As of September 2015, bobcat ownership is allowed in some states, usually with a permit. Each state has its own restrictions on whether or not they can be owned as pets, for educational use or for fur ranching.

Bobcats are considered exotic animals in most states and are regulated the same way that lions, tigers and leopards are regulated. Most states that allow private ownership of bobcats have restrictions on their housing and care. Some states have only recently outlawed the ownership of exotic pets, including bobcats, but allowed owners to keep the animals they acquired before the law was passed.