Before I delve into the world of the bobcat, I wanted to say that with coronavirus and lock downs and self isolation, it is a strange time. If you would like me to look at an animal that has come into your life recently, please drop me and email and I will see what I can do. Sometimes we need to hear the teachings of our fellow creatures and right now feels especially like one of those times.
But back to the bobcat…
“Vision is fluid and the eyes tend to lie. This means that what some see as restrictive and abusive, others see as liberating and freeing. It really does depend on whose eyes you are looking through”
– Animal totem tarot
In the Animal Totem Tarot deck, the bobcat features on the devil card which also ties into the idea of perspective. Depending on how you see things, the devil can be shackling, or liberating and further, it can represent someone who is unshackled and yet is chained because they think they are.
They are obviously feline creatures, and they have – as you’d expect – a short bobbed tail. This has a white end with a black tip and is held up in the dark so that kits can follow mum. They also have tufts of hair on their ears that are used like whiskers, and ruffs of fur on the side of the face akin to sideburns!
Bobcats are found in south eastern USA and whilst they are rural creatures, they are becoming more habituated to urban and suburban landscapes. They tend to be found in areas with cover for them to slip through, such as forests and brushland, and will sleep in hidden dens, often made in hollow trees, thickets and rocky crevices.
Some people see them as invading the urban landscape, but in reality, we invaded their homeland – there are multiple versions of truth, again we still the theme of perspective. Sticking with this, bobcats are nocturnal which brings in ideas about night and the moon and they in turn give us mystery and things not being very clear. The darkness can trick you, making you think you see things that aren’t there and hiding the things that are. The moon in tarot is all about the subconscious, illusions and dreams. There is distortion and magic and mystery.
However, as bobcats have excellent hearing and vision, we could read this as a creature who can help us see into and navigate through the confusion of the darkness and the night. Perhaps the bobcat is here to be a guide for you.
Bobcats are solitary cats, that only really interact for mating. They want to be left to do their own thing and to enjoy their own company and are here to remind you that sometimes, you need this time and space too. When it comes to reproducing, males and females come together for a brief time, just long enough for courtship and copulation. The female will then be left alone to raise the young. It takes almost a year to get them to the point where they can go off on their own, and a key part of being able to leave the nest is about being able to hunt successfully.
Bobcats are well camouflaged and this helps them to slip through the environment unseen, further they are quiet, near silent as they stealthily hunt out prey. One way they reduce noise is by putting their back feet in the footprints of the front paws, apparently all cats do this, cat owners let me know! They are known to perch in rocky alcoves waiting for the right moment to pounce and have been described as spring loaded predators. This puts me in mind of seizing the opportunity. Related to this, they are what are called opportunists when it comes to diet. But as well as jumping on opportunities, they are patient, waiting for the right opportunity, not just grabbing at whatever comes to hand. Be selective, be patient and then go for it.
When I was researching the bobcat, the idea of secrets came up repeatedly with the view that they are inscrutable and cannot be coerced into revealing their secrets. They are sometimes considered to be keepers of occult knowledge and guardians of secrets. Perhaps because of the solitary lifestyle, people feel that they can share this information with the bobcat and it will not be shared with anyone else.
Their night vision means they are said to be able to see into the future, to have profound insight and are able to look within people to their souls. This may be a time when you can see what others are trying to keep hidden from you. Trust your gut right now if secrets are involved. Also remember that with the night comes our subconscious and sometimes we are hiding secrets from ourselves. If that might be the case right now, it might be time to try and uncover them, you are allowed to know these secrets and sometimes, not always, it can be helpful to tap into our inner world.
Naturally, a lot of folklore around the bobcat comes from Native Americans.
“The Lakota held cats in fear and awe. They believed that to kill or mutilate any kind of cat – mountain lion, bobcat or even the plain old domestic tabby – carried a curse. The culprit would have terrible things happen to him. Therefore, they avoided cats.”
– Jessica Dawn Palmer
In some mythology, the bobcat is twinned with the coyote to represent duality. Another tale explains how the bobcat got its spots. After getting trapped in a tree rabbit persuades bobcat to build a fire but the embers end up scattered on the bobcat’s fur and the spots it wears today are the singe marks. Another story explains the bobbed tail.
Their excellent hunting skills are admired by some groups but for others, the bobcat plays a negative role, being cast as greedy, selfish and disregarding social rules.
Ultimately, it feels as though the bobcat is here to help us see into the darkness and the night, and to remind us that there are many perspectives and truths and to look at things from all angles.
Animal Diversity Web
IUCN Red List
Animal Wisdom by Jessica Dawn Palmer