attacks, one lynx flushing the prey while others wait to pounce.   An average of four or five kittens is born in May or early June.  They begin hunting with their mother between seven to nine months of age, leaving her at around ten months. They will reach adult size at two years, and rarely live to age ten.