Wildcats prowling a backyard in a small town north of Kingston caused a bit of scare earlier this week.

A woman living in Sydenham, Ont., spotted the cats in her backyard and thought they might have been cougars, so she called a nearby school to warn them.

Staff at Loughborough Public School responded by keeping their students indoors during recess and preventing them from moving between different buildings on school property. Staff then notified the school board and called local police and the Ministry of Natural Resources to investigate.

"And then I had a visit from the Ministry of Natural Resources personnel," said Helen Peterson, principal of Loughborough Public School. "They explained to me that the animals were not, in fact, cougars.

"They were bobcats." 

Bobcats no risk to humans

According to Mike Runtz, a naturalist at Carleton University, the Sydenham area is an ideal habitat for bobcats.

"You're on the edge of the Canadian Shield and it's good rugged country and continuous forests and ponds and wetlands," he said.

But Runtz wants people to know that bobcats pose no risks.

"These are relatively small cats. They're only about a metre long in body length," said Runtz. "No danger whatsoever. Their main food is small mammals." 

He does have advice for those who might be nervous around the wild animals. 

"Generally, with these wildcats, they're very elusive. The slightest bit of noise should make them vanish into the woodwork," he said. "Clap your hands or shout or something and see what happens."