Can You Own A Cougar As Pet? Is it legal?

Can you have a cougar as a pet? Everyone wants to own the fascinating big wild cats, be it Cougar, Panthers, or Mountain Lions. Not only that, but many people already have them. But is it really worth it? No, owning a Pet Cougar or other similar Wild cat isn’t worth it. Even if it is legal in your region or you can possess them easily, never consider domesticating a Cougar.

At the end of the day, it is a wild animal whom humans can only tame but not domesticate. A Cougar may accustom to the human environment and domestic living, but its wild instinct will never go away.

A cougar is a wild animal and should be treated as such. Here is more on their possession and domestication.

Can you own a Cougar? Is it legal?

Despite how dangerous wild cats can prove, many U.S. states do not regulate possessing them. Similarly, to your surprise, many states in the U.S. allow owning cougars as a pet, while others prohibit their ownership of them.

Besides different laws in different states, the regional authorities (local government) of the different areas contribute to regulating exotic pet ownership. For instance, even when the state allows it, some cities have still banned possession of Cougar as pets. 

On the other hand, in states and countries where Cougars are legal as pets, individuals have to go through a strict licensing process. It may include a background verification check, submission of multiple documentation, and much more.

Some authorities even ask for the study of zoology and hands-on real-time experience (with Cougars) before releasing the license. And even after that, licensing may take multiple months and sometimes even years to pass.

Can You Own A Pet Cougar

USA State list where Cougars are legal/ Illegal to own

  • Missouri: Legal, but a permit is necessary though Cougars must be registered to the county it is held in.
  • Montana: Legal, but a permit is necessary. 
  • Nevada: Legal with no licenses or permits required.
  • North Carolina: Both legal and Illegal. Cities and Counties in North Carolina may have different laws. 
  • South Carolina: There are no state laws concerning the ownership of big cats.
  • North Dakota: Legal, but a permit is necessary. 
  • South Dakota: Legal, but a permit and veterinarian’s examination are necessary.
  • Alabama: Legal with no licenses or permits required.
  • Delaware: Legal, but a permit is necessary. 
  • Indiana: Legal, but a permit is necessary. 
  • Maine: Legal, but a permit is necessary. 
  • Mississippi: Legal, but a permit is necessary. 
  • Oklahoma: Legal, but a permit is necessary.
  • Pennsylvania: Legal, but a permit is necessary.
  • Rhode Island: Legal, but a permit is necessary. 
  • Texas: Legal, but a permit is necessary.
  • Utah: Legal, but a permit is necessary.
  • Wisconsin: No restrictions on owning Cougars and other exotic pets.

Except for the above-classified states, no other U.S. States allow keeping cougars or other similar wild cats as a pet.

What Is a Cougar? Overview and History

Cougar is a large wild cat, the second largest in the Western Hemisphere after Jaguars. Other cats, including puma or mountain lion, or panther, are of a similar species and often counted with Cougars.

Cougar is native to America and is spread from the southern Andes in South America to the Canadian Yukon. It is undoubtedly the most widespread of any large wild terrestrial mammal in the New World. 

Cougars are both nocturnal and crepuscular, and thus individuals have a high craze for spotting them in the wild. These wild cats are territorial and prefer living in low population densities. In the wild, they are found in dense underbrush and rocky areas though at times even in open areas. 

Cougar History: According to research, Cougars evolved approximately 11 million years ago as part of the feline family. They originally evolved in parts of Asia, but about 8.5 million years ago, they crossed to America, using the Bering Land Bridge alongside many other animals. For many centuries, the only threat for Cougars was illness.

However, after the early 1500s, human intervention became one common threat. Still today, even in the 21st century, Cougars are of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, and there are many of them in the wild. 

Do Cougars Make Good Pets? Can you have Cougars as pets?

Cougars or any other big cats are the most wrong pets one can have. Their natural wild instinct would never allow them to be a good pet, no matter for how long you own them. Remember, a Cougar can be tamed but never be domestication.

Unlike domestic animals who have been amongst humans for centuries now, Cougars are still meant to survive their best life in the wild.

They, though, will eventually grow accustomed to their owners but never turn loving and adorable as a dog or cat.

That is why it is better to avoid the idea of owning a pet Cougar, no matter whether it is legal or easy in your region.

