This Canadian Lynx Is Twice The Size Of A Cat. Now Watch His Reaction When A Trainer Goes To Pet Him

With their ferocious reputation, razor-sharp teeth and formidable claws, it’s sometimes hard to believe that bigger wild cats are related to the humble felines we call pets. Still, such larger cats have a distinctly bigger bite than the domestic variety. So when a Canadian lynx’s owner attempts to stroke him like a pet, how do you think he will react?
Image: Wikimedia/Art G
Image: Art G
Canadian lynxes can be found throughout the whole of Canada and in some parts of the United States. While exclusive to North America, they are closely related to the Iberian and Eurasian lynx, both of which are found in Europe. Closer to home, though, the species also counts bobcats as cousins.
On average, Canadian lynxes are 23 inches tall and 35 inches long. This makes them about twice the size of your average house cat. But because they tend to live solitary lives and make their homes away from human civilization, they are known as the “gray ghost of the north.” Indeed, they tend to reside in densely forested areas, where they scout out their dens in hidden nooks and crannies.
And thanks to their large eyes and distinctive pointy ears, Canadian lynxes are perfectly suited to hunting at night. They mainly eat snowhares, although they will catch other forms of small mammals when hares are scarce. The cats’ predators, meanwhile, are coyotes, cougars and wolves, and humans also hunt the animals for their fur.
Image: Flickr/Richard Nix
Image: Richard Nix
There has never been an abundance of lynxes in the United States, but they were traditionally found in as many as 25 states. However, their numbers have dramatically declined due to loss and fragmentation of their habitat. Indeed, things got so bad for the cat that in 2000 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the species as threatened in the lower 48 states.
But while it has gotten harder to catch a glimpse of the Canadian lynx in the wild, many are available to view at zoos. And that’s where Max comes in. Yes, the infant lynx was born at a zoo in May 2011 before being released to wildlife educator Bernadette Hoffman.
Hoffman began working with animals as a zookeeper at Hoosick Falls, New York, in 2002. When the zoo closed six years later, however, she took on a part-time job at a natural history museum. In her free time, too, she taught wildlife education courses. Therefore, little Max found himself in perfectly capable hands.
In fact, Max appears to have settled in well in his new environment. So well, it seems, that after almost five years in Hoffman’s care, the lynx has apparently forgotten that he is a medium-sized wild cat. Indeed, extraordinary footage posted by the animal educator shows just how much trust exists between the pair.
The video, which was posted to YouTube, shows Max purring loudly as he is greeted by Hoffman. With the promise of a stroke, the lynx lifts himself toward his handler and gently bobs his head on her hand. Then, as Hoffman strokes him, the cat’s purrs get louder and louder, just like any domesticated feline’s.
After a while, the adorable animal sinks to the ground as he relaxes to his fullest. He even rests his head on his paws and closes his eyes, thoroughly enjoying the pleasurable massage. Just then, Hoffmann begins scratching Max under his chin, which as any cat owner will know, cats can’t resist.
Surrendering to his master’s advancements, Max rolls on his back and wraps his paws lovingly around Hoffman’s arm. All the while, the feline’s purr resonates throughout the room. It appears from the video that Max has a lot more in common with the humble house cat than may have been previously thought.
In a caption that accompanied the heart-warming video, Hoffman explained, “Max Lynx, the educational animal ambassador, takes a moment to get some good scratchin’ before he sits down for his meal. He was born at a zoo in May 2011. He’s not completely domesticated but not wild either.”
Hoffman added, “He educates the public on the endangered Canada Lynx in hope that people will be driven to conserve our environment and protect our wildlife. He is NOT declawed. During the winter he weighs 40 pounds and summer about 34. He has about four inches of fur in this video which makes him look fat… I mean fluffy!”
Since the video was posted in January 2016, it has been viewed an impressive 700,000 times. It has also attracted thousands of comments. In fact, many of the observations marvel at the similarities between Max and domesticated felines.
“It’s just like a giant pussycat! So cute,” commented one YouTube user. “My cat has the exact same body movement pattern when I pet him. A cat really is a cat, in all sizes,” added another. “It’s just a matter of scale in terms of how dangerous they can be; otherwise their behavior (in most species) is pretty much the same as your common house cat,” one more said.
But, while he may look cute, Max is still a semi-wild animal. Therefore, his behavior isn’t always predictable. When asked if the cat had ever hurt her or others, Hoffman responded, “Max has no contact with anyone except myself, so he has not injured anyone. I have gotten a black eye and a couple good scratches but no bite marks and none of the injuries were from aggression – just stupid accidents.”
Still, Max was just a baby when Hoffman acquired him, so he would have been easier than most to train. In fact, videos from his first months in his new home show the lynx being taught how to walk on a lead. More footage features Max at his first educational visit. And, although he appeared nervous at first, he soon eased into his new role.
But when Max isn’t out helping teach youngsters about bigger cats like him, he’s at home with Hoffman, where he has an indoor and an outdoor enclosure. According to Hoffman, the lynx loves being out in the snow the most. “It makes him frisky and wild,” she said. “He rolls in it, licks and sniffs it. Normally, I wouldn’t allow the adrenaline rush but… sometimes you just have to give a little.”
But while he evidently loves being out in the open, Max will never be able to live out in the wild like other Canadian lynxes. As he was born in a zoo, the cat is probably too domesticated to live among others of his kind. He also has to take regular medication to fight an ailment. “His pancreas doesn’t function properly and therefore he needs enzymes on his meat daily,” Hoffman explained.
So, although he probably won’t contribute to the population of Canada lynxes with his own cubs, Max is still doing his part for the protection of his species. As an animal ambassador, Max is helping children better understand the need to secure a safe future for his species. “Education of our next generation is the only hope for the survival of our endangered and threatened animals,” Hoffman said.

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