Cougar Poop: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Published: September 15, 2022
Image Credit Evgeniyqw/Shutterstock.com
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The cougar is a mammal of the genus Puma and the Felidae family. Known scientifically as the Felis concolor, the animal is native to North America and is the second largest cat on the continent. It has a reputation for having myriads of names including mountain lion, puma, red tiger, and catamount, among others. Besides being the most polyonymous animal, the cougar, like most other cougars, poops and it is a frequent activity for them. In this article, we shall be providing concise yet explicit details about the cougar’s poop. Stay tuned. 

What Do Cougars Poop Look Like?

cougar poop
Cougar poop often comes out segmented but may be compact in some cases.

Peggy Hazelwood/Shutterstock.com

As we mentioned before, cougars, like most other animals, engage in the needful activity of pooping. Cougar poop often comes out segmented but may be compact in some cases. The segments are often rounded at the end, and some ends can be more pointy than others. The scat, when segmented, looks like curved cords or round balls and it can be anywhere from 5 to 15 inches long. Colors vary depending on the last piece of food they had, but they usually come in grayish-white, brown or black. 

In a typical cougar scat, you are likely to find hair, bones, and scraps of grass, which is a testament to their predominantly carnivorous diet. 

How Do Cougars Poop?

Cougars have a short digestive system because of their innate ability to metabolize proteins with so much ease. Feeding starts in the mouth with the help of other parts like lips, teeth, and tongue. Then you have the esophagus, pancreas, small and large intestines, stomach, pancreas, liver, and salivary glands all of which work together to process food and digest nutrients. The indigestible parts are eliminated as waste through the anus located at the cougar’s hindquarters. When doing its business, the mountain lion typically lowers its butt a bit and holds onto the ground with its paws for balance. They have also been observed to poop while walking which leaves their poop scattered all over the place. 

Where Do Cougars Poop?

cougar
Cougars often poop in caves.

Susan E. Viera/Shutterstock.com

Cougars typically poop in central areas and they often do their business in caves, beneath cliffs/rock walls, in rivulets, near scrapes, and in the middle of trails or dirt roads. They are known to frequently leave their scat in the middle of dirt roads as a way of marking territory and warding off trespassers. 

Why Is Cougar Poop So Big?

As we mentioned before, cougar scat often measures between 5-15 inches long and they are about 1¼ inch in diameter. Their poop is usually this big because of their wild, voracious appetite which allows them to consume up to 30 pounds of food in one sitting.  More on the cougar’s diet in a bit. 

What Do Cougars Eat?

cougar eating
Cougars include animals like birds, squirrels, deer, and coyotes in their diet.

The Len/Shutterstock.com

As we mentioned before, mountain lions are carnivorous through and through. For good health and vibrancy, they require a lot of protein in their diet, and what better way to get protein than from raw meat? They have a very diverse diet range that includes small animals like birds, marmots, insects, squirrels, rabbits, and mice and larger animals like deer, coyotes, bighorn sheep, antelope, raccoons, elk, feral horses, black bears, and caribous

Young mountain lion cubs are more likely to go for the smaller animals while adults hunt down the larger ones. However, the adult cougars might be forced to settle for smaller prey when they are unsuccessful with the big ones. They, however, have been noted by experts to prefer mule deer, elks, beavers, badgers, and coyotes. They sometimes eat up to 20-30 pounds of meat at a time and to put that in perspective, we’ll have you know that the most voracious humans only down about 4 pounds of food daily at the most. Given this incredible range, it is no wonder one would often find hairs and bones in their scats. 

Do Cougars Bury Their Poop?

Cougars are part of a long list of land animals who sometimes cover their feces after pooping. Scientists believe this is a natural inclination that can be traced back to a period when they were hunted by larger cats. Burying the poop helps to reduce the odor and it is an act of stealth attributed to many cats. 

However, as we mentioned before, cougars may also leave their fecal waste uncovered as a way of marking their territories. They do this by scraping up and gathering a pile of dirt after which they defecate on it; a clear sign for other cats to keep off. 

Do Cougars Poop Smell?

Cougars have a reputation for ejecting large-sized poops with a pungent smell that can travel pretty far. If you come across a mountain lion’s poop, you’ll feel the smell and you’ll feel it strongly. Now it might not be as malodorous as human poop but it’s still pretty bad. The cougars themselves subtly acknowledge this by occasionally burying their poop as a  way of keeping the odor down. 

Is Cougar Pool Harmful?

Mountain lions are not very friendly to humans and it’s best not to go near them as they have been responsible for some human fatalities in the past. Besides their aggressiveness, contact with cougar poop can also be pretty harmful to humans as it may contain toxic parasites like toxoplasmosis and bartonellosis. 

One way to forestall contacting these infections is by staying away from cougars and their poop as much as possible. And if somehow, you find yourself handling a piece of puma scat, we advise washing your hands thoroughly afterward.

Difference Between Cougar Poop And Bobcat Poop

Cougars and bobcats are very similar in that they are both generalist carnivores and are from the same family, Felidae. They are also both native to North America and have striking similarities in their coloration and swimming abilities. 

However, mountain lions are much larger than bobcats amidst many other differences. One such difference is seen in their respective scats. While both animals often eject segmented poop, the cougar scat is round and rope-like while the bobcat’s scat is tubular. Bobcat scat is also shorter in diameter than cougar scat. 

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