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Cougar vs. Panther: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
A cougar is a large wild cat native to the Americas, known for its tawny or greyish coat, while a panther is a term used to describe black variants of several species of large cats.
Cougar vs. Panther

Key Differences

The cougar, also known as a mountain lion, is a specific species native to the Americas. The term panther is used more broadly for black-colored leopards or jaguars in Asia and Africa or sometimes for the Florida panther, a cougar subspecies.
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Cougars have a uniform tan or greyish coat without rosettes. Panthers, as melanistic variants, have a black coat which can sometimes still show their underlying rosette pattern.
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Cougars are solitary and territorial animals, preferring forests, prairies, and swamps in the Americas. Panthers, depending on the specific species they refer to, have varying habitats and behaviors.
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Cougars have a stable population in most of their range but are threatened in some areas. Panthers, particularly black leopards and jaguars, face challenges due to habitat loss and poaching.
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Both cougars and panthers are prominent in folklore and culture, but the symbolism can vary greatly due to the differing species referred to as panthers.
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Comparison Chart

Scientific Classification

Puma concolor.
Melanistic variants of Panthera pardus or Panthera onca.
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Geographic Range

Americas, from Canada to South America.
Asia and Africa for leopards; Americas for jaguars.
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Coat Appearance

Uniform tan or greyish, without rosettes.
Black, sometimes showing rosette pattern.
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Behavior

Solitary, territorial, prefers a range of habitats.
Varies based on species; leopards and jaguars differ.
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Conservation

Generally stable but threatened in parts.
Facing threats from habitat loss and poaching.
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Cougar and Panther Definitions

Cougar

The cougar has various names, including mountain lion, puma, and catamount.
Locally, the cougar is often referred to as the mountain lion.
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Panther

Panther is a term often used to refer to melanistic (black) leopards or jaguars.
In the dense jungle, the black panther was almost invisible in the shadows.
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Cougar

A cougar is a large, solitary cat predominantly found in the Americas.
The hiker spotted a cougar in the distance, moving stealthily through the forest.
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Panther

Panthers, particularly the black leopard, are found in dense rainforests of Asia and Africa.
The panther roamed silently through the Asian rainforest.
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Cougar

Cougars are known for their agility and strength, especially in mountainous terrain.
The cougar effortlessly climbed the steep cliffs of the mountain.
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Panther

The term panther is also used for the Florida panther, a cougar subspecies.
The Florida panther is a rare sight in the swamps of the southeastern United States.
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Cougar

Cougars are adaptable predators, hunting a wide range of prey.
The cougar was observed hunting deer near the edge of the forest.
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Panther

Panthers are known for their elusive nature and powerful hunting abilities.
The panther moved with incredible stealth, making it a formidable predator.
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Cougar

Cougars have a tawny coat and are one of the largest cats in North America.
The cougar's tawny coat provided excellent camouflage in the autumn woods.
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Panther

In popular culture, "panther" often symbolizes mystery, power, and beauty.
The panther in the movie was depicted as a symbol of strength and elegance.
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Cougar

A large powerful wild cat (Puma concolor syn. Felis concolor) chiefly of mountainous regions of the Americas, having an unmarked tawny body and a long tail. Also called catamount, mountain cat, mountain lion, panther, puma; Also called regionally painter.
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Panther

A large wild cat such as a leopard or jaguar, especially in a color form with black fur.
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Cougar

(Slang) A woman, especially one over 30, who romantically pursues or attracts younger men.
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Panther

See cougar.
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Cougar

Puma concolor, a wild feline native to the Americas.
Florida panther
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Panther

Any of various big cats with black fur; most especially, the black-coated leopard of India.
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Cougar

An older woman who actively seeks the casual, often sexual, companionship of younger men, by implication a female “sexual predator”.
A cougar approached Warren at the Palomino Club and asked for a dance.
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Panther

Any big cat of the genus Panthera.
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Cougar

An American feline quadruped (Felis concolor), resembling the African panther in size and habits. Its color is tawny, without spots; hence writers often called it the American lion. Called also puma, panther, mountain lion, and catamount. See Puma.
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Panther

A cougar; especially the Florida panther.
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Cougar

Large American feline resembling a lion
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Panther

(slang) A girl, especially a young one, who pursues older men.
Paige is 16 and dates a 19 years old guy, she's such a panther.
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Panther

A creature resembling a big cat with a multicolored hide, found in Ancient Greek mythology.
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Panther

A large dark-colored variety of the leopard, by some Zoologists considered a distinct species. It is marked with large ringlike spots, the centers of which are darker than the color of the body.
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Panther

In America, the name is applied to the puma, or cougar, and sometimes to the jaguar.
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Panther

A large spotted feline of tropical America similar to the leopard; in some classifications considered a member of the genus Felis
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Panther

A leopard in the black color phase
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Panther

Large American feline resembling a lion
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What is a cougar?

A cougar is a large wild cat native to the Americas, known for its agility and strength.
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Is the Florida panther a different species?

The Florida panther is a subspecies of the cougar, not a different species.
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Can panthers be found outside of Africa and Asia?

If referring to melanistic leopards or jaguars, they are native to Africa, Asia, and the Americas. The term can also refer to the Florida panther.
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Are cougars endangered?

Cougars are not currently endangered but face threats in certain areas.
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Where do cougars live?

Cougars inhabit a range of environments in the Americas, from Canadian forests to South American mountains.
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Are all panthers black?

The term panther usually refers to black-colored leopards or jaguars, so they typically have a dark coat.
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Do panthers live in groups?

Like the species they refer to (leopards or jaguars), panthers are generally solitary.
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How does melanism occur in panthers?

Melanism in panthers is a genetic variation that results in a black coat.
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What animals are referred to as panthers?

Panthers are typically melanistic (black) variants of leopards or jaguars, but can also refer to the Florida panther, a cougar subspecies.
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How large can a cougar grow?

Cougars are one of the largest North American cats, with males weighing up to 220 pounds.
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What do cougars eat?

Cougars are carnivores that primarily hunt deer, elk, and other small mammals.
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Why are panthers often used as symbols in culture?

Panthers symbolize mystery, power, and beauty in various cultures.
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Are cougars good climbers?

Yes, cougars are excellent climbers and often use trees for hunting and shelter.
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What role do panthers play in the ecosystem?

Panthers are top predators, playing a key role in controlling prey populations and maintaining ecological balance.
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How do cougars communicate?

Cougars communicate through vocalizations, scent markings, and visual signals.
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Are panthers solitary or social animals?

Panthers, like the leopards and jaguars they refer to, are generally solitary.
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Do cougars attack humans?

Cougar attacks on humans are rare but can occur, especially if they feel threatened.
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What is the conservation status of panthers?

Conservation status varies; black leopards and jaguars face habitat loss and poaching threats.
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What is the habitat of a panther?

Panthers inhabit a variety of habitats depending on the species, from rainforests to swamps.
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Can cougars swim?

Cougars are capable swimmers, though they do not swim as frequently as some other big cats.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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