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Owning a Pet Cougar: Understanding the Hurdles and Risks

I am preparing to have a cougar for a pet and would like to share my research with you.

Review some of the legal and ethical questions related to owning a cougar as a pet.

Review some of the legal and ethical questions related to owning a cougar as a pet.

Can You Keep a Cougar as a Pet?

Yes! Cougars can be kept as pets in the United States, but there are certain legalities that must first be considered.

I have always been fascinated by cougars. As I got older and discovered that they could be legally kept as pets, I became increasingly attracted to the proposition.

Since my husband doesn't hate the idea, we are in the preparation stages for making this happen. It will very likely be 10 or 15 years from now. I have begun the process of doing research, and I will share my findings here.

Cougars are not legal to own in all states.

Cougars are not legal to own in all states.

The answer to this question depends on where you live. Each state has different laws regarding the ownership of big cats and other exotic pets. Twenty-one states currently outlaw the ownership of wild animals. The states of Alabama, Nevada, and Wisconsin allow the ownership of pets like cougars with no restrictions. Here is a basic rundown of state laws regarding exotic pets.

Keep in mind that laws can differ within your city or county. If you are interested in owning an exotic pet of any kind, I strongly advise researching the legality of ownership in your city and state as a first step. It would be heartbreaking to go through all of the work in deciding how to care for your pet cougar and building the enclosure only to find out that you cannot own the cat in the area where you live.

Which States Allow Big Cats as Pets?

Here is a quick rundown of states that can potentially allow you to have a cougar for a pet. A fair amount of states require a license or permit, which can be difficult to obtain.

  • Alabama: There are no licenses or permits required for exotic animals.
  • Delaware: A permit is required for wild mammals.
  • Indiana: A permit is required for owning any dangerous exotic animal.
  • Maine: A permit is required.
  • Mississippi: A permit is required.
  • Missouri: A permit is required. The animal must also be registered to the county it is held in.
  • Montana: A permit is required.
  • Nevada: No license or permit required.
  • North Carolina: The state leaves it up to cities and counties on deciding the legality of exotic pet ownership. It may be illegal in some parts of the state to own a cougar and completely unregulated in other parts of the state.
  • North Dakota: A permit is required for dangerous animals.
  • Oklahoma: A permit is required.
  • Pennsylvania: A permit is required.
  • Rhode Island: A permit is required.
  • South Carolina: There are no state laws concerning the ownership of big cats.
  • South Dakota: A permit and veterinarian's examination is required.
  • Texas: A license is required to own exotic pets.
  • Utah: A permit is required.
  • Wisconsin: The state has no restrictions.

A Cougar Is a Wild Animal! Can It Be Domesticated?

No, not exactly. It should be noted that there is a difference between domesticating and taming an animal. A cougar can be tamed in the sense that it can be used to being around humans in a fairly calm manner. This is essentially what happens with animals held in a zoo. They are still wild animals and can still be dangerous. Domestication is the change in a species over multiple generations where desired traits are selected by breeders. Docility could be one desired trait.

A big cat like a cougar has many attributes that prevent it from being domesticated. They have a very specific diet, which makes them expensive to feed. They have a fairly slow growth rate, which can be problematic for owners to do any type of breeding intervention. They can be difficult to breed in captivity, can be aggressive toward humans, and are generally solitary animals. It is also very challenging to give them an adequate living space in a common home.

Wild Animals Will Always Be Wild

For those who have exotic pets, the purpose of having the animal is not to domesticate it. It isn't even necessary to tame the animal (and not all exotics can be tamed). For those who love exotic pets, it is about a strong desire to make contact with an animal that others don't consider to be a pet.

Cougars are wild animals, just as the snakes that people keep as pets are wild animals. My sugar gliders are wild animals as well. Many pets that people keep originated in the wild. After a few generations, perhaps they could be tamed or even domesticated. It is commonly believed that the further the animal is from a wild parent, the more domestic it is. However, one thing that anyone considering such a dramatic purchase needs to consider is that a wild animal will always be wild. They are dangerous. Precautions must be taken, and the owner must ensure that they are able to care for a wild animal for the duration of a very long lifetime.

What You Need to Know Before Owning a Cougar

If you are going to own a cougar (or any type of large cat or exotic animal, for that matter), a lot of research is required. You cannot slack off on your research! There is a lot of information that you will need to have before you decide to purchase your cougar.

