Difference Between Cougar and Mountain Lion

Main Difference – Cougar vs Mountain Lion

Cougars are large members of the cat family and found in North and South America. They are called ‘cat of many names’ because different groups of people use different names for them. These animals are known by more than 30 different names. The most commonly used names include cougar, mountain lion, panther, painter, puma, and catamount. The name cougar has an Indian origin. The Inca Indians living in Peru called them pumas. Early settlers in America called them panthers. However, the English pioneers called them mountain lions. All these names are used for the same creature known as cougar (Puma concolor) categorized under family Felidae. Therefore, there is no actual difference between cougar and mountain lion.

Cougar vs Mountain Lion – Facts, Characteristics, and Behavior 

Cougar is a large cat that inhabits only North and South American territories. They are the second-heaviest cat live in New World, after jaguar. Detailed molecular studies confirm that there are six subspecies of cougars, out of which 5 subspecies are native to Latin America. Cougars are solitary, territorial animals and found mainly in rocky and open areas. Their territory size depends on the vegetation and the density of prey. Surprisingly, these animals can easily adapt to almost any type of habitat due to the presence of fast and powerful muscular body, sharp eyesight and keen hearing, the ability to swim, climb trees and jump long distances. These adaptations also make them excellent hunters and well-known ambush predators. Cougars are carnivores and mainly prefer to hunt ungulates. In addition, they also feed on insects, birds, and rodents. Most cougars have golden brown coats with dark marks on their face. However, few of them are totally black. Males are larger than females. A full-grown male can weigh about 80 kilograms. These animals are shy and usually avoid humans. In the early 1800s, people started hunting cougars because they believed that these creatures would damage their livestock. At that time, these creatures become endangered due to extreme hunting by people.

Difference Between Cougar and Mountain Lion - image 1

Mountain lion is also a name used for cougar by English invaders. Even today, the term mountain lion is commonly used in North America.

Difference Between Cougar and Mountain Lion

  • Term ‘mountain lion’ is commonly used by North Americans, whereas other names like a puma,panther, are commonly used by South Americans to call cougars.

Image Courtesy:

“Mountain Lion” by USFWS Mountain-Prairie – 8th Place – Mountain Lion, via

About the Author: Yashoda

Yashoda has been a freelance writer in the field of biology for about four years. He is an expert in conducting research related to polymer chemistry and nano-technology. He holds a B.Sc. (Hons) degree in Applied Science and a Master of Science degree in Industrial Chemistry.


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