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What Do Cougars Eat?

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The cougar’s cage is always a popular stop point in zoos and animal enclosures because these big cats are so beautiful.  As you look into their huge eyes, you will probably feel your heart rate increase and a chill slithering down your spine.  These feelings are your human instincts kicking in because your subconscious realizes all too well that the animal you are gazing at is a dangerous animal that can easily overpower you and other animals up to 500kg.

Cougars are members of the Felidae family and are also well known under a variety of names such as the puma, mountain lion, panther, and catamount because they are found in various regions. Pumas prefer to live in habitats with lots of underbrush and rocky parts that they can use for stalking their prey.

What Do Cougars Eat?

These carnivores are predatory cats that rely on protein-rich food such as meat for their survival.  Their bodies are unable to digest plant matter but they do still ingest some of the nutrients found in plant matter based on the foods their prey eats.

Cougars enjoy hunting a vast range of animal species.  Here is a quick look at some of their favorite foods.


The prey cougars eat don’t have enough fluids to sustain these animals.  They still require fresh water to stay hydrated.  Cougars can go for several days without water but they will eventually need to drink water.

Large Animals

Cougars eat a variety of large animals but deer seems to be their favorite because this is the animal they catch most frequently.  Cougars love various deer species but they are particularly fond of the mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, and bull moose.  These huge cats usually only kill one animal at a time and will then be content for several days before hunting again.

Small Animals

If large animals are not available, cougars will also focus on hunting smaller animals.  These cats enjoy hunting and eating a huge variety of smaller animals like rabbits, rodents, porcupines, foxes, mice, and raccoons.  Many believe that beavers are one of their favorite small animals to eat.

Cougars will also hunt other predatory animals like coyotes if they are very hungry.  They may also make prey of domestic animals like cats and dogs and these big cats are quite fond of livestock like sheep, goats, young calves, turkeys, and poultry.


Cougars also enjoy eating insects.  Insects are a valuable source of protein in harsh conditions when there isn’t much prey available to them.  Insects like grasshoppers, certain beetles, crickets, and a few other types they might find crawling about.


These animals prefer a fresh kill and fresh meat but they will also feed on carrion meat if they cannot make a kill themselves.  Cougars are known to take over carcasses from other predatory species and they might even prey on other predatory animals while taking over a kill.

Diet Variations

The biggest diet variation cougars have is that they sometimes consume insects.  These animals cannot digest other foods such as plant matter.  Without animals to prey on, they will starve.

Cougars and other cat species are sometimes spotted chewing on grass.  The reason behind this behavior is still unclear.  Some believe that cats simply enjoy the taste and texture of grass.  Others believe that grass supplies them with needed folic acid nutrients.  And some believe that cats chew on grass to help them throw up so they can solve painful tummy issues.

How to Feed Cougars

Cougars are powerful wild cats that can take down animals that weigh over 500kg.  Such a cat will have no trouble overpowering and killing a human.  They are dangerous animals that are best left at peace.

In most cases, these animals will only kill a single animal.  But if they happen to find a large herd, they can easily get carried away and might kill multiple animals.  They have been known to kill large numbers of livestock at once even though they might only feed on one animal.

These animals are usually fed by leaving animal carcasses out for them to feed on.  In zoos, cougars are fed by offering them carrion meat regularly. On rare occasions, cougars might even be supplied with live bait such as rabbits.

What do Cougars Eat in the Wild?

In the wild, these animals prefer rocky habitats where they can blend in with their surroundings.  Cougars will catch and eat just about any animal of suitable size that they can find.  They will catch any young animal of large animal species, any small animal they happen to find or any bird species they might get.  They also feed on carrion meat from carcasses they might find.

What do Cougars Eat in Captivity?

In captivity, these animals are usually fed a balanced diet of poultry and other meats.  Poultry is a very good food source since chickens are easy to come by but these animals can be offered just about any other meat source that might be available in the region.

What do Baby Cougars Eat?

Baby cougars are called cubs.  Some people may also refer to them as kittens.  These animals are mammals and rely on their mother for survival.  Female cougars usually birth three to four cubs.  The cubs are born blind and deaf.  They will stay in their nursery for several weeks until they are big enough to start exploring their environment.

Cougar kittens or cubs need to suckle on their mothers for 7 – 8 weeks.  From this point on, they will start to eat small pieces of prey their mother brings back to the nursery.  They are weaned from 2 – 3 months and will then start accompanying their mother on hunting expeditions where they will learn to hunt for their own food.

These animals reach adulthood between 3 – 5 years old but will leave their mothers to fend for themselves from the age of 2.

How much do Cougars Eat?

These cats are pretty big and need a lot of food.  An average adult mountain lion needs about 8 – 10 pounds of meat per day.  They can survive for a few days on end without food but will then gorge on more meat during a single feeding.

How often do Cougars Eat?

Cougars prefer to feed every day.  They enjoy the thrill of the hunt and will put themselves out there to hunt and feed even if they are not excessively hungry.  In captivity, they are however usually fed every 2 – 3 days so these animals will have enough time to digest their food.

Do Cougars Attack Humans?

These animals are not very likely to attack a human even if they encounter one.  Mountain lions may however attack humans if they feel threatened, if they are very hungry or if they feel territorial over their nurseries.  Fleeing humans might also stimulate cougar’s instincts to hunt even if these animals are not particularly hungry. Their instincts are exactly what make them so very dangerous to humans.

Do Cougars Eat Snakes?

Cougars do not usually make prey on snakes.  But they can eat snakes if they want to or if they are starving.  These big cats enjoy eating all sorts of meat including snake meat.  If there is nothing else to eat, a cougar might very well attempt to catch a snake despite the risks of their venomous bites.

Do Cougars Eat Plants?

These animals usually do not eat any plants.  They need lots of protein to survive and do not digest plant matter very well.  You might however see them chewing on grass leaves from time to time.  The reason they chew grass is however still uncertain.

Do Cougars Eat Birds?

Yes, cougars love to eat birds and poultry.  They can leap up to 18 feet into the air to climb fences or to catch birds in mid-flight.  They are also agile climbers and can easily reach nests to feed on chicks.

Do Cougars Eat Mice?

Yes, cougars sometimes make prey on small animals including mice.  Mice are a good source of food if larger animals are unavailable to them.  Cougars also love the thrill of the chase and are very likely to lash out to catch mice even though they might not be particularly hungry.

Do Cougars Eat Bobcats?

These large cats have been known to eat other predatory species.  They might also catch bobcats and other domestic cats because they have the brute strength to overpower these other animals.

Do Cougars Eat Domestic Cats?

Yes, cougars do eat domestic cats and even dogs.  Domestic animals are however not a favorite food for them.  These cats are much more likely to pursue your livestock rather than your household pets.

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