  • Is it legal where you live?
  • What kind of licensing will you need to have?
  • If the laws change, will you be grandfathered in?
  • Do you have enough room for a full outdoor enclosure?
  • What are the cat's dietary needs?
  • Do you have enough information on raw nutrition?
  • Is there a good exotic animal vet in your vicinity?

Research, read, and collect information. Go online and contact government agencies to ask questions.

You'll need to contact the nearest exotic animal vet and ask them if they work with cougars. I'm lucky that there is one in my town. My first exotic cat will likely be an African serval, and I have been able to confirm that they take them.

Do Cougars Purr?

You bet they do! It was once believed that cougars were the largest cat to purr, but I've heard some talk recently that scientists are discovering that other big cats purr as well. However, they do so at a different pitch or volume. Cougars certainly have a very loud purr!

One of the things that I love most about cats is that rumbling sound that they make in their chest. I find it soothing and comforting. As someone who has suffered from depression, cats have been a real lifeline for me, and a cougar purrs like it has a V6 engine in its belly. Just listen!

Isn't It Dangerous to Own a Cougar?

The simple answer is yes. Big cat ownership is dangerous. There is no question that a person takes a risk when they decide to allow an exotic animal into their home. When I owned snakes, I was often asked, "Don't they bite?" And my answer was always, "If it has a mouth, it can and probably will bite."

The key to taking on a large exotic animal is to know what the risks are and to take precautions. For example, it would be foolish to enter a lion or tiger enclosure alone. Another person is your guard against attack, and you need someone else to help defend you if an attack does occur.

When someone chooses to take on an exotic animal, such as a pet cougar, they are accepting that there are risks. How much you understand your animal will certainly help avoid running into problems down the road. Species and breeder research are absolutely imperative in successful ownership of an exotic animal.

This sleepy, yawning cougar displays its formidable teeth.

This sleepy, yawning cougar displays its formidable teeth.

What to Do Around an Aggressive Cougar

Here are some things to keep in mind if you are around a cougar that seems aggressive. These tips will be helpful whether the animal is in captivity or in the wild.

  • Do not run from a cougar. Like most predators, they have a natural instinct to chase after prey.
  • Do not stand still or play dead. The cougar will see you as being easy prey.
  • Make eye contact. Cougars consider this to be a threat.
  • Make yourself appear bigger. If you have a jacket, open it up. Wave your arms around as well. Loudly shouting can help as well.
  • If there are children around, pick them up before they get scared, and run away. Cougars see children as easy targets.
  • Fighting back an aggressive cougar can dissuade them. Use anything in reach as a weapon if you can. Try to protect your neck as cougars often attack that area.

A Cougar Is Just a Really Big Cat

Most wild cats behave very much like our domestic cats. They play and interact with one another, with their humans, and with other pets. They hunt, sleep, and even purr.

I do understand the concerns from my friends and family who believe that it is cruel to separate these wild animals from their own social networks. I agree with many of their objections. But I also believe that it is perfectly human to want to connect with these wonderful animals, and that they can be kept humanely.

After watching the video above, please keep in mind that this level of trust is unusual. Most owners won't get to this point with their cat, and that needs to be understood and accepted. While every owner would love to reach this point with their pet, it takes a lot of dedication and very good breeding of the animal. Even then, there are no guarantees. This is still a cougar!

Declawing may be cruel.

Declawing may be cruel.

What About Declawing a Cougar?

There are a lot of thoughts on whether or not it is acceptable to declaw cats. The procedure involves the surgical removal of the first digit of the individual toe on the cat's paw. Declawing is not the removal of the nail, the way that human fingernails might be clipped. It is the removal of the entire distal phalange. It would be the same as removing the first digit of every single one of your fingers and toes.

It is is an amputation, and it is a very big deal that is often made light of. Equating it to the removal of the fingernails isn't enough. Think of it as the removal of your fingers—or, moreover, your toes. It affects a cat's balance, their overall health, and their well-being. The procedure may also cause chronic pain for the duration of their lifetime.

The issue is compounded when we're talking about big cats. Cougars, lions, tigers, and other big cats are dangerous to begin with, but a cat with claws may not be aware of themselves or their strength, and this can be a huge issue.

