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Difference Between Cougar and Mountain lion

Cougar vs Mountain lion

Mountain lions and cougars are animals; the same animal referred to with different names depending on the region they are found in. “Cougar” also stands for women over the age of 40 or more who are interested in dating men at least 10 years younger than them. This article will not deal with cougar women but with the animal Puma concolor also known as cougar, mountain lion, puma, mountain cat, catamount ,and various other names also.

Cougar/Mountain lion

A cougar or mountain lion belongs to the Felidae family. It has made a record in the “Guinness” book due to the maximum names by which it is referred to. Some of the common names of cougars are: puma, panther, mountain cat, mountain lion, mountain screamer, painter, catamount, etc. The reason why it has so many names is because the mountain lion is widely distributed and found in a vast range.

Habitat and distribution

A mountain lion has the greatest range compared to any terrestrial animal in the Western hemisphere. It is dispersed from the Yukon in Canada to the southern Andes in South America. The prime reason for its vast distribution is its great adaptability. The cougars have adapted themselves to many varied habitats like lowlands, all kinds of forests, and mountainous deserts. They prefer dense underbrush, precipitous canyons, but can survive in open areas too with little vegetation.

Physical characteristics

The mountain lion is related more closely to felines which are smaller than lions. They are genetically closer to the domestic cat. They are agile and slender being the fourth largest in the cat family. The males weigh from 115-220 pounds, and females weigh from 65-140 pounds. The cougars have low-pitched purrs and growls. Unlike other lions, they cannot roar but can scream, thus the name “mountain screamer.” The mountain lions have a plain coloring because of which they acquired the name “concolor.” Their underbodies have lighter patches. The cubs are born spotted with blue eyes and tails with rings on them. One thing which distinguishes them from other cats is their large paws and their hind legs which are the largest in the cat family.

Food habits

The cougars are efficient predators. They stalk and ambush their prey before hunting them. Their main food consists of deer, bighorn sheep, elk, horses, moose, domestic cattle, etc. The cougars which are found in northern ranges also prey upon insects and small animals like rodents. An exception is the Florida panther which feeds on armadillos and hogs too.

Social structure

Cougars are solitary animals. The males leave soon after mating, and the females do all the parenting. Only females live in groups with the cubs. The litter size is two to six cubs, and the mortality rate is high. Young ones leave their mothers at the age of almost two.


“Cougar” and “mountain lion” are the same animal. The names are different because they are distributed in a wide range, and people refer to them with different names depending upon their region.

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  1. I live in the small town of Sultan, Wa An$ I was on my way home from work and I approached the top of the hill and started down the other side a large cougar or mountain lion jump in front of me and I almost hit it it vanished up in the woods just to the right of me.. I t had to weigh t atleast 200 lbs. Is it common for a cougar or mountain lion to be that close to our neighborhood.

    • I grew up in NE Wash. State. Cougars are common (that is they were common before being hunted and killed) but tend to stay away from human territory… they are becoming more rare. They have fewer habitats in which to live and hunt. Like everything else…the animal kingdom and the planet is being overtaken by human ignorance. Hopefully, we will learn before hunting and encroachment destroys our precious animal kingdoms.

  2. I was face to face with a adolescent male cougar while I was just walking in for a bow hunt. I was walking slowly on the side of a haybale row as I almost reached the end of it to my surprise a fairly good size cougar came walking from the end bale and we both were frozen in our tracks. Three bales away from each other. Which is around 15 ft or so, we both stared at one another. I will never forget the everlasting sound he made towards me. It seemed to never end. It also seemed that it didn’t stop to take a breath either. It just felt like it could make that sound and breathe at the same time. It also never took it’s eyes off me. All I had was my compound bow which I hadn’t put an arrow in yet. Slowly I did and calmly I talk in a stern voice to it telling him things that would help us both to escape without any harm. It seemed to last for days with the stare down. Finally which ended up being about 45 minutes of the face to face meeting we had. It turned and slowly circled me and went to a row of cedar trees and crouched down about 45 feet or so away from me. But the whole time it did this it never took he’s eyes off of me even while it went in between closely placed little trees 2 to 5 foot apart. After he decided to take a break under the cedars. I was able to get around the end of the bale row and shaking like a earthquake as I walked out aways into a crop field back to my vehicle calling my hunting trip a trip of it’s own feeling like it was going to jump up on that row of bales and come take me down for supper. I touch my truck and opened my door got in quickly and still shaking I was able to get a decent breath myself wondering how I was still alive or not attacked. I started up my truck and left. Thanking God himself for all the help he gave me in that one in a lifetime occasion. That will be forever with me. God you were there giving me the strength to overcome the cougar with willpower. Thank you.

  3. There are a few small differences in mountain lions and cougars that is rarely mentioned. Though the same cat the tails are slightly different. The mountain lions tail is thin and usually the same length as its body with a black tip on it. The cougars tail is shorter ( about 2/3 the length of its body) and will be bigger around and bushey.

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