Because of their enormous range, cougars are known as "the cat of many names." The cougar is a large, solitary cat whose territory extends from Yukon in Canada to the southern Andes of South America. A mountain lion's keen senses, muscular agility, and ability to adapt to almost any landscape and prey make it a successful hunter. In the English language, the cougar is known by over 40 different names. The most common of these names are cougar, mountain lion, puma. Other names include catamount, painter, panther, ghost cat and shadow cat.
Although large, the cougar is most closely related to smaller felines, specifically the jaguarundi, which is about one-tenth the size of the cougar. Recent studies have indicated that the cougar and jaguarundi are most closely related to the modern cheetah, but the precise relationship remains unresolved.
The cougar’s life expectancy is between 8 and 13 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity.