This is a leading or links page on the Puma cat. The links lead to other pages that expand on the particular topics discussed.
As there are links to lots more information, this page contains short summaries on the listed topics.
I have tried to cover all the subjects but in a populist as well as a slightly scientific manner, while all the time supporting the cat, seeing things from the point of view of the cat, which in effect translates to seeing the whole picture through threats and conservation.
As a former president of the United States said (I’ll summarise), there has been a lot of “loose writing” about this cat (there still is!) and as a result there are many names for this wild cat. It might be that another reason for the wide range of names is the very wide range/distribution of this cat. In addition, the name is used extensively by people to name products and teams and whatever. Is that another reason why there are a number of names for the cat (creating new options in associating the cat with a product)?
See Puma Cat the Name for the full low down on the names.
This is a plain coloured cat, hence the scientific name Puma concolor (concolor: Of the same color; of uniform color). This is unusual as most wild cats have tabby cat markings, which are often striking. Another notable feature is its size, which is often smaller than we think and which varies a lot depending on where the cat lives . They are bigger in the colder climates. There is also a large weight difference between sexes. They are quite slender with long limbs (particularly the hind legs), a combination that makes this cat a very able jumper and sprinter. There are some black pumas too (melanistic). Above all, this cat has some characteristics of small cats, while looking like a big one. It can’t roar for example (see Mountain Cat Sounds).
See Cougar Pictures for more description. Pictures provide the best description and the linked page has a written description too.
The range is as wide as the name is variable. It pretty much goes from the top of north America to the bottom of south America. But it is shrinking all the time due to human expansion and activity. See Puma Cat Range for a large, current (2009) map of the distribution of this cat. You can update and improve it if you are able and willing! Another feature of the puma cat range is its variability; from the very hot to the very cold and from sea level to 5,800 metres above it. This is an adaptable cat.
Feeding Ecology/behaviour/Social Organisation
An opportunistic hunter as are all cats, its range of prey is as wide as its range of habitats. In the tropics the puma cat will feed on small mammals such as rodents, while in Canada it is deer and elk. The puma stalks using cover and approaches to a sufficiently close position to reduce the attack to a distance as short as 2.5 metres. Having brought down and suffocated large prey it then uses its considerable strength to drag the carcass to a secure place and hide it if leaving and returning. There is possibly an exaggerated fear of the possibility of an attack on people and the response is often disproportionate. I have dealt with this section by writing about the Mountain Lion Attack. Mountain lion attacks are very rare and can be seen off with the right technique (see e.g. Mountain Lion Attacks in California).
I also look at our philosophy towards this cat in Wild Cougar (new page). Females focus on places that are rich in prey when selecting a home range, while males select on the basis of proximity to females! Sounds familiar. A male’s range is usually considerably larger than the females. Ranges overlap and communication between pumas is necessary to avoid or minimise conflict. This is achieved in various ways from scrapes to a range of vocalizations.
I have dealt with this by discussing Mountain lion cubs. The age at which females first reproduce varies substantially, being from 18 months to 43 months. Mating behaviour is similar to other large cats and ovulation is induced by mating. Conception rates are low despite studies reporting a large number of copulations in a day (up to 20 per day in one study over 6-11 day period). The life of a mountain lion cub when he becomes independent is fraught with danger and begins at about one year of age.
This is always governed by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ as they are the experts. They rate the puma cat as Least Concern (LC). I disagree with this. All the threats are to do with people. Regulated sport hunting (with dogs) is still allowed in the USA (except Calif). Then there is habitat loss and fragmentation or retaliation for livestock loss or traffic that kills a very significant numbers of the puma cat particularly in Florida and California. There is also poisoning. The cat is persecuted.
This page covers most of it: Conservation of the Puma Cat. I also provocatively and mischievously allege that there just might be a deliberate attempt by some people in Florida to rid the state of the Puma cat: Conspiracy to Eradicate the Florida Panther (new page).