Can You Own A Pet Cougar? (Mountain Lion & Puma)

Can you have a cougar as a pet? First I have to say, that the answer to this question is also true for pumas, mountain lions, and catamounts. All the names are just different words for the same species, even panthers are included depending on the color. Often this leads to confusion and many people aren’t sure about which animal is meant. However, the answer is: no you shouldn’t own a pet puma, even if it might be possible.

Can You Own A Pet Panther?
Can You Own A Pet Panther?
Pet cougar

Big cats of any type are fascinating, yet beautiful creatures. Many people love the thought of owning one of these wild predators. In most cases, they haven’t thought through this idea to the very end.

Often selfish and irrational reasons are the source of this uncommon wish. The feline is degraded to a status symbol. People think they want to bond with a wild animal without asking if the animal wants to bond with them. They have a picture in mind of how cool it would be to have a mountain lion on a leash without thinking how cruel it would be.

Is It Legal To Own A Pet Cougar?

Surprisingly many states within the US don’t prohibit the ownership of pet cougars. Alabama, Nevada, South Carolina, and Wisconsin even don’t regulate exotic cats like pumas at all.

Other states ask for a permit and want to prove that the owner has the knowledge and financial resources to take proper care. Someone will even visit your house and make sure that everything you need for your wild cat is in place.

Licenses are required in:

  • Delaware
  • Indiana
  • Maine
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Utah

In all states that are not on the list, you are not allowed to own a pet mountain lion.

The license often requires the study of zoology for a few semesters as well as hands-on experience with the species you want to own.

Is Owning A Puma Dangerous?

Mountain lion on rocks

Yes, owning wild animals is always dangerous. If you decide on getting one you must be fully aware that it comes with a certain risk. Safety aspects should have priority and you need to make sure that the puma is always under your control.

Uninvolved people like family, friends, and neighbors can be affected. One of the horror scenarios for many owners is that their pet attacks other people.

Even if your cat is very tame wild instincts can still kick in at any time. Some people can’t differentiate between the terms “tamed” and “domesticated”. The latter means that breeders selected the best characteristics to make the pets we know today. This process takes many generations and has definitely not taken place with cougars.

Owners are aware of this problem and some don’t like the risk involved. This is why sometimes the inhuman cruel act of declawing is done.

While you could think, that only the sharp claws are removed, nothing is more wrong. Actually, it’s the whole first part of the toes that is amputated. Balance and ability to climb and more are affected.

Someone who thinks about doing such things to other living beings shouldn’t own any pet at all.

Even if your puma cub is cute, tame, and friendly this might change. It happens often that the character (especially of males) gets a lot more aggressive when they reach sexual maturity.

How Much Is A Cougar?

Puma mother with cubs

Some breeders of exotic pets have cougars or their cubs for sale. Normally the breeding efforts are done to sell the animals to zoos and animal parks. However, if it’s legal they would sell one to you too. But be prepared to show your license if needed.

The price of the cougar itself will be about 5000 $. But have in mind that the real cost of owning a puma has just begun to start. Food, enclosure and vet care will add up quickly.

If all the information on this site and the internet, in general, can’t dissuade you from buying a pet cougar, you have to choose a breeder carefully. If you buy from the wrong person you will support the black market.

I bet you really don’t want that the mother of the cub you just bought was shot in the wild? Good, then we have this point clear.

Most People Can’t Take Good Care

A pet is a living being. No matter which species we talk about, the owner should take proper care. What is difficult enough with cats and dogs or even fish can turn into a real horror show with the wrong animal.

Big cats, no matter if we talk about lions, leopards, or cougars here are such wrong pets. Instead, they are wild animals and they should stay where they naturally live.

I don’t think that most people have bad intentions with their house pets. It’s just that they are not fully aware of what topic they are about to start when they buy their cougar cub.

Sometimes owning exotic pets becomes a financial disaster too. Food, veterinary care and shelter can become very expensive. When people lose their jobs, the pet is the first thing that has to suffer.

Another topic that can get complicated quickly is veterinary care. Not all vets want or can treat exotic cats. What happens without veterinary care when it’s needed describes the sad story of Tasha.

If the pet mountain lion has very bad luck, its owner decides that he can’t take care anymore one day. Pumas can live up to 23 years and this is a big commitment. Owners are completely tied to their feline predators. No holiday is possible not even for a few days unless you can take your pet with you. You would have to align your whole life with the cat.

That being said, owning big cats is a real trend and it’s sad. There are more tigers in captivity than in the wild and animal sanctuaries ring the alarm bell.

So even if it is legal in your state, you should think twice and better stay away from the idea of owning a big cat at all.

How To Come In Contact With Cougars?

If you are really into cougars and want to spend time with them, you can volunteer at animal shelters, sanctuaries or a zoo. You can even go abroad to care for exotic wildlife in other countries.

Working at a sanctuary is a very good idea if you want to get a pet mountain lion. This way you will learn exactly what these animals need to be happy and you will also get a feeling of whether you are able to give it to them or not.

It’s also good to take the responsibility and see if you could do this for the whole life of your pet. 

FAQ