A pet lynx has a huge appeal to big cat fans. A smaller member of the large wild cats, it still weighs up to a hefty 60lbs depending on the type. Eurasian, North American, Canadian and Iberian Lynx don’t have the bad reputation of pet tigers and might seem on the surface to be a safer choice for a pet big cat, but they are actually packed with attitude and potential problems. Lynx kittens when hand reared can act like giant, grumpy housecats for a while, but adult pet lynx are messy, aggressive and cause even more problems when they hit sexual maturity. Today we’ll look at what it takes to keep an adult lynx as a pet, and help you to decide whether it’s safe, practical or even legal for you to give it a try.
- What are lynx?
- Lynx types and size
- Are pet lynx aggressive?
- What do you feed a pet lynx?
- Pet lynx lifespan
- Are pet lynx active?
- Is it legal to keep a pet lynx?
- Alternatives to a pet lynx
A pet lynx is an unusual pet cat indeed! You might even be wondering if there is such an animal as a pet lynx. The answer is yes. However, keeping a lynx as a companion feline is not legal everywhere.
What is a Lynx?
The lynx can seem like a big cat when compared to the size of the average pet cat. But in the world of truly big wild cats like lions and tigers, the lynx is fairly small. You may not realize that there are actually four different lynx cat species, which are the Eurasian lynx, the Iberian lynx, the Canadian lynx and the bobcat.
How Big Does a Lynx Get?
Adult lynx size and weight varies quite a bit based on two factors: species and gender. Gender-wise, males typically outweigh females by five to 10 pounds in all four lynx species. Species-wise, the Eurasian lynx is the largest of the four lynx cat species. Eurasian lynx can easily weigh 40 to 60 pounds, stand up to two and a half feet tall and measure more than four feet long from nose tip to tail base.
The smallest species, the Iberian lynx, rarely weighs more than 30 pounds and stands around two feet tall. This lynx typically measures a little over three feet long.
The Canada lynx weighs up to 24 pounds and stands just under two feet tall. Adult Canada lynx may measure three and a half feet long. The North American bobcat lynx weighs up to 30 pounds and stands around two feet tall. They may measure up to three feet four inches long in adulthood.
Lynx Personality and Temperament
A wild lynx kitten will stay with the mother cat for about 10 months before setting out to live a solitary adult life. These cats are nocturnal hunters and spend most of each day resting and sleeping.
Adult lynx can be very territorial when challenged. However, lynx typically keep a low profile and prefer to avoid encountering or interacting with humans. You may be thinking this doesn’t sound like a very good temperament for a potential pet cat.
The truth is, most pet lynx are acquired in kittenhood when they are quite capable of imprinting on a human carer. However, caring for a lynx kitten is quite different than caring for a fully grown, sexually mature adult lynx with special housing, dietary and socialization needs.
For these and other reasons, experts agree all lynx should be allowed to live a natural wild life. The only exceptions would be lynx that have sustained injuries that make them un-releasable in the wild. These special-case cats may make suitable ambassador animals in adulthood.
What Does a Pet Lynx Eat?
All lynx species, like all felines, are obligate carnivores. This means their digestive system has evolved to consume a diet of pure animal protein. The only type of plant matter a wild lynx would ever consume would be the partially digested contents of a herbivorous prey animal’s stomach.
However, the lynx diet does vary somewhat depending on species as well as cat size. For example, lynx in Canada eat snowshoe hares almost exclusively, although they will eat squirrels, birds and rodents as needed. The Iberian lynx prefers to eat wild rabbits. But they will hunt ducks, small deer and birds as needed.
The Eurasian lynx, being the largest of the four lynx species, is capable of hunting larger prey species such as various species of deer. And the North American bobcat is an opportunistic predator, hunting squirrels and other rodents, wild birds, domestic fowl and even housecats.
How Long Do Pet Lynx Live?
A pet lynx can easily live 20 years or more in captivity with an appropriate diet, enough space to roam and excellent veterinary care.
Pet Lynx Eyes and Eyesight
The word “lynx” translates from the original Greek word “leukos” and means “bright.” Why bright? Cats like lynx that hunt at night have specialized structures in their eyes to optimize sight in low light conditions. Lynx have more light-sensing rods in their eyes. Lynx eyes also have a special lens filled with cellular crystals called the tapetum lucidum (literal translation: “eyeshine”).
This special lens is located behind the light-receiving retina, so it catches the incoming light and reflects it back to the retina. This means the retina gets twice as much light to see images. It is also what makes lynx eyes glow at night. Glowing eyes isn’t the lynx’s only special feature, either.
Are Pet Lynx Active?
These are incredibly active animals. Their elongated legs help them walk more easily in deep snow conditions where all but Bobcats dwell naturally. All lynx except bobcats also have hair on the bottoms of each paw pad to give them extra stability in wet conditions and make them strong swimmers. And the lynx cat’s unusually short tail helps the cat keep a lower profile while hunting.
If all these neat adaptations weren’t already enough, researchers also believe the lynx’s ear hair may improve their hearing over long distances. An alternate theory is that lynx ear tufts serve as another type of whiskers to pick up subtle cues in their near environment.
Is Keeping a Pet Lynx Legal?
It is very important to recognize that keeping a wild lynx in captivity is not legal in all areas. Some areas may require special permits for keeping a wild animal such as the lynx. In other areas, a captive lynx may only be permitted temporarily for rehabilitation and release purposes.
Alternatives To A Pet Lynx
If you have your heart set on a pet lynx, consider adopting one of their lookalike domestic relatives instead. For example, you could adopt a Highland Lynx cat instead. This domestic cat is a new breed that has been deliberately bred to resemble wild lynx.
Pixie-bob cats have been deliberately bred to look like North American bobcats. And Desert Lynx domestic cats can actually trace their breed heritage back to the wild bobcat. Another great choice is the Maine Coon cat, a large and intelligent domestic cat with very lynx-like tufted ears.
Which one of these lookalike pet lynx cats strikes your fancy? Let us know in the comments.
Learn More About Really Wild Pets
- What Do Wild Cats Eat?
- Gooty Sapphire Tarantula
- Pet Platypus
- Pumpkin Patch Tarantula
- What Do Wild Dogs Eat?
- Magrino et al. “The Desert Lynx Breed.” International Desert Cat Association, 2022.
- Johansen et al. “Lynx: Information.” Animal Diversity Web/University of Michigan, 2020.