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Mountain Lion Size Comparison: How Do They Compare to Humans?

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Mountain Lion Size Comparison vs Bob Cat House Cats and Dogs
Cougars are one of the largest cats in the Americas.

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Whether you call it a cougar, puma, or ghost cat, there's no denying that the puma is a pretty big cat — even though they're not big cats. Native to North and South America, these stealthy predators can be found almost anywhere in the Western Hemisphere. However, despite all this, you may not know exactly how big they are. That's where cougar size comparisons like this one come in.

If you've never seen a cougar face to face (hope you haven't!), then you probably don't know how big a cougar is. After all, it's hard to tell from pictures alone if they're just a little bigger than a normal house cat, or as big as a real lion.

This cougar size comparison is designed to give you a better idea of how big a cougar is from a safe distance. By comparing them to humans, domestic cats, bobcats and even dogs, this quick read will help you understand just how big one of America's largest feral cats is.

How big is a cougar?

Mountain lions can reach up to three feet at the shoulder!

© Stephen Lea / Creative Commons

Have you ever seen that comic punchline where two kids in trench coats act like grown-ups? If you want to get a good idea of how big a cougar is, imagine but with about 3 Maine Coon cats.

At the shoulders, a mountain lion is 2 to 3 feet tall. However, their surprising property comes from their length. At eight feet long from nose to tail, the cougar rivals some of the largest big cats, including leopards, lions and tigers.

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Despite their large size, cougars tend to be quite light. It's a combination of their primary diet of deer and their need for quiet and privacy. A healthy adult cougar can weigh as little as 64 pounds or as much as 220 pounds, so there is wide variation in the overall average size of a cougar.

Such a large body needs big feet to support it. Cougars have round, asymmetrical feet that rarely show claws in the footprints they leave. On average, their feet are nearly 4 inches in diameter.

Humans and. Mountain Lion Size Comparison

Mountain Lion Size Comparison with Bob Cat House Cats and Dogs
Cougars can be taller than humans on their hind legs.

© AZ-Animals.com

Thankfully, until the day they learn to walk entirely on their hind legs, you won't have to worry about eye-catching mountain lions in the woods. Unless, of course, you're a three-year-old.

Still, at three feet at the shoulder, mountain lions are intimidating. For the average adult, you can expect them to reach your knees, give or take. While it's easier to find smaller cougars, especially in areas with fewer deer herds or during the colder months, you may still spot some that are lighter than you. After all, a 220-pound cougar can weigh as much as a washing machine.

If you lie next to a cougar, even some of the tallest people won't come close to their 8-foot length. However, their tails alone are 3 feet long, which means you could be as tall as their body length, if not taller.

Humans and cougars are nearly equal when it comes to holding hands, with the cougar's paws being an inch or so larger than a human's.

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Cats fight. mountain lion size

cat lying on leather sofa
Even the largest domestic cat is no match for the cougar.

© iStock.com/FediushkinaElena

While you may already know how the cougar is compared to the house cat (remember our trench coat analogy), the Maine Coon is one of the larger house cats and is not "average."

The average domestic cat is between 9 and 10 inches tall—much shorter than a Maine Coon and much shorter than a Cougar. In fact, it would take nearly 4 or more house cats to reach the same height as a cougar. While the average domestic cat can reach 18 inches (about 1.5 feet) in length, it's still no match for the 8-foot-long giant cougar. If you put them side by side, the typical cat would look like a cougar cub (or their dinner!).

As for weight, even the largest house cats usually weigh less than 20 pounds, with the average being between 7 and 9 pounds. This means that even the smallest adult cougar needs close to 10 house cats to balance. Talk about cats who meow too much.

While domestic cats have the same paw shape as their wild family members, their feet tend to be only about 1 inch in diameter. That's a quarter the size of a cougar.

Lynx vs. mountain lion size

what eats snakes
Bobcats are one of the most fearless felines in nature, but not the largest.

© iStock.com/John Pitcher

If you're not familiar with the wildcats of the Americas, it's actually easy to confuse the two ferocious cats. This is especially true if you can't see the bobcat's snitch tail. However, one thing that sets bobcats and cougars apart is their size differences.

As bobcats gradually made their way onto common media platforms, many began to refer to them as "friend-type" wildcats. The nickname couldn't be further from the truth.

Bobcats are thick and fluffy and can weigh up to 40 pounds. They're also only about 2 feet tall at the shoulder and 3 feet long, making them about the same size as a Maine Coon. However, despite its small size, the lynx is one of the top terrestrial predators in the Western Hemisphere, feeding on small mammals including rodents and juvenile big game.

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And, like regular house cats, bobcats are a fraction of the size of mountain lions.

Dog than. mountain lion size

Siberian husky sticks out tongue and sits near a bush
With so many breeds of dog, do you know what the standard is for a cougar?

©Ksenia Raykova/Shutterstock.com

While we spent some time comparing cougars to other cats, do you know how they compare to dogs?

Some breeds, like Chihuahuas or Dachshunds, look like chew toys on the side of a mountain. After all, these small breeds are often under 10 inches tall, barely bigger than a cougar's legs. In terms of weight, the maximum healthy weight for up to 10 small dogs is the same as the smallest adult cougar.

However, some dogs are bred with cougars in mind. Breeds like the Anatolian Shepherd Dog have a long history in the livestock community, where shepherds need an extra hand (or paw) to tend to their flocks, especially when confronted by predators like mountain lions when. Anatolian Shepherds stand more than 2 1/2 feet tall at the shoulder and can weigh up to 140 pounds, putting them on par with mountain lions.


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about the author

megan martin

I'm a writer with almost five years of experience. I recently graduated from Wingate University with a BA in English Literature and a double minor in Biology and Professional Technical Writing. I love everything to do with animals and nature! The American kestrel is my favorite animal, but I also love sharks and alligators. In my free time, I enjoy watching documentaries and exploring nature.

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