Dangerous wild animals: species guidance

Individual species guidance on the keeping of dangerous wild animals.

Lynx and bobcats

Species names

Lynx lynx – Northern or Eurasian lynx
Lynx canadensis – Canadian lynx
Lynx pardinus – Iberian lynx
Lynx rufus – bobcat

Housing overview

Lynx and bobcats are temperate species and generally live and hunt on the ground. They are usually kept in outdoor enclosures, but should have some form of shelter to protect them from extremes of weather.

Conservation status

Lynx lynx and lynx pardinus are classified as Annex A species under EC Regulation 338/97 (relating to the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)).  

Special permits must be obtained to buy, sell, breed or use Annex A species for any commercial purpose.

Keeping experience

In order to protect the welfare of these animals, keepers must be able to demonstrate a good knowledge of husbandry and handling of the species they wish to keep. 

There should be a second named person on the licence who is competent to care for the animals should the owner be absent or incapacitated.

Housing recommendations


Most cat species are excellent climbers and it is recommended that outdoor enclosures have a roof. Enclosures are normally made from wooden posts and wire mesh. Any concrete or artificial flooring should be non-slip.

It is recommended that the floor of outdoor enclosures is covered in a mulch-type substrate such as bark chips or wood chippings.


Fencing for enclosures must be strong enough to withstand the weight of the cats climbing on it, and the mesh size used must be small enough to prevent the animals becoming entangled. If the enclosure fencing is the only means of separation from visitors, it is strongly recommended that the mesh size is small enough to prevent people putting their fingers through it.

The fencing should ideally be set into concrete foundations to prevent the cats digging underneath. All fencing should be well maintained.


The minimum recommended space requirements are:

4m length x 2m width x 2.5m high for a single animal.  

The larger lynx species (the Eurasian lynx) will require more space than this. Any additional animals will require a further 50% increase in floor space.

Consideration should also be given to the sections on social dynamics and behavioural considerations and exercise and enrichment when designing the animals’ enclosure.

Temperature and shelter

Normal outdoor temperatures should be tolerable, however all cats in outdoor enclosures should be provided with at least one draught-free den each, with sufficient clean bedding in which to sleep, hide, and shelter. Additional bedding may be needed if temperatures drop below 10ºC. Lynx enjoy snow.


Whilst most small cats are usually more active during the night, they must be provided with some form of natural lighting during the day. The light should be sufficient to allow the keeper to clean and maintain the enclosure easily.  

The hours of daylight influences the breeding cycle of many cats, and so naturalistic lighting regimes (i.e. the natural lengthening and shortening of daylight hours through the year) are recommended for cats intended for breeding.


Enclosed holding quarters should have some suitable form of ventilation. 


The drainage of the outdoor enclosures must be capable of rapidly removing all excess water. Drains should be designed to avoid injury to the animals. Any open drains, other than those carrying surface water, should be outside the enclosure. Any faecal material must be disposed of in an environmentally sound manner.


Outdoor enclosures should be maintained in a clean state, with faeces, food debris and litter being removed on a regular basis. Since cats “scent mark” by rubbing their cheeks and head and urinating on their enclosures, thorough disinfection of the outdoor enclosures should be done sparingly.

Social dynamics and behavioural considerations

All species of small wild cats are solitary in nature, and are intolerant of adults of the same sex; however breeding pairs may live together. It is therefore recommended that these cats are not kept together in large groups.

If a group of cats is kept together, there should be several visual barriers to allow the animals to hide from one another.

Although lynx and bobcats spend most of their time on the ground, they enjoy climbing, and will appreciate high perches. It is recommended that some provision is made for the cats to express their normal climbing behaviour.

If more than one cat is kept in an enclosure, some provision should be made to separate them if necessary. 

Prevention of escape

A double door with a space of approximately 2m² separating the two gates should be erected at the entrance to outdoor enclosures, allowing the keeper to enter without a risk of the animals escaping. Both gates should be padlocked.  

The public must not be able to gain access to the perimeter of the enclosure - this may require the erection of a secondary fence. Signs warning of the danger should be erected.

Food, drink and bedding

In general, small exotic cats share the same food requirements as domestic cats. A high quality complete cat food, or a varied meat diet, including some whole prey items such as rabbits or day-old chicks, may be provided. The feeding of live vertebrate prey is prohibited. The feeding exclusively of moist cat food will lead to dental problems.

Fresh drinking water must be provided at all times.

Bedding material in the dens can include wood chips, wood wool, or straw. The provision of more than one den is advisable, as some cats will use one den as a toileting area and one to sleep in. Each cat should be provided with a raised sleeping platform.

Visiting interval

The animals must be monitored at appropriate intervals, normally at least once every 24 hours.

Exercise and enrichment

The provision of enrichment items to provide interest and opportunity to exercise is extremely important. These species enjoy climbing, and so there should be plenty of opportunity to express this behaviour within the enclosure. This may be achieved by the use of trees, logs, platforms or commercially available “cat gyms”.

Other suitable enrichment would include the use of novel feeding methods (hiding the food around the enclosure or using different food items) and by including plants (which may be eaten) into the enclosure.

The more complex the enclosure can be, the less likely the cats are to display abnormal behaviours such as pacing.

Provision for capture and transportation

Lynx and bobcats may be transported to a veterinary surgeon in a locked cat or dog cage. A licence, issued by the local authority, for the keeping of these animals may specify restrictions on the movement of these animals and procedures to be followed.

Emergency planning

There should be a written contingency plan in place to be used in the event of an emergency, for example fire, flood, animal escape or injury to the keeper.

Notification requirements

The licence may also specify procedures to be followed in the event of an escape and on the provision of information to the emergency services.

You are required to notify the local authority of any intentions to breed the animals.

Prevention and control of spread of infectious disease

Provision should be made to allow the separation of sick or injured animals if more than one animal is kept in an enclosure. Temporary isolation can be achieved using a large, lockable plastic dog crate or similar.

The keeper should provide details of their veterinary arrangements with a practice prepared to treat these animals. A schedule of veterinary care, including vaccination and routine parasite control is required, and the keeping of records of veterinary attention is essential. These animals are at serious risk of feline diseases.

Animals acquired from outside the UK may be subject to rabies quarantine regulations. Anyone requiring further information should contact APHA.

There are no transmissible diseases carried by these animals that pose a risk to the general public as long as there is no direct contact, and visitors are not allowed to handle the animals or their by-products. Keepers should be aware of the risks of toxoplasmosis, a potentially harmful parasite that may be transmitted to humans through cat faeces. For this reason, good hygiene practices should be always observed when handling cats, or cleaning their enclosures.





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