Texas State adopted the bobcat — so called because of its "bobbed" tail, typical of cats in the American Lynx family — as its official athletic mascot in 1920.
Soon after Oscar “Oskie” Strahan, came to the university in 1919 as the new athletic director, he discovered that the then-Southwest Texas State Normal School had no gym or mascot. Soon after, the student newspaper started an editorial campaign in support of adopting an athletic mascot to “raise the school spirit from the depths of oblivion.”
The Student Council appointed a committee led by the head of the Biology Department, Dr. C. Spurgeon Smith, to select a mascot. Smith’s personal selection, the bobcat, was chosen and approved because the bobcat is a “fighter of great courage.”
Smaller than mountain lions, bobcats are infamous for their stubborn fierceness and great courage. Coach Strahan once said, "A bobcat will fight you with everything he has; with four claws, teeth, speed and brains."
The football squad used the bobcat for the first time in 1921 and went undefeated with a 7-0 season.
Texas State was the only college in the country to use this name for its athletic teams until the late 1920s, when Montana State also adopted the bobcat as their mascot.
Texas State has had several officially recognized live bobcat mascots. According to the November 3, 1955 edition of the College Star, "Bashful Bob" was caught five miles north of San Marcos in 1922. In 1955 "Cheetah" was acquired from Mr. & Mrs. James F. King of Austin and kept by head cheerleader Sid Boaz. During the 1960s, the university had a live bobcat who lived in a cage in the Quad area near Evans Auditorium. In the 1970s that bobcat was transferred to the Waco Zoo for animal rights reasons.
Once very common in this area of Central and Southwest Texas, encroaching urbanization has decimated bobcat numbers. However, the bobcat is still a resident of the Central Texas Hill Country.