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Baby Mountain Lion: What They’re Called, Facts, & Images

Baby mountain lions are called cubs or kittens. Mountain lions give birth to litters of one to six cubs, but the average is two. They are blind and helpless when born. They grow up fast, and at around six months old they can start hunting small prey by themselves.

Baby animals are often described as cute or adorable. Even the young of dangerous predators such as the mountain lion.

Baby mountain lions (or cubs) are born blind and helpless. They grow up fast, at about three months old they are weaned and slowly start going on hunts with their mom. 

In this article, we’ll present everything about baby mountain lions. We’ll find out what they look like, what they eat, how fast they grow, and much more.

What Are Baby Mountain Lions Called?

Baby mountain lions are called cubs or kittens.

While the term “cubs” is usually reserved for true big cats (lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars) it is also used for other animal babies. 

Baby mountain lions are typically called cubs even if mountain lions aren’t true “big cats” since they can’t roar.

Like common cat babies, mountain lion cubs can also be called kittens. The term “kitten” is usually reserved for the offspring of smaller felines, like cats, ocelots, lynxes, or bobcats.

What Are Baby Mountain Lions Called

What Do Mountain Lion Cubs Look Like?

Mountain lion cubs look different from adults. They are smaller, as they weigh about one pound and measure twelve inches long when born. Unlike adults, cubs have blue eyes and markings on their fur. They lose their markings as they grow and their eyes change color over time.

Mountain lion cubs look different from common cat kittens. They are larger and resemble lion or jaguar cubs a bit more, although they aren’t as big.

When born, they are covered in fuzzy fur, with markings all over their coats and their eyes are blue. 

How Big Are Baby Mountain Lions?

Baby mountain lions are big, especially compared to housecat kittens. They are about four times as large as cat kittens. Their fuzzy fur also makes them look  larger.

They weigh around one pound when born, depending on litter size and other factors. their length is usually around 12 inches.[1]

Mountain lion cubs grow up fast, but it takes a while for them to reach adult size. They grow until they are around three to five years old.

What Colors Are Baby Mountain Lions?

Baby mountain lions have the same general fur colors as adults. Colors range from a silvery-grey to a darker reddish-brown, but they are usually a tawny color.

Unlike adult individuals, mountain lion cubs have clear markings on their fur, this helps them camouflage better, and keeps them safe:

  • Dark face markings: Similar to a tabby cat’s markings with added darkness around the snout. These are present in adults too but much less visible.
  • Darker spots all over their fur: Unlike adults, mountain lion cubs are born with spots across their sides, and back. These are larger dark spots different from those of a jaguar or bobcat.
  • Stripes on the legs: Mountain lion cubs have dark stripes on their legs. When the stripes are shorter they resemble spots.
  • Dark rings on the tail: Mountain lion cub tails have black or dark rings that go all around them. On the underside of the tail, the rings can be less visible, giving the appearance that they are just stripes.
  • Black tail tip: The tip of mountain lion cubs’ tails is black. This and the tail ring lighten up as they grow, but the tip remains visibly darker.
  • Ocelli: Mountain lions, like many other cat species, have ocelli. These are darker areas on the back of the ears with a white or light spot, that resemble eyes. On cubs, ocelli are more visible than on adults, and a bigger part of their ears are darker.

With the exception of the ocelli, the dark tail tip, and a part of their face marking, adult mountain lions lose most of their markings. 

They either disappear completely or lighten as they age.[2]

What Colors Are Baby Mountain Lions
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Baby Mountain Lions Life Cycle

Baby mountain lions are born blind and helpless and depend on their mother for everything. They grow up fast and slowly learn how to be fierce, independent hunters. The mother raises the cubs alone, and they stay with her for up to two years.

Mountain lion cubs are vulnerable, especially in the first stages of their life. They are born blind and they can’t eat or move much on their own. Their mother is thankfully there to take care of them.

