Difference Between Mountain Lion and Puma

Mountain Lion vs Puma

Puma, mountain lion, cougar, painter, mountain cat, catamount, and many other names are being used to refer the same animal. In fact, this animal holds the Guinness world record for the highest number of names being used for a particular animal. The interesting fact about naming of the mountain lion is that the different names are based on the geographical localities. There are many myths related to this interesting carnivore, but this article would not explore through those. The main objective of this writing is to straighten any doubtful information about mountain lions, as it could be easily confusing. As both the names, Puma and mountain lion, refer to one biological animal species, this article describes the important biological characteristics first, and then concentrates to find the disparities about naming, especially the difference between mountain lion and puma.

Mountain Lion

Mountain lion, Puma concolor, aka Puma or cougar, is a hugely built native cat to the Americas. Mountain lions prefer to live around mountains more often than not. Mountain lions are important animals, being the fourth largest among all the felines. Despite their large size, mountain lions are agile creatures and compete for the same kind of food with other large predators such as jaguars. Heir males are larger than the females. The height of an average adult male is about 75 centimetres at the withers. The measurement between the nose and the base of the tail is about 275 centimetres and their bodyweight could range from 50 to 100 kilograms. An interesting size analysis has been performed related to the living latitude, and it suggests that mountain lions tend to be larger towards the temperate regions and smaller towards the equator. The interesting fact about the mountain lions is that they do not have a larynx and hyoid structures to roar like lions, panthers, or jaguars. However, they could produce low pitch hisses, purrs, growls, whistles, and chirps. Since they cannot roar, mountain lions do not fall under big cat category. Colouration of mountain lions is simple with almost uniform distribution of the yellowish-brown colour coat, but the belly is whiter with little darker patches. In addition, the coat could sometimes be either silvery greyish or reddish without complex stripes. However, the cubs and the adolescents vary in their colouration with spots, as well. There has not been any documented record about sighting a black mountain lion in the literature. The other interesting fact about mountain lions is that they have the largest hind paw among all the felines.


As the introductory paragraph states, both puma and mountain lions possess the same features and characteristics. However, the naming is important to consider here; the name mountain lion is more popular compared to puma. However, the name puma appears to possess some scientific sense, as the zoological naming includes it as the generic name. The name mountain lion is more popular among people, especially in the North America. However, the name puma is more popular in South America, especially in Argentina and other Southern countries. Biologically referring, there are two subspecies related to the name puma they are known as P. c. puma and P. c. cabrerae. In contrast, the name mountain lion is referred to describe P. c. cougar.


Puma and mountain lion are two of the many referred names for the same biological species Puma concolor. However, the main differences include the two names are mainly used in the two continents; mountain lion is popular in North America, but the name puma is popular in Argentina and other Southern South American regions. In addition, puma includes in two subspecies while mountain lion is in one subspecies. However, mountain lion seems more popular than puma.