Harry Arter fired in from range to give Eddie Howe’s men an early lead, before Bruno Ecuele-Manga made the wasteful Cherries pay.
Middlesborough’s triumph at Derby and Watford’s win against Wigan means Bournemouth slip two points behind the automatic places into third.
The visitors made a fast start in their bid to keep the pace in the Championship promotion race.
They could have snatched an early lead after six minutes after Marc Pugh robbed Matthew Kennedy of the ball on the half-way line.
The Cherries midfielder burst towards the Cardiff 18-yard box unchallenged and rifled a right footed shot that cracked Simon Moore’s crossbar, before he failed to tuck-away the rebound.
The scare shocked the Bluebirds into life and it was not long before they created a chance of their own.
Striker Alex Revell laid a long-ball from the back into Craig Noone’s path on the edge of the area before he stung the hands of Artur Boruc in the Bournemouth goal.
Revell attempted to lob the Polish international before the high-flyers stopped the revival as quick as it had begun.
Arter was the man given freedom in Cardiff’s final third this time, and he used it to deadly effect.
The 25-year-old found a pocket of space and sent a rocket past Moore and into the top corner.
Howe was left furious when referee Lee Mason waved away claims for a penalty when Callum Wilson was felled by Ecuele-Manga.
And they were almost made to pay when Simon Francis poked Revell’s cross inches wide of his own goal, before Manga headed just over from the resulting corner.
The south coast club started the second-half much like the first, but could not find the all important second goal.
It looked like it was never going to come when Wilson managed to hit the post from less than a yard out.
The in-form front-man somehow failed to add to his 16 league goals after he was found in the six-yard box by Pugh after a clever slipped pass from Charlie Daniels.
And their lack of cutting edge was punished moments later when Ecuele-Manga netted the equaliser when he latched on to a trademark Peter Whittingham corner to level.
Matthew Connolly was booked for a lunge on Richie before the travelling fans saw Wilson given a bizarre yellow card after Moore kicked the ball out of his hands and into the back of the striker.
He missed a chance to win it with the last act when he headed inches wide.