Why are mountain lions called painters?

There is a simple reason why mountain lions are called painters. ‘Painter’ is a local American name for the puma (Felis concolor). Many early white settlers to America referred to the puma as the American panther. The word ‘panther‘ was corrupted to ‘painter’. In many rural districts of the mid-western and eastern US this became the usual pronunciation.

'Painter' corrupted from panther

The name ‘painter’ for the puma was made famous in 1913 when James Whitcomb Riley wrote: ‘Yes – and painters, prowlin’ ’bout,/ Allus darkest nights. Lay out/ Clost yer cattle. – Great, big red/ Eyes a blazing’ in their head…’

The mountain lion has the most names of all the wild cat species.

Note: this page has been updated as at Sept 15th, 2022 and republished (see update below). Are there mountain lions ...
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Source: Cat World by Dr Desmond Morris.

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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