Bobcat sightings have been on the rise in Westport over the past few years, and the presence of these cats has received renewed attention due to high-profile social media posts in recent weeks. It is not surprising that these cats are cropping up in Westport since the cats have been actively recolonizing this part of Fairfield County over the past 10-15 years.
Bobcats are generally unobtrusive neighbors. They are very focused on finding prey, which primarily consists of rodents like mice, rats, chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits. The cats will also prey upon young or infirm deer. Bobcats avoid conflict with humans and pets, but could pose a threat to small, unattended dogs, particularly if the dog were to chase the cat.
Our overall recommendation for pet owners is to provide close supervision of small pets. This directive is primarily to address the potential threat from coyotes. As we know, dogs smaller than 35-40 pounds can be at risk from coyotes, particularly if the dog is older. Bobcats generally retreat from encounters with dogs, but there is potential for a dangerous encounter if the cat is cornered.
Westport Animal Control has been receiving a higher volume of calls regarding coyote and bobcat sightings in the last few weeks. This is a typical seasonal pattern. As we enter late summer, parent coyotes and bobcats are leaving their denning areas. Several citizens have seen bobcat kittens and coyote pups playing in their yards. These juvenile animals pose no threat to humans, and they will gradually become more wary of people as they get older.
Any time you see a coyote or bobcat in your yard, it is advisable to keep your pets indoors for a few hours, and then walk the dog on a lead when going out. Bobcats and Coyotes are typically covering a fair amount of ground each day, and they will move on quickly.
The same hazing strategies used for coyotes (high-decibel Storm whistle or air-horn) are effective for bobcats. If you are concerned about frequent sightings, or would like more information, feel free to contact Westport Animal Control (203-341-5076.