Have you see that viral video of a bobcat attacking a woman, then getting grabbed and thrown by her husband? Some people found it hilarious. Others found it terrifying. A few called it fake, correctly observing that bobcat attacks on humans are extremely rare.
The video is unfortunately real, but we need to emphasize that it is not a reason to fear bobcats. Bobcat attacks on humans are extremely rare because they are very elusive, shy creatures who prefer to avoid the sights, sounds, and smells of humans. There has never been a single fatal bobcat attack on a human in all of recorded history, but thousands of people per year die from attacks by domestic cats and dogs. The reason the video is so shocking is precisely because it is so extremely rare.
The bobcat in the video was clearly unwell. We noticed in the video that the bobcat was loudly vocalizing while approaching, which is not something a bobcat ever does while stalking its prey. (Why scare away your dinner?) The vocalizations also sounded highly unusual to us and were more consistent with an animal in pain than one looking for a meal.
The sheriff’s office local told the couple in the video confirmed that a rabid bobcat had been killed nearby, and it was almost certainly the same individual.
This is very, very usual, since rabies is actually surprisingly uncommon in bobcats. The animals most commonly infected with rabies in the U.S. include bats, skunks, raccoons, foxes, and domestic cats. Rabies is actually confirmed in bobcats even less often than it’s confirmed in cattle and groundhogs!
The bottom line: yeah, that video was a trip! But there’s no reason to live in fear of bobcats or to harm them. You’re astronomically more likely to get struck by lightning than to ever experience an attack by a bobcat.