Whether you call it a puma, cougar, or ghost cat, there’s no denying that the mountain lion is a pretty big cat – although they’re not a big cat. Native to North and South America, these stealthy predators can be found almost anywhere in the western hemisphere. However, despite this, you may not know exactly just how large they are. That’s where a mountain lion size comparison like this comes in hand.
If you’ve never seen one face to face (and hopefully you won’t!), then you may not know how big a mountain lion is. After all, from pictures alone, it can be difficult to tell whether they’re just slightly larger than your average house cat or if they’re the size of an actual lion.
This mountain lion size comparison is designed to give you the best idea of how big a mountain lion is from a safe distance. By comparing them to humans, house cats, bobcats, and even dogs, this quick read will help you learn how big one of the biggest wild cats in America is.
How Big Is A Mountain Lion?
Have you ever seen the comedic punchline of two children in a trenchcoat acting like an adult? If you want a clear idea of how big a mountain lion is, imagine that but with around 3 Maine Coon cats instead.
At the shoulder, a mountain lion is anywhere from 2 to 3 feet tall. However, their surprising attribute comes from their length. At 8 feet long from nose to tail, mountain lions rival some of the biggest big cats, including leopards, lions, and tigers.
Despite their large size, mountain lions tend to be fairly light. This is a combination of their mainly deer diet and their need to be quiet and stealthy. A healthy adult mountain lion can weigh as little as 64 pounds or as much as 220 pounds, creating a large diversity in the overall average mountain lion size.
Such a big body needs big feet to support it. Mountain lions have round, asymmetrical feet that rarely show the claws in the prints they leave behind. On average, their feet have a diameter of almost 4 inches.
Human Vs. Mountain Lion Size Comparison
Thankfully, until the day they learn to walk solely on their hind legs, you won’t need to worry about meeting a mountain lion eye to eye in the woods. Unless you’re a three-year-old of course.
At three feet at the shoulders, mountain lions can be intimidating nonetheless. For the average adult human, you can expect that they’ll come up to about your knee, give or take. While it’s more likely to find smaller mountain lions, especially in areas with low deer populations or during the colder months, you may still find some that easily outweigh you. After all, at 220 pounds, mountain lions can weigh as much as a washing machine.
If you were to lay down beside a mountain lion, even some of the tallest people wouldn’t come close to meeting their 8-foot length. Just their tail alone can be 3 feet, though, meaning you may be as taller, or even taller, than their body length.
When it comes to holding hands, a human and a mountain lion are almost equal, with the mountain lion having a paw just an inch or so bigger than a human hand.
House Cat Vs. Mountain Lion Size
While you may already have an idea of how a mountain lion measures up to a house cat (remember our trench coat analogy), Maine Coons are one of the larger house cats and don’t do the “average” justice.
The average house cat is between 9 and 10 inches tall – much shorter than the Maine Coon and much shorter than a mountain lion. In fact, it would take nearly 4, if not more, house cats to equal the same height as a mountain lion. While the average house cat can be 18 inches in length, or around a foot and a half, it’s still no comparison to the 8-foot giant that is the mountain lion. If you were to place them side by side, a typical cat would look like a mountain lion’s cub (or their dinner!).
As for weight, even the largest house cats are under 20 pounds typically, and the average is anywhere from 7 to 9 pounds. This means that, even with the smallest adult mountain lion, you would need nearly 10 house cats to balance the scale. Talk about too meow-ny cats.
While house cats have the same paw shape as their wild family members, their feet tend to only be around 1 inch in diameter. That’s a quarter of the size of a mountain lion’s.
Bobcat Vs. Mountain Lion Size
If you’re unfamiliar with the wild cats of the Americas, it can actually be easy to mix up these two fierce felines. This is especially true if you can’t see the bobcat’s tell-tale tail. However, one thing that sets the bobcat and mountain lion apart is their size difference.
As bobcats have weaseled their way onto common media platforms, many people have taken to calling them the “friend-shaped” wild cat. And this nickname isn’t too far from the truth.
Bobcats are thick, fluffy, and weigh only a maximum of 40 pounds. They’re also only around 2 feet tall at the shoulders and 3 feet long, making them around the same size as a Maine Coon cat. Despite their small size, however, bobcats are one of the top land predators in the western hemisphere, with a diet of small mammals including rodents and juvenile large game.
And, much like the average house cat, bobcats are only a fraction of the size of the mountain lion.
Dog Vs. Mountain Lion Size
While we’ve spent some time comparing mountain lions to other felines, do you know how they’ll compare to dogs?
Some breeds, such as the Chihuahua or Dachsund, will look like chew toys beside a mountain. After all, with heights usually under 10 inches, these small dog breeds are hardly bigger than a mountain lion’s leg. And when it comes to weight, it can take as many as 10 small dogs at their maximum healthy weight to equal the same as the smallest adult mountain lions.
However, some dogs were bred with mountain lions in mind. Breeds like the Anatolian shepherd have a history in livestock communities where shepherds needed an extra hand (or paw) tending to their flocks, especially when it came to predators like the mountain lion. The Anatolian shepherd is more than 2 and a half feet tall at the shoulders and weighs up to 140 pounds, making them a close match for the mountain lion.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Kwadrat/Shutterstock.com
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.