Video: Mountain Lion Kittens Fight Over Food and Snuggles

Young mountain lions sort out their place in the litter hierarchy early in life. These little ones are only just weaning and are around 3 months old. Their feigned ferocity, vastly outsized compared to their coordination, makes for a lot of bluff and tumble but no real bite. Often, the competition for a scarce resource is what fuels these interactions. But when there is plenty, tolerance is more abundant. And at the end of the day, they’re all more than happy to put aside their squabbles and seek comfort cuddling and nursing from their mother.

Mom is cougar F5. She’s part of a long-term population study run by the MPG Ranch in western Montana. We first identified her in December 2014 with a yearling kitten. We guessed her to be at least three-years-old at the time, but possibly older. That would make her minimally 10 now, and getting up there for a predator who averages a 13-year expected lifespan in the wild.

At her age, she may not be as successful a hunter as she once was, which would explain why her kittens are fighting for scraps. She had a litter of three the winter before this footage and lost them all, breeding again in the early summer and giving birth in the early fall to these little ones. Life isn’t easy for a predator, and the hazards associated with the hunt take their toll over a lifetime. But as far as we know, F5 is still out there, haunting the mountains she calls home.

Shop
Land Access Fund Donation
Save this product
MeatEater

A quick and easy way to contribute to our Land Access Fund in an amount of your choosing.

Land Access Fund Nalgene
Save this product
MeatEater

Profits from the sale of this Nalgene will be made as a donation to the Land Access Initiative. Get yours today and support this cause.

Bison T-Shirt
Save this product
MeatEater

The Buffalo - a nostalgic portrait of a true American icon and the largest mammal in North America

American Buffalo Book
Save this product
MeatEater

By Steven Rinella. An adventurous, fascinating examination of an animal that has haunted the American imagination.

Get the latest in your inbox
Subscribe to our newsletters to receive regular emails with hand-picked content, gear recommendations, and special deals.
Our picks for the week's best content and gear
For the whitetail obsessed, with Mark Kenyon
Redefining our connection to food, with Danielle Prewett
Your one-stop for everything waterfowl, with Sean Weaver
Get out on the water with the MeatEater Fishing crew
Technical hunting apparel
Purpose-built accessories for hunting and fishing
Quality elk, turkey, waterfowl, and deer calls
Save this article