It makes good sense that puma cubs have spots for camouflage protection as they are incredibly vulnerable. The spots disappear with age. This is an example of age-related differences in coat colour and patterning among the cat species. This change implies that nature has decided that the adult puma does not need camouflage protection as they are capable of defending themselves. That’s correct except that nature failed to consider the human who sometimes likes to hunt pumas in the US.
For other cat species the spots remain the same throughout their life. This would apply to the wonderfully spotted margay. The coat remains identical in terms of shape, size and number of spots throughout their life. Except that they enlarge or scale up as the young kitten becomes older.
Spots are useful camouflage both for defending themselves through hiding and when stalking prey. Scientists can identify cat species by the type of spots they have.
Young cubs are particularly vulnerable because the mother has to leave the den to find food. As the cubs grow up, they become more inquisitive and venture out of the den on their own especially when the mother is absent. A moment of extreme vulnerability to other predators. The cubs have little knowledge of the real world at this stage. Their spotted coats help to protect them.
Although not stated, I’ll presume that the same or similar genetic process creates the spotted coat in puma cubs as it does in domestic cats – e.g., for the Bengal cat. This will be the genes that create the tabby coat…
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