Here are two pictures of muscular pumas and when I saw them, particularly the first one, I was taken aback somewhat because I am one of those people who think of pumas as bearing a closer resemblance to cheetahs than the other big cats such as the lion. The puma is a member of the big cat group or it thinks it should be. But I don’t see it that way.
I think of the puma as being relatively lightweight, relying on agility and its ability to jump for its success in surviving. And then when I saw this photograph with rippling muscles in the upper forearm (forelimb more accurately) my attitude towards the puma changed a bit.
Pumas are regarded as having rounded heads, slim, lanky bodies and moderately long limbs. They are retiring cats also like the cheetah with more of a desire to flee than fight. The puma rarely feels the need to confront humans. Cheetahs are known to be predisposed to being semi-domesticated. They are friendly and, for that matter, the puma is a pet cat too many people in America.
Perhaps it is wrong to show these photographs because they support the attitude of a lot of people in America and around the world that the puma is bigger than they really are. The size of this cat is frequently overestimated.
Sometimes they can be quite small. For example, adult females can weigh from 60% to 40% less than male pupils. Take a small female puma and you are not going to see a very large cat.
For example, in one survey the average weight of 10 females in Brazil was about 37 kg. And in New Mexico the weights of 11 females was found to average about 32 kg. The latter is about 70 lbs. Hardly a “big cat”. And that’s why I think of the puma as not really being a big cat but quite a cute, unassuming wild cat. I was wrong to a certain extent as these pictures show.
The pictures show the muscles in the shoulders and upper forelimbs but, interestingly, compared with other large cats, the puma has unusually long hind legs which are very powerful. It’s due to a combination of long levers and strong, fast-twitch muscles which can propel this impressive cat to some amazing jumps.
One scientist observed a puma leaping 20 feet straight up a cliff. And “pumas chased by dogs have made downhill leaps 30 and 40 feet long”. On another occasion, “a female puma, sitting near her kill, leaping over a two-metre-high mesquite bush and catching a vulture in midair as it was about to land on the shrub” is another indication of the jumping power of this cat. Both these quotes come from Mel and Fiona Sunquist’s book Wild Cats of the World.