This response was provided by Darryl Coates, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, District Wildlife Biologist.
Good morning, The first step in handling a problem with wildlife is to identify the animal that is causing the problem. In my opinion, you could be blaming the wrong species. Just because you saw a bobcat on your farm does not mean a bobcat was responsible for removing your pets unless you actually saw it happen. Our web directory contains photos of tracks, scat, typical signs of wildlife damage, and pictures of animals most likely to cause problems in Illinois. If you have photos of tracks, scat, or damage caused by wildlife that you would like to share and help us to identify the animal, please contact your local District Wildlife Biologist. For information about Bobcats in your area or if you need help trouble shooting your situation contact your local IDNR District Wildlife Biologist. Contact info. can be found on the "Find a Professional" page on the "Living with Wildlife" website.
Coyotes and foxes are the first animals I think of with the disappearance of domestic animals. The key is to make sure that cats and small dogs are inside by dusk. Also pick up food and water before nightfall. Domestic pets left outside at night are susceptible to predation. Pet food left out is easy picking for wildlife and make them less wary of humans. Please check out our website for Pevention and Control methods for these other species.
Bobcat information requested:
Legal Status The bobcat is protected in Illinois.
Damage Prevention and Control Methods
Exclusion Use woven-wire enclosures to discourage bobcats from entering poultry and small animal pens at night. Bobcats can climb, so wooden fence posts or structures that give the bobcat footing may not be effective. Bobcats also have the ability to jump fences 6 feet (1.8 m) or more in height. Use woven wire overhead if necessary. Fences are seldom totally effective except in very small enclosures.
Cultural Methods Bobcats prefer areas with sufficient brush, timber, rocks, and other cover, and normally do not move far from these areas. Keep brush cut or sprayed around farmsteads to eliminate routes of connecting vegetation from bobcat habitat to potential predation sites.
Frightening Devices Use night lighting with white flashing lights, or bright continuous lighting, to repel bobcats. You can also use blaring music, barking dogs, or changes in familiar structures to temporarily discourage bobcats.
Repellents, Fumigants, and Toxicants No chemical repellents, fumigants, or toxicants are currently registered for bobcats. Commercial house cat repellents might be effective in some very unusual circumstances. A hindrance to development of toxicants is the bobcat’s preference to feed on fresh kills.
Thanks for writing.