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Are There Wild Cats in Kansas? What to Know!

Cassidy Sutton

By Cassidy Sutton

bobcat in zoo

Whether you’ve traveled to Kansas or live there, you can’t help but wonder if any wild cats are roaming the Great Plains. After all, Kansas is right smack in the middle of the United States. Shouldn’t there be animals other than cows?

Sadly, no cougars, tigers, or cheetahs roam the Sunflower State. But you’ll be happy to know that other stunning wild cats are roaming freely. Let’s take a look, shall we?

What Kind of Wild Cats Live in Kansas?

Bobcat

bobcat stalking prey in Colorado
Image Credit: Jimmydaly, Shutterstock

The bobcat (Lynx rufus) is a small, robust wildcat found all over North America, including the Midwest.

Bobcats are a part of the Felidae family, the same family that lions, tigers, and domestic cats belong to. They have spotted coats with black bands on their legs and faces. The ears are pointed and have little tufts on the tips.

You can find these cats in the middle of nowhere and on the edge of urban settlements. A park in Wichita even keeps a bobcat in an enclosure for passing visitors to admire. However, most people don’t see wild bobcats during the day since they prefer to hunt at night.

Many don’t realize that bobcats are skilled swimmers, although this skill won’t help them much in a landlocked state. Instead, they rely on smaller prey like rabbits and birds.

Compared to other wild cats, bobcats are actually quite small. They only weigh about 1225 pounds. Even so, bobcats are twice the size of a domestic cat and can run up to 30 miles per hour.

Domestic Cat

two cats fighting outside
Image Credit: rihaij, Pixabay

We know what you’re thinking. How is a domestic cat considered a wild cat?

Well, some domestic cats have never experienced human interaction and are, therefore, considered wild. You can also call them feral cats.

Feral cats are wild cats because they live outside. They hunt for food, live outdoors, mate with other cats, and risk running into predators.

It’s important to note that stray cats are different from feral cats. Unlike feral cats, stray cats are well socialized. They’re used to human touch, behavior, and even our smell.

Thankfully, feral cats can be socialized with other cats, and with patience, a feral cat can be socialized with humans. The TNR (trap-neuter-release) method helps keep the feral cat population low since they’re an invasive species.

Are There Mountain Lions in Kansas?

Mountain Lions are rare in Kansas. From 1906 to 2007, not a single mountain lion was spotted roaming the Great Plains. However, you’ll be surprised to learn that Kansas is starting to see more of these big cats.

In June 2021, a mountain lion was spotted on video in a Wichita alley one early morning.

But why is Kansas seeing more of these big cats?

The most likely answer is the overpopulation of habitats. Male cats are forced to find new territory for food and shelter, and they often find their way into states that generally wouldn’t host this species. Other possibilities include roadside zoos and illegal breeding operations.

Although it’s unlikely to see a mountain lion while you’re visiting, you might see one in your lifetime if you’re a Kansas resident.

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it. Kansas does, in fact, have wild cats. Even though you can’t always see them, they’re there, waiting for the sunset to begin the hunt.

Big cats aren’t what brings people to Kansas unless you’re a hunter. Truthfully, you probably won’t see a mountain lion or bobcat as a tourist or even a resident, but it is cool knowing that every state, even in the Midwest, can enjoy the presence of a wild cat.


Featured Image Credit: bmarxdueren, Pixabay

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