Cougar – Many Names

illustration of cougar by Ravenari


Going by many names, the significance and insignificance of a name, power and grace, preferring to stay private, being secretive by nature, hiding your projects and things that are important to you, not being boastful, competing with other big personalities for career, a connection to sky deities, the ability to snag large opportunities quite easily, being capable of great physical power, athletics and fitness, looking after yourself, a connection to many different sacred environments, possibly being drawn to more than one spiritual system.

General Description:

The cougar – an obligate carnivore found in the Americas – is a large, solitary feline also commonly known as the mountain lion, puma or panther, and holds the Guinness World Record for having the most common names of any other animal. Colouring is variable, even among individuals. They are athletic, and have exceptional jumping ability, a powerful sprint (55-72 kmh), and are adept at climbing. They are found in every major habitat type in their range, though they often prefer dense vegetation or rocky cover for the stalk-and-ambush hunting techniques. An accomplished predator, they feed on ungulates (including livestock), other mammals, insects, rodents (including the capybara), reptiles and birds. They kill primarily with a bite to the neck, which suffocates or breaks the spinal cord. They are known to compete with other predators (bears, wolves and jaguars), and are not dominant apex predators, despite their size. They typically hide their kills, returning to a covered spot over a period of days.

They are typically silent, cannot roar, and will usually communicate in hisses, growls, chirps, whistles, purrs and occasional screams. Females raise their offspring alone, and are protective of their cubs, fighting off animals much larger than themselves. Offspring establish their territories at around 2 years, though males will do so earlier. Males are larger than females, and maintain a territory that overlaps with the territories of several females; they will posture, fight and sometimes even kill each other to defend their territories. They live around 8-13 years in the wild, but can live up to 20 years in captivity, with some exceptions living even longer. They are secretive animals, most active at dawn and dusk. They’ve been considered sacred in many different cultures/nations across the Americas. The Incans have associated the cougar with sky and thunder. The Apache and Walapai hold that the cougar scream is a signal of death. They will attack humans on an infrequent basis, though they are on the increase due to increased encounters as humans expand into their environments. Cougars are still hunted for sport.