My Opinion

I do not support the procedure for regular cats. If you do not want your cat to have claws, you do not want a cat. Get something that doesn't have feet. Maybe a nice snake. I have not made up my mind whether or not we will declaw our cougar. Not everyone does, and it will depend on laws and what my research says. This is an ongoing process for me, and I will eventually have to make a decision. If it comes down to it, I might make the decision not to get the cat if it means that I must declaw it.

How to Work With Big Cats

You may have come to the decision that owning a cougar may not be feasible (or you live in a state where it is prohibited). However, there are still many ways you can get involved with big cats.

  • Sanctuaries: You can volunteer at a big cat sanctuary if there is one nearby you. These sanctuaries offer vital conservation efforts for these animals that are often endangered.
  • Zoos: You can look up your local zoo to see if they have any volunteer or internship opportunities. This is a great way to help animals as well as start a potential career at a zoo.
  • Education: If you are interested in a career in working with big cats, consider working towards a degree in biology, ecology, or zoology.
  • Conservation: If you live around cougar territory, you may consider becoming involved with the National Park Service. They do research on wild cougars and aid in conservation efforts.

How to Rehome an Exotic Animal

So you live in a state that lets you keep a cougar, and you managed to get through the process of obtaining all the necessary permits. You've managed to take care of the animal, but you now realize that you may not be able to adequately care for it anymore. This is a common occurrence for owners of exotic pets. They may not have realized how much work (and money) goes into caring for these creatures. It's even a common occurrence with domesticated pets.

Contact a Sanctuary or Rescue Agency

If you own an exotic pet like a cougar and can no longer care for it, it is recommended that you contact a sanctuary. These organizations often take wild animals from private owners. You could potentially give your pet to another owner, but it is strongly recommended that you ensure that they are capable of caring for it. It is strongly recommended that you contact an animal rescue agency if you need to part with your exotic pet.

My Story as a Cat Person

I am a dog person, but I'm also a cat lover. I've always been fascinated by cats, from the time that I was almost too small to remember. When I was five, I got my first cat. My parents took me to the shelter to pick him out, and he was wonderful. We named him Buffy because he was a long-haired buff-colored cat. He was never particularly affectionate, but I loved him like crazy. It still breaks my heart to think that he's gone.

Most people consider me a cat person, probably because I've had an ongoing love affair with cats in general. My favorite wild animals (after giraffes) are all cats. Bengal tigers, African lions, and Panthers all fascinate me. I've written furry fiction, and some of my favorite characters are cats. I remember watching Born Free over and over again when I was a child, wondering what it must be like to have a pet lioness that lived in the house with the humans, just like a house cat.

I've never been average when it comes to pets. I'm obsessed with the exotics. I've owned several snakes (varying from very small to very large Burmese pythons), rats, mice, and sugar gliders, as well as various lizards. I've owned cockatiels and budgies as well, though I'm not sure you could classify those as exotic birds. I would love to have an African grey parrot, though!

So, What Do You Think About Pet Cougars?

Civil Conversation Is Welcome

Whether you agree or disagree with the ownership of exotic animals, please be civil in your responses here. I've received a lot of criticism for my standpoint on the ownership and captive breeding of wild animals, especially of cats in particular. Criticism has been both public and private, and it's often hurtful. You are free to express your opinion, but please do it politely. If you cannot be polite, at least be civil.

I am interested in your opinions, but more than anything, I'd like to know that you were here. If you have any additional resources that I might want to look at or feature, please let me know. I'm always looking for more information, and the resources that I've included on this page are my favorites.

Start Your Cougar Ownership Research Here

  • Rexano: Responsible Exotic Animal Ownership
    This site can be a bit difficult to navigate, but it is definitely one of the most comprehensive resources for exotic animal ownership that I have found. You'll want to spend some time on this site if you are interested in owning a big cat.
  • Feline Conservation Federation (FCF)
    A non-profit, non-governmental organization that consists of wild feline managers, educators, conservationists, researchers, and all those who support the mission of feline conservation in captivity and in the wild.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2011 Everyday-Miracles

Leave your Pawprint!

Falco on August 20, 2020:

This article sounds like something a 10 year old would write. I had a chuckle about how your husband doesn't "hate" the idea. Its a dumb ass idea really.

Garrett Anderson on July 22, 2020:

I believe that humanity is such a destructive force that eventually all animals on earth will need to be domesticated to some degree or they are likely to face extinction or become near extinction. So in a way I think that people who are keeping animals safe and taking exceptional care of the animals needs are actually doing the best thing to aid in the evolution of thier species. This is because I believe when we become knowledgeable of something in the universe like evolution

we also inherently become responsible for the use of that knowledge.

