It has the handsome looks of a lion and the dexterity of a leopard, boasts the largest range in the western hemisphere of the terrestrial mammals and is the second largest cat in the Americas. This attractive and efficient ambush predator can run fast, jump high, climb and swim well. That’s a lot of accolades for the world’s largest small cat (it is apparently not classified as the smallest big cat, although technically…).
The puma, cougar, mountain lion, catamount, call it by any of these names, has yet another trait about which to brag: more names than it can shake a stick at. The Maliseet of New Brunswick call it “pi-twal” (the long-tailed one). English settlers along the Atlantic coast of America originally called it “panther” after animals they had seen in animal shows, zoos and artworks. French explorers called it “carcajou” – a name later given to the wolverine which caused much confusion. Whatever name you choose, the puma undoubtedly punches above its weight class in the wild.