Cougars (Puma concolor) are also called mountain lions, catamounts, pumas, and panthers, with their regional names reflecting their broad distribution across North and South America. The cougar has the largest range of any land mammal in the Western Hemisphere—other than humans. Mountain Lions can survive in a wide variety of habitats, from tropical rainforests and grasslands to deserts and temperate mountains.
Like other large carnivores, mountain lions have a relatively low reproductive rate. Females average only three kittens per litter, and mothers are solely responsible for rearing their young. Researchers have found that kittens are likely to starve if their mother dies before they are 1 year of age. In rare instances, another female cougar may adopt orphaned kittens and raise them herself. F61's mother did just that when F61 was a kitten, having taken on 2 orphans when the litter's biological mother was shot.
Mountain Lion kittens rely on their mother for food, protection, and survival lessons until they are approximately 18 months old, at which point they must venture off on their own so that their mother can breed again. Young females tend to settle down near their mother, whereas sub-adult males disperse into new territory to avoid conflict with more mature males and to avoid inbreeding with their mother and sisters.