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  • Bobcats, Lynx rufus, are a smaller cousin of the lynx but more assertive, less retiring, and more adaptable. In fact they are downright cocky. They do not let their size affect their sense of self.

    Swatworth, a bobcat and aptly named, was raised with a baby lynx. They were inseparable, playing, licking, purring, snuggling. They were housed in one large pen with a wooden box which they shared.

    But as they matured, Pinkerton the lynx stopped coming out of his box. He crouched by the door looking out, pathetic and thoroughly terrorized. Swatworth, by far the smaller cat, would strut past the opening of the box and fiercely swipe at the air as he passed; pause, turn, strut back and swipe again, clearly communicated to the cowed lynx that he was in charge of all the space.

    He did not physically hurt or even touch Pinkerton – he dominated him mentally. Pinkerton never attempted to fight back. And never came out. The only solution was to give them separate pens.

    You do not find the two species together in the wild. The bobcat has driven the lynx to snowier; more inaccessible regions, where it has adapted to its environment by developing huge snowshoe paws.

    When both cats are placed together in snow (where Pinkerton could get away if he needed to), the poor lynx runs eagerly to Swatworth, apparently with fond memories of their childhood in mind. But Swatworth wants nothing to do with him. It’s very sad.

    In the deep now Pinkerton has the advantage and runs in circles around the floundering bobcat, inviting him to play, but Swatworth is not amused.

    Pound for pound it has been said they are the toughest cats in existence in strength and fierceness. Their ego knows no bounds. When Swatworth was first put in a pen next to the cougar, Shoshone, there was a flash of fur as he leapt onto the side of the cage with earsplitting yowls, hair on end, demanding submission. He was going to whup the cat before he knew what hit him.

    The mountain lion looked at him taken aback, not knowing what to make of this screaming apparition one-fifth his size. Swatworth had to be peeled off the cage in true Garfield fashion. He is the only small animals on the ranch that Shoshone fears as a challenger for food.

    Yet Swatworth is intensely affectionate and sweet with people he knows, calling us with a soft woo-woo-woo and butting foreheads gently in greeting, rubbing against us like a house cat. And he was raised with a dog that could do no wrong in his estimation, that he adored, that he allowed to lick him clean from head to toe. He would lie on his back, legs splayed, eyes closed in utter bliss as Rodney groomed him, 30 pounds of bobcat tamed. He is a passionate animal in his hates and loves, and assertion of his self perceived rights.

    This gentleness goes by the wayside when there is food around however. Someone wrote asking for advice on handling a bobcat they were rehabilitating, saying they had a wonderful relationship with it except at feeding time, when it suddenly turned from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. The only possible response: “Well…sounds like you have a bobcat.”

    There is no moderating that fierce drive for survival that makes them a true wildcat. With experience, and a lot of time, you can work with them. You cannot domesticate them.
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