Madeup Fakenamington on June 25, 2020:

I think that if you declaw the cougar you should not own the cougar

Name on May 27, 2020:

There is a Russian couple who have a puma named messi its on youtube look it up.

Rospahim on May 17, 2020:

It's doable, but I feel that it requires too much commitment for the average person, so the majority of those who purchase one would not treat it responsibly. (unless the state in question i wildlife focused such as nevada or montana) The east coast tends to be more urbanized when compared to other regions, with more urbanization comes multiple lifestyles, none of them very equipped to care for a large cat. A good way to test commitment is too create a cougar specific license that takes a very long time to obtain and is an ordeal to qualify for. Those who really want a cougar will dedicate themselves to obtaining the permit regardless of hos difficult it is top obtain.

Leslie on May 11, 2020:

Declawing anything is cruel as is docking extremities. While they are magnificent animals, having one would essentially be like condemning both the cougar and yourself to a very restricted life, almost like prison. The cougar would be completely helpless without you, and not suitable for any normal life. Even the pleasure of a weekend trip or a vacation would be very complex, if not impossible. People change, also, and if you changed in your attitudes, or lifestyle preferences, the cougar would be the one to suffer. Also, it is a huge financial commitment, and as the Covid 19 situation has shown, our comfortable lifestyles can be gone with the wind.

Eugene on May 02, 2020:

I find this article extraordinary. After clearly explaining how cluel declawing is, you are still considering doing it?! I'm sorry, but I think that actually makes you a bad person.

Anonymous on April 25, 2020:

Yo Aaron. I agree with you but there's no point in saying bad things to people who want a pet cougar. It's their opinion and their choice. We shouldn't interfere with their desires. I myself think that having a pet cougar would be very pleasurable.

Matt on April 21, 2020:

Just don't do it. Get a domestic pet.

If you get one and declaw it you'll join the lowest of the low.

Bas on April 18, 2020:

I want a cougar as a pet but My mom doesn’t let me

Aaron on April 10, 2020:

This article is stupid, I hope this person gets a cougar and it eats them. The only point of owning an exotic should be for conservation. Not "to be close with something people don't consider to be a pet". You're a moron.

Watermage on March 24, 2020:

Declawing omg. Whats next? Pulling their teeth as well?

Ivan Klyuchev on March 13, 2020:

Watched a few videos about wild African cats. They are wild ancestors of domestic cats. And there is hardly any difference between them and regular tubby cats.

Cats are barely domesticated. No surprise that cougars are so cat like because cats and cougars are both wild animals.

eric little on March 03, 2020:

this is cool i love cougars

Anon on February 12, 2020:

As for everyone saying it’s “wrong” to keep these animals as pets it’s pretty contradicting seeing as you’d still keep a snake or any other feral animal i could even use the argument of domestic animals dogs and cats for example they were not always domesticated it took generations of owning wild animals to domesticate them but no one ever thinks that far in the past or that far to the future

Abel on January 23, 2020:

I definately find it a magnificent animal! But I do not allow me the right of "owning" a wild animal. As for declawing, it is an horror! If one does not stand the risk ,he must just forget about owning a cougar. Let them live in peace!

Anonomous on October 29, 2019:

Please advise the people that they might want to consult an attorney to help protect their exotic pet interests. Corrupt officials may want to make them an example. Cant fight corrupt politicians or Animal control. Money talks and corrupts as well as does harm to exotic pets. Check spokane washingtons news about 25 years or so ago.

William on October 18, 2019:

I watch all the videos I can find on these big cats.

hi on October 09, 2019:

thank you i have been wanting a pet puma for a long time this really helped

Emmie V. Abadilla on September 04, 2019:

