Cougar vs. Puma

What's the Difference?

Cougar and Puma are two closely related big cat species that share many similarities. Both belong to the same genus, Puma, and are known for their agility, strength, and stealth. They have similar physical characteristics, with a slender and muscular body, a long tail, and a round head. However, there are some slight differences between the two. Cougars are generally larger and heavier than Pumas, with males weighing up to 220 pounds, while Pumas typically weigh around 150 pounds. Additionally, their habitats differ slightly, with cougars being found in North and South America, while Pumas have a wider distribution across the Americas. Despite these differences, both Cougar and Puma are magnificent predators and play crucial roles in maintaining the balance of their ecosystems.


Scientific NamePuma concolorPuma concolor
Common NamesCougar, Mountain Lion, PumaPuma, Mountain Lion, Cougar
Weight60-140 kg30-72 kg
Lifespan8-13 years8-13 years
Conservation StatusLeast ConcernLeast Concern
Physical AppearanceTawny coat, muscular body, long tailTawny coat, muscular body, long tail
BehaviorSolitary, territorialSolitary, territorial

Further Detail


Cougars and pumas are two majestic big cats that share many similarities, yet they also have distinct differences. Both belong to the same genus, Puma, and are known by different names in different regions. In this article, we will explore the attributes of cougars and pumas, including their physical characteristics, habitat, behavior, diet, and conservation status.

Physical Characteristics

Cougars and pumas are similar in size and appearance, making it challenging to differentiate between the two. They both have a slender and agile body, with a long tail that helps them maintain balance while running and climbing. Adult cougars and pumas can measure between 6 to 9 feet in length, including their tail, and weigh between 100 to 200 pounds. Their fur is typically tan or brown, providing excellent camouflage in their natural habitats.

One key difference in their physical characteristics is their geographic variation. Cougars found in North America tend to be larger and heavier than their counterparts in South America, which are commonly referred to as pumas. This variation in size is likely due to differences in prey availability and environmental factors.


Cougars and pumas have a wide distribution across the Americas, from Canada to Argentina. They are highly adaptable and can thrive in various habitats, including forests, mountains, deserts, and grasslands. However, they prefer areas with dense vegetation that provides cover for hunting and stalking their prey.

While both species have overlapping ranges, cougars are primarily found in North America, while pumas are more commonly found in South America. Cougars are known to inhabit diverse ecosystems, including the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Nevada, and the Appalachian Mountains. Pumas, on the other hand, are often found in the Andes Mountains and the Amazon rainforest.


Cougars and pumas are solitary animals, except during mating season or when females are raising their cubs. They are known for their stealth and agility, which allows them to be efficient hunters. These big cats are primarily nocturnal, meaning they are most active during the night, although they may also be active during dawn and dusk.

Both cougars and pumas are territorial and mark their territories with scent markings and scratch marks on trees. They have excellent vision and hearing, enabling them to detect prey from a distance. When hunting, they rely on their powerful hind legs to pounce on their unsuspecting prey, which can include deer, elk, small mammals, and occasionally livestock.


The diet of cougars and pumas is similar, consisting mainly of ungulates such as deer and elk. However, they are opportunistic predators and will also feed on smaller mammals, birds, and even insects when larger prey is scarce. These big cats are known for their ability to take down prey that is much larger than themselves, thanks to their strength and stealthy hunting techniques.

Both cougars and pumas are ambush predators, patiently stalking their prey before launching a surprise attack. They often target weak or injured animals, ensuring a successful hunt. After capturing their prey, they will drag it to a secluded spot and cover it with leaves or grass to protect it from scavengers.

Conservation Status

The conservation status of cougars and pumas varies depending on their geographic location. In North America, cougars are listed as a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, some subspecies, such as the Florida panther, are considered endangered due to habitat loss and fragmentation.

Pumas, on the other hand, have a more precarious conservation status. While they are not currently listed as endangered, their populations are declining in many regions due to habitat destruction, illegal hunting, and conflicts with humans. Efforts are being made to protect and conserve these magnificent cats, including the establishment of protected areas and implementing conservation programs.


In conclusion, cougars and pumas share many similarities in their physical characteristics, habitat preferences, behavior, and diet. However, their geographic variation and conservation status set them apart. Understanding the attributes of these big cats is crucial for their conservation and ensuring their survival in the wild. By appreciating their unique qualities, we can work towards protecting these magnificent creatures and the ecosystems they inhabit.

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