Watch This Fearless House Cat Go Nose-to-Nose With a Mountain Lion

Mountain lion perched on a rock near city with humans
© Warren Metcalf/Shutterstock.com

Written by Sharon Parry

Updated: October 18, 2023

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Some households keep dogs to scare away intruders – be they animal or human. But do you want to see a house cat being braver than a guard dog? And pretty effective too! That’s what you get in this memorable video shot in a house in the mountains outside Julian, California.

Watch This Brave House Kitty Challenge a Cougar!

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Domestic Cats Sees off a Mountain Lion

In this extraordinary display of defensive behavior from a domestic cat, we first see a magnificent mountain lion (cougar) approaching the glazed doors of a house. It seems to be checking out a paved area beyond the glass and then becomes curious about what may be inside. It approaches the glass and peers inside.

Orange/ red mackerel tabby cat

With a series of growls, meows, and hisses, the tabby cat tries to see off the mountain lion.

©iStock.com/Wirestock

However, as far as the family cat is concerned, this is not acceptable behavior. With a series of growls, meows, and hisses, the tabby cat tries to see off the mountain lion. The cat even raises its front paws and swipes at the glass which prompts a hiss from the lion. However, the display be the domestic cat is so extreme that even the mountain lion is taken aback and takes a step away from the window. Both cats now have their ears pinned back and are adopting confrontational body language. The situation deteriorates into a hissing match between the two species. Then, unbelievably, it is the cougar that turns and runs away!

Mountain Lions in California

cougar

Mountain lion numbers in California have been reduced by wildfires

©Evgeniyqw/Shutterstock.com

Mountain lions, (also called cougars, pumas, and panthers) are a large member of the Felidae family and are native to Central, North, and South America. However, they are not found in the wild in all US states. They are secretive animals and live in remote regions so counting their exact numbers is not easy. Nevertheless, it is thought that California has one of the largest mountain lion populations in the US. The hunting of mountain lions has been banned here since 1972 but the wildfires of more recent years have reduced their numbers significantly.

Cougars do not roar like lions. The noises that they make are very similar to domestic cats which may be why this cougar looks so confused at first when it hears the little cat on the other side of the glass. Also, cougars look very like a large house cat with a similar shaped head and body. They are opportunistic hunters and eat a variety of prey. As human populations encroach on their habitats it is inevitable that they will come into contact with domestic pets and it will not always end as well as this encounter did!

Is it Normal for Mountain Lions to Approach Homes?

Deadliest Animals in America

Cougars are large cats, and although not usually aggressive, have been involved in attacks on humans as well as causing death.

©iStock.com/SandmanXX

Big cats like mountain lions are generally wary of people and tend to avoid them. However, due to population growth and their territory dwindling in some areas, they will venture into human areas. Quite often, humans have encroached on the mountain lions’ territory and these cats are simply navigating through what they have deemed their area. They are also known to return to urban areas when they know there is a source of food close by. Hunger is one of the main reasons they may venture into these locations. Pets, like cats, can be seen as another food source and should always be kept indoors when they can’t be supervised.

Experts advise that there is no cause for concern with one sighting but if it is a repeat visitor, there are ways to protect yourself and your pets from such wildlife. Being mindful of your surroundings is key.

How Large Are Mountain Lions?

Mountain lion standing on thick tree branch

The largest documented mountain lion was an unusually large cat that weighed 276 pounds.

©Geoffrey Kuchera/Shutterstock.com

Like many mammal species, males tend to be larger than the females. The male mountain lion can grow up to eight feet in length, with an average weight of up to 150 pounds. Females are slightly smaller and grow up to seven feet in length, with weights averaging 90 pounds. The largest documented mountain lion was an unusually large cat that weighed 276 pounds.


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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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