Puma / Mountain Lion / Cougar (Puma concolor) - Puma Genus and Lineage
Florida Panther By Larry W. Richardson U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The adaptable Puma (Puma concolor) is also known as the Cougar, Mountain Lion and Panther among many other names. Pumas are widespread from Canada through North and Central America to South America, but have disappeared from many regions within this vast range due to persecution.

Puma Lineage

1. Puma / Mountain Lion (Puma concolor)

2. Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)

3. Jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi)

Key Facts about Pumas

~ Plain coat - no spots / stripes ~

~ Vast range in W Hemisphere ~

~ Over 40 common names ~

Puma (Puma concolor) Classification

Pumas belong to the genus Puma and the full taxonomy or scientific classification of the Puma cat species is:

Kingdom: Animalia (animals)

 Phylum: Chordata (vertebrates)

  Class: Mammalia (mammals)

Order: Carnivora (carnivores)

Suborder: Feliformia (cat-like)

Family: Felidae (cats)

Subfamily: Felinae (small cats)

Genus: Puma

Species: Puma concolor (puma / cougar / mountain lion)


P.c. cougar
P.c. costaricensis

P.c. capricornensis
P.c. concolor
P.c. cabrerae
P.c. puma

The scientific name for the Puma or Cougar or Mountain Lion is Puma concolor which is also known as the binomial name, species name, latin name, biological name or zoological name. Some use the term 'botanical name' however that term is only applicable to the plant kingdom (botany) and not the animal kingdom (zoology).

Puma - Cougar - Mountain Lion (Puma concolor) Classification Diagram
Click chart to download.
Permission to use for personal or educational use.
Credit: www.wildcatfamily.com.

Side view of a Patagonian puma

Puma (Puma concolor) Subspecies

Lower Classifications

Based on genetic studies referenced in the last taxonomic revision of Felidae in 2017, six subspecies of Pumas are recognized:

Puma concolor cougar - North America
Puma concolor costaricensis - Central America

Puma concolor capricornensis - South America - eastern
Puma concolor concolor - South America - northern
Puma concolor cabrerae - South America - central
Puma concolor puma - South America - southern

Puma Conservation

The global conservation status of Pumas is Least Concern (LC) although some subpopulations are considered threatened.

The following organizations are actively protecting the declining populations of Pumas. Projects include facilitating recolonization and dealing with new threats of road barriers and roadkill in built up areas in North America.

Felidae Conservation Fund - San Francisco Puma Project

Friends of the Florida Panther Refuge

Panthera - Puma Program: Yellowstone, California, Chile

Please support these organizations with their important work if you can. No matter the size of your contribution, every bit helps!

Past Projects:

Urban Carnivores - Mountain Lions Los Angeles


Puma / Cougar / Mountain Lion with kitten drinking at rivers edge

Female puma / cougar / mountain lion in habitat

Puma Facts and Information

The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on pumas  / mountain lions / cougars:


Big Cat Documentary:

Preview The Secret Lives of Big Cats filmed using high tech starlight and thermal imaging night cameras to capture previously unrecorded behavior. The series includes seven episodes on the secret lives of Lions, Tigers, Jaguars, Leopards, Snow Leopards, Pumas and Cheetahs. Produced by CuriosityStream.

Puma (Puma concolor) Research

Here are some papers published on Pumas / Cougars / Mountain Lions. Click on the title bar to view the abstract and the link to the article.

View more articles on Puma concolor  in the IUCN Cat Specialist Group database (scroll down once the library page is loaded to see the list).

Consider joining the Friends of the Cat Specialist Group to access the full articles and receive their journal Cat News covering the latest wild cat research.

Moutain Lion Trips South America

Puma Tours South America

The following organizations offer tours to South America where you are likely to see Pumas in their natural habitat. These companies offer small group experiences, support conservation projects, and indicate their trips are environmentally and ethically responsible:

Always bear in mind that sightings of any particular animal in its natural environment are not guaranteed and the experience of guides will greatly enhance your success.

Books about Pumas / Cougars / Mountain Lions

Most of these books also have Kindle Editions.