Wild cats are fascinating creatures that capture our hearts with their distinctively cat-like behaviors and graceful elegance. But wild cats can be highly elusive, so very few people see them in the wild in their lifetime. If you live in Alabama, you may have wondered if there are wild cats in your state that you may catch a glimpse of in your life.
Let’s talk about the beautiful wild cats of Alabama. Bobcats and cougars are the only wild cats you can find in Alabama.
The Most Popular Wild Cats in Alabama
Bobcats are small wild cats that account for the only confirmed wild cat populations in Alabama. They have short, almost bobbed tails and only weigh around 15–35 pounds. They are shy cats that are not commonly seen in the open but are often spotted on trail cams and by the occasional hunter or hiker.
They have spotted fur and are excellent hunters, often hunting things like squirrels, rats, and rabbits. In some instances, they may also eat small domestic pets like cats and chickens. Generally, though, bobcats will only come near homes when they are desperate due to their fear of humans.
Cougars go by many names, including mountain lions, pumas, panthers, catamounts, painters, and mountain screamers. Generally, it is believed that there are no breeding populations of these big cats east of the Mississippi River, which would include the state of Alabama.
They do have large ranges, though, and are known to have a small breeding population in Florida. Sightings of cougars are not common, but many people catch glimpses of what they believe to be cougars on everything from trail cams to cell phones.
It’s extremely common for other animals to be mistaken for cougars, including housecats, bobcats, coyotes, and black bears, all of which live in Alabama. Oftentimes, people will spot a cat with no size comparison nearby, leading them to believe the cat is much larger than it is. If you believe you’ve seen or heard a cougar, which has a call similar to a screaming woman, then you should contact the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Not much larger than a housecat, jaguarundis are one of the smallest species of wild cat, weighing in at around 15 pounds. These cats live almost exclusively in Central and South America. There have been reports of jaguarundi sightings in Texas, although the last confirmed jaguarundi sighting in Texas was in 1986. They are believed to potentially have small populations in Texas, Arizona, and Florida.
The population in Florida is believed to be a feral population of escaped or released pets. There have been additional unconfirmed reports of jaguarundi sightings in other states, including Alabama, although it is extremely unlikely for these wild cats to have a natural population in Alabama.
While Alabama does have wild cats, they are few and far between. The bobcat is the only fully confirmed wild cat in the state, while the cougar is believed to have no current breeding population. Some cougars may be spotted passing through the state, although it would be a rare occurrence.
If you believe you’ve seen a cat that you strongly feel wasn’t a domestic cat or a bobcat, then you should contact Alabama state officials to notify them of what you saw, and where you saw it and to provide them with any evidence of the sighting. Never attempt to approach a wild cat of any kind, especially if you are unsure what the cat is.