As they grow, they go through different stages, becoming more independent and capable with each stage. Here are the stages mountain lion cubs go through:

TimeCub behavior
After birthCubs are blind and completely helpless. They drink their mother’s milk.
Around 2 weeks oldTheir eyes open and they start to move around their den. They still drink their mother’s milk.
2-3 months oldThey can start eating solid food which their mother brings them. They still consume some milk.
Around 3 months oldThey are weaned and stop drinking milk. They switch to a full carnivore diet.
After 3 months oldthey start exploring their surroundings. They go out with their mother and learn from her.
Around 6 months oldThey can start hunting by themselves. At this point, they can only catch small prey.
12 to 24 months oldThey begin hunting bigger prey. They can leave their mother at this point. Some cubs stay with her for up to two years.

Mountain lions reach sexual maturity between one and three years old. Females usually reach maturity after 18 months.

Although they are considered adults after leaving their mothers and reaching sexual maturity, young mountain lions keep growing. They reach their adult size between three and five years old.[3]

Baby Mountain Lions Life Cycle

When Can Baby Mountain Lions Hunt on Their Own?

Although they can start eating solid food from around two to three months old cubs can’t yet provide for themselves. They still need their mother to hunt for them.

When they are about six months old they start hunting by themselves. At this stage, they only catch smaller animals and can’t survive on their own.

As they grow, their size and hunting abilities increase and they become skilled hunters. After they’re over one year old they are generally ready to hunt big prey by themselves.

What Sounds do Baby Mountain Lions Make?

Mountain lion cubs make a lot of different sounds. They use meows, chirps, and whistles to communicate with their mother, and can hiss, growl, and snarl when playing or feeling threatened.

Mountain lion babies make a variety of sounds. They can be split into 3 categories:

  • Meows, chirps, and whistles: These sounds are generally used to communicate with their mother and siblings. They can also use them to call their mom when they feel scared or to demand more food.[4]
  • Purrs: Like common cat kittens, mountain lion cubs purr when they are content. They purr when they are safe and relaxed.
  • Hisses, growls, and snarls: Like adults, cubs use these sounds when they feel threatened to try and intimidate the threat. They can also use them while playing with their mother and siblings.

Unlike adult mountain lions, cubs don’t make the characteristic screaming sounds. This is because these sounds are tied to sexual maturity and mating, so they don’t have a reason to.

Related article: Mountain Lion Sounds

What Do Baby Mountain Lions Eat?

Baby mountain lions eat their mother’s milk until they are old enough to start eating meat. After this, they are slowly weaned and transition to the carnivore diet of the adults.

Mountain lions can’t eat solid food after they are born. They need their mother’s milk to survive and she needs to feed them regularly.

After about two months they can start eating solid food. They receive pieces of meat from their mother as she slowly weans them. When weaned, they have a normal carnivoran mountain lion diet.

Dangers For Baby Mountain Lions

Baby mountain lions are susceptible to many dangers in the wild. Adult mountain lions aren’t preyed upon but other predators, like wolves, bears, and even coyotes can prey on lion cubs. Habitat loss and poaching also negatively affect cub survival chances, even if they aren’t directly targeted.

Starvation and Abandonment

Baby Mountain Lions Starvation and Abandonment

Mountain lion cubs are at risk of starving or being abandoned mainly thanks to other factors like poaching, habitat loss, and competition with other animals.

Poaching of mountain lion prey and habitat loss contribute to an overall lack of food. The cubs suffer if their mother can’t find enough food. 

As a result, they could starve even if she doesn’t abandon them, which she could do if she can’t feed them.

Competition with other animals, especially wolves can disrupt the normal activities of mountain lions. In areas with wolf packs, mountain lions can easily lose their prey, and raising cubs is unsafe.[5][6]



While adult mountain lions aren’t usually targeted, their cubs are. Lion cubs can be easily taken by bears, jaguars, wolves, and even coyotes. Cubs can also be taken by large birds of prey, like golden eagles.

The most dangerous predators to young mountain lions and cubs are other adult male mountain lions. They kill the young if they haven’t dispersed when their mother is in heat again, and regularly kill young male lions that pass through their range.[7]


Mountain lions, including cubs, are susceptible to the feline immunodeficiency virus. The virus lowers the immune system’s ability to respond to other threats and can lead to a weak response to other pathogens.[8]


Baby mountain lions are known as cubs or kittens. They are born blind and helpless, fully dependent on their mother. They grow up fast and at around six months old they can already hunt small animals by themselves. They look different from adults, having spots on their fur and blue eyes.

About Codrin Frunzete

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