North America is home to this member of the small cat family, called a bobcat.  It gets its name from the short, twitchy tail it sports.

"Walter" (at right) and "Thunder" (below) are both former pets.  Walter was captured by Animal Control in a park in South Bend, Indiana, after he slipped out of the door of his owners' home.  His owners didn't seek to find him because it is illegal to keep such animals where they live, as it is in most cities.  The couple also lacked the proper state-issued permit to possess a wild animal.

Thunder was surrendered by his owner when the financial burdens of keeping him posed too difficult.  

Unfortunately many people think these attractive small cats might make a neat pet, but they don't.  These carnivores can live into their late teens in captivity and grow to weigh up to 50 pounds. In nature, they are solitary and nocturnal, preying on rabbits and other small mammals, snakes, and birds. Bobcats are often aggressive, especially at feeding time, and they spray urine to mark their territory.  Bobcats, both male and female, will spray "everything", including people.  Despite the misleading information many breeders will share, spaying or neutering a bobcat will have no affect on their ability or desire to "spray".  They are wild, territorial carnivores.

Though very elusive, you may encounter a bobcat or find traces of one in nearly every state in the United  States, throughout Canada, and in parts of Mexico. It is now illegal in some  states to trap these animals, prized by hunters for their thick spotted winter fur.

 Thunder, bobcat

Photo of Walter courtesy of Clay Myers.