Cougars are excellent swimmers

Although many cats don’t like wa­ter, cou­gars are ex­cel­lent swim­mers. And they don’t just go for little dips either. One, wear­ing a GPS col­lar, was tracked swim­ming 6.5 kilo­metres from down­town Nanaimo to Gabriola Island.

In the last two years I’ve seen four YouTube videos fea­tur­ing cou­gars swim­ming off Vancouver Island and the BC main­land. And in each video, the big cat went straight for the boat.

Was it curi­ous or had its chase in­stinct been triggered by the fast mov­ing ob­ject? Who knows, per­haps it just wanted to hitch a ride.

As curi­ous as you may be, there are doc­u­mented cases of cou­gars at­tempt­ing to climb into mov­ing boats so it’s best not to get too close.

A friend who loves to kayak asked what she should do if she saw a cou­gar swim­ming to­wards her kayak. My ad­vice: pray, pre­pare your bear spray and paddle like hell!

This is one of my fa­vour­ite swim­ming cou­gar videos. (It’s at the end of the article.)

Cougars are strong…smart too

Cougars are ex­quis­itely built killing ma­chines cap­able of tak­ing down an an­im­al sev­en times their size. But this strength can’t be fully ap­pre­ci­ated un­less witnessed.

A 2001 video taken in New Mexico shows a 70-kilo­gram (150-pound) cou­gar tack­ling a 120-kilogrom (265-pound) mule deer.maxablebcr2.jpg

The strength of the cou­gar as it takes down this deer is in­cred­ible. Even be­ing kicked re­peatedly in the head by sharp hooves does not per­suade the cat to let go. And when its ini­tial at­tempts to kill the deer don’t work, the cou­gar em­ploys a new strategy.

Don’t for­get to watch the tip of the cougar’s tail.

Cougars are Curious

Photo by Verena Vomastic
Photo by Verena Vomastic

Like all cats, cou­gars are curi­ous. They’re at­trac­ted to move­ments, noises and ob­jects they haven’t seen be­fore. But a curi­ous cou­gar can quickly be­come a dan­ger­ous one if some­thing trig­gers its chase and kill instinct.

The most com­mon trig­gers are quick, er­rat­ic ac­tions such as jog­ging or chil­dren play­ing, high-pitched, prey-like sounds or an an­im­al or per­son ap­pear­ing vul­ner­able be­cause they are alone, seem in­jured or are small, which in­cludes crouch­ing or squatting.

The young adult cou­gar shown here was pho­to­graphed star­ing in a Manitou Springs, Colorado home. At one point the cat stood up and put its paws on the win­dow and the own­ers wor­ried the glass would break.

Luckily, the cou­gar de­cided it had seen enough and sauntered away. And tracks in the snow re­vealed that it wasn’t trav­el­ling alone. The size of the paw prints in­dic­ated it was ac­com­pan­ied by its moth­er and a sibling.