The large North American cat goes by a number of names, including cougar, puma, mountain
lion, panther, and catamount (short for cat of the mountains). Cougars range from the
southernmost part of South America to areas in Alaska and the Yukon. Populations seem to
be increasing along eastern North America as well, based on several sightings by locals.

Cougars are highly adaptable animals, and can live in a variety of environments ranging from
swamps to forests and mountains. Only a bit smaller than the jaguar, the cougar is the second
largest cat in the Americas. Lithe and low-slung, the cougar looks as if a small-cat head was
placed on a big-cat body. The average weight for males is 160 pounds, while females average
90-135 pounds. Its coat varies from tan to dark brown, and its underparts are often white. A
long, thick tail provides balance during leaps and climbs.

Like all big cats, the cougar is a symbol of leadership. In some Native American tribes, it
is a totem symbolizing balanced leadership. One source describes a cougar totem that is
associated with a controlled use of power; the ability to successfully lead without force.
Cougar totems were described as avoiding abuse of power; to be nurturing as a mother with
kittens while also powerful as an adult on the hunt.

To the Big Cats