Cougar Species Taxonomy Chart

NameCougar
Other NamesPuma, Catamount, Panther, Mountain lions
Scientific NamesPuma concolor
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
Order and SuborderCarnivora and Feliformia
Family and SubfamilyFelidae and Felinae
GenusPuma
SpeciesP. concolor
SizeHeight: 60 – 90 cm (Adult, At Shoulder)
Length: 2.4 m (Male, Adult), 2 m (Female, Adult)
Mass: 53 – 100 kg (Male, Adult), 29 – 64 kg (Female, Adult)
Lifespan8 to 13 years in the wild

Cougar Habitat Needs

Cougars in the wild can survive in a wide variety of habitats. They may be present in mountainous terrain or rocky outcrops or found in coniferous forests and swamps. Depending upon which area they are native to, Cougars can affect habitat in different ecosystems. 

In captivity, they need a huge, at least half acre’s area, fully covered from all sides and above. Their enclosure must contain different forest ornaments, including trees, bushes, rocky outcrops, small ponds, and more. 

Cougar Temperature and Humidity Needs

Cougars can survive in different climatic and temperature considerations. However, maintaining 30 to 70% humidity in their enclosure is a must.

Cougar Dietary Needs

Cougars are Carnivorous, and a major part of their diet includes meat. They prey upon different animals, and their hunting abilities are a mix of strength, intelligence, and ability.

Their main prey includes deer, moose, bighorn sheep, coyotes, beavers, porcupines, mice, marmots, raccoons, hares, and elk. They thought they prey upon smaller animals but would not hesitate to kill a larger one as well.

Cougars in captivity fed on meat offerings. One has to leave animal carcasses inside their enclosure, and they will eat them as and when they feel hungry.

Their daily feed in Zoos includes 25 percent fresh organs and 75 percent pre-bagged horsemeat. It is what individual Cougars owners should follow as well. 

Common Health Problems with Cougars

Cougars are less likely to suffer from diseases during their lifetime. However, in the wild, during a conflict with other animals, they might develop infections or carry rabies due to decaying injuries. They rarely carry any communicable diseases that might harm humans.

NOTE: Finding a well-trained and experienced Vet for Cougars is a tricky task. There are not many individuals who are willing to and capable of treating different diseases and illnesses in Cougars.

You might find such experts only near or inside a Zoo facility (in case it has any wild cats). Thus before owning them as pets, make sure you can provide them with emergency medical care. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of owning a pet Cougar

Well, while Advantages are difficult to pin down, there are multiple disadvantages of owning a pet Cougar. Here are a few of them:

  • First of all, many attributes prevent it from being domesticated.
  • Cougars have a slow growth rate; thus, if you own them for breeding, it might test your patience.
  • They need a huge and well build enclosure which can cause a lot of area along with a fortune.
  • Their specific diet makes feeding them extremely expensive.
  • Owning a Cougar means having them at a distance, and unlike dogs and cats, you can’t touch, cuddle or pet them.
  • Finding a Vet for Cougars is difficult since they are very few of them around. And even if they are, you have to ensure the vet can visit your place, as taking a Cougar for Vet visit is in no way a possible solution. 
  • Despite years of domesticating, Cougars can bring out their wild instincts at any time.

Fun Cougar Facts- Did you know?

  • A cougar can jump upward 18 feet right from its sitting position. Whereas horizontally, it can leap up to 40 feet in one go.
  • Cougars’ vision spans around 130 degrees and has an average sprinting speed of 56 kilometers an hour.
  • While chasing their prey, Cougars can run up to 72 kilometers per hour.
  • Cougars can’t roar like lions; thus, they aren’t considered big wild cats. Though for calling, they make human-like screams.
  • Cougar’s large paws and tails help them balance their bodies.
  • Cougar holds a Guinness World Record for having the highest number of names (other names or nicknames). They are recognized by over 40 names in different parts of the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Cougars friendly with other wild animals?

No, Cougars aren’t friendly with other wild animals; instead, they would stand on the role of predator for many.

Can Cougars attack humans? Are Cougars friendly with humans?

Cougars are dangerous to humans, and they can rip you apart in one go. Individuals who live in rural areas or near any National Forest are more likely at risk of these cats.

How much does a Cougar Cost?

A Cougar Kitten will cost $900 or above easily.

Where to buy a Cougar? Where to find a Cougar breeder?

Cougars are slightly difficult to breed and, thus, are less likely to find their breeder. You have to contact the wildlife department and exotic pet sellers (certified) in order to gather more information.

Wrapping up…

Ownership of animals like Cougars is a status symbol for many but a pain for the poor pet.

Unless you are well versed and educated about keeping an exotic pet, you are just contributing to making Cougar’s life hell.

Instead of possessing them, it is better to go and watch a Cougar either at Zoos or in the wild. You can also contribute to their welfare by being a volunteer at a different center.

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