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Are There Wild Cats In Rhode Island? Facts & FAQ

Luxifa Le

By Luxifa Le

Bobcat hunting in Arizona

A stray cat here and there is a common sight in most of the United States, and Rhode Island is no different. Unfortunately, feral domestic cats are one of the most destructive invasive species globally. Rhode Island is just one of many places combating an increasingly problematic population of feral domestic cats. Regarding wild cats, Rhode Island does have a native wildcat, the bobcat or Lynx rufus. Keep reading to learn more about feral cat colonies and wild cat populations in Rhode Island.

Feral Cats: Does Rhode Island Have a Feral Cat Problem?

At this point, it’s not a question of what places have a feral cat problem; it’s more a question of how bad the feral cat problem in any given place is. Currently, the feral cat problem in Rhode Island is being tackled by PawsWatch and Alley Cat Allies, organizations aiming to improve the lives of unowned and feral cats.

The damage to the Rhode Island ecosystem remains a looming threat with the cats’ presence. So, these organizations aim to trap-fix-release the populations to cut the population down to a less threatening presence naturally. They also provide for the unowned cats to ensure that they live safe and healthful lives.

a feral cat lying under a car
Image Credit: dimitrisvetsikas1969, Pixabay

Does Rhode Island Have Wild Cats?

Rhode Island does have a native wildcat, the bobcat or Lynx rufus. The bobcat is known for its signature bobbed tail and long face fur. Despite being native to Rhode Island, the bobcat has never been considered widespread or common in the state. However, recent data shows that the population of bobcats in Rhode Island is on an upward trend.

What Should I Do If I See a Bobcat in Rhode Island?

Bobcat sightings in Rhode Island are considered worth reporting as bobcats are generally solitary animals that steer clear of human settlements. While bobcats can sometimes be attracted to rodents, the hustle and bustle of developed areas tend to spook them. As a result, it’s doubtful that you’ll encounter a bobcat, especially if you stay in developed regions.

Additionally, bobcats pose very little threat to you so long as you respect them by keeping your distance. They’re rather shy animals and would prefer that you go your separate ways without any kerfuffle. Bobcats very rarely attack humans when healthy and not provoked. Bobcats defending dens of young are more likely to attack than those.

If you see a bobcat in a developed area, report it to Animal Control. Bobcats are rare in the wilderness and rarer in developed areas. If you encounter a bobcat while enjoying outdoor activities remember the following tips!

bobcat stalking prey in Colorado
Image By: Jimmydaly, Shutterstock

1. Don’t Run Away

Running away might trigger the bobcat’s prey drive and cause them to chase you when they otherwise would have left you alone.


2. Don’t Turn Your Back to the Bobcat

Keep facing the bobcat and back away slowly and deliberately. Putting more distance between you and the bobcat will encourage it to move on with its day.


3. Make Noise or Use Water

If you have water, throw or spray it at the bobcat. Otherwise, make a lot of noise. Shout, talk to your friends, sing a touching rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody, and make your presence big and loud. The bobcat will quickly lose interest.

Final Thoughts

While it can be hard to think of the cats we keep in our homes as a virulent invasive species, that’s what they are when they’re released into an environment that they’re unfamiliar with. Luckily, Rhode Island doesn’t seem to have a terrible problem with feral cats or wild cats, which call this state home.


Featured Image Credit: G. Parekh, Shutterstock

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