I have been owned by a cougar. I have also volunteered caring for big cats in three continents - Asia, Africa and North America - at least 50 tigers, at least 20 lions, plus leopards and smaller cats - Canada & Siberian lynxes & caracals. The cougar who owned me was a traumatized, abused, captive-bred resident in a sanctuary owned by an abusive, drug-addicted couple (I didn't know that until over a week after I got in.) Of course, the cougar was unpredictable and I realized they could have been putting drugs in her food. She bit me - but I managed to be calm and "talk" her into releasing my hand. It took 6 months of physical therapy to restore mobility in that hand. She's a full-grown adult and could have killed me easily if she wanted to. Despite everything, I would have bought her freedom and taken her with me to live out the rest of her days in my home - if only I had the money! She was brokenhearted when I left. She sickened and died soon after. What happened didn't lessen my love for big cats. I volunteered with lions and tigers after I healed. I'll get a cougar for a companion animal anytime if I'll have the funds and the space and the exotic vet needed. I know they're not meant to be pets but nothing compares to the sense of privilege you feel when an exotic gives you its affection and unconditional love. And they are capable of showing great affection even though they are wild and could never be domesticated. I would risk my life over and over just to be with them.

andre on August 12, 2019:

it would seem fun and all to have a big cat as a pet but it is really cruel, i would have bought a hamster or a snake instead

Ann on June 03, 2019:

This makes me so sad. Big cats don’t belong in captivity. It hurts me so badly to see or hear about big cats being walked on leashes and being used as a status symbol. I’m truly sickened that you have “done your research” and still want to subject a cougar to a life in captivity just because you think it would be cool. I really can’t describe how sad it makes me when wild animals like this are treated as pets. Big cats are not pets. They belong in the wild, not your backyard. Only in very very rare cases is it acceptable to own an exotic pet, and this is not one of them. I’m disappointed but not surprised that people like you prioritize your petty desires over an animal’s well-being.

Me on May 22, 2019:

coll good work peeps

Tired on April 21, 2019:

Declawing any animal is absolutely cruel. You have no right to whatsoever. Big cats already don’t belong locked up in house, they don’t need to be mutilated in said prison. Respect animals. Your “need to connect with them” is irrrlevant. They would not choose to connec to with you unless you imprison them and you would have to leave them to pain and suffering to guarantee they don’t claw you to death.

trinity jones 101 on March 15, 2019:

I am doing a project about cougars and there are a lot still dont know that i need, like how do you train cougars and do you need any am in 7th grade like i need this infomation for cougars do you have any tips or sites i need a reply like vary soon.

thank you for the other helpful infomation it help answer many thing i have like 60 slides or a bit less.

Anon on February 19, 2019:

Thank you, Elle10810.

Elle10810 on November 20, 2018:

You say ‘I would never recommend de clawing a regular cat. If you can’t deal with the claws then you shouldn’t get a cat’. And go on to explain the many reasons it’s cruel. Then you completely contradict yourself saying But with a puma I might do it. What?!?

You’re putting your own desires above the welfare of an animal. You’ve done good research compared to probably most people but I do not believe any animal like this should be kept as a pet; having worked in sanctuaries , it is not acceptable and you will be directly contributing to the Black market illegal trafficking trade of exotic wild animals. Any of these pets will have come to the pet market via the black market which would mean the mother of the original being shot in the wild. Do you want to financially contribute to these practises ?

yusri de troyer on October 31, 2018:

Hello i realy want a pet cougar i did all my homework about cougars but i cant figger out someting i live in spain but i dont no if i can keep a cougar here as a pet

Denise Lafey on October 30, 2018:

I successfully had a cougar as a pet. You named all the considerations, I would add be sure you will be able to keep the cat for its entire life which could be 22 years. You will be attached to it and the cougar will be attached to you. They should not be given away to a sanctuary any more than a pet dog or cat should be given away. And believe me when I say you will be very bonded to each other even more than you ever were to any other pet. This means you need to know that your living situation will not change and you will need room outside for that regulation size enclosure. I bought my cat when she was 10 weeks old and kept her in my house as long as I could. Around 5 months old I bought her a 5 month old dog to have as a playmate because I realized she had to be in an enclosure at night and I didn't want her to be alone. They loved each other and kept each other warm in the winter. The dog was a Briard. She became ill and died when she was four and I will never get over the loss, so keep that in mind also. Everyone I know who has fallen in love with a cougar feels the same way. Many rescues and sanctuaries have begun that way. It is like having a cat that is as big as a dog. She loved dogs so my friends would bring their dogs to play with her by the pool. I was lucky to be grandfathered in when California laws changed about owning exotics.

Zero555 on October 13, 2018:

This may sound very fantastic. I would like to have A creature from another planet for an exotic pet. What you feed such A creature? Could you walk it on A leash and would it make A good pet?

Bradley on October 03, 2018:

I’ve been doing research and learning lore about having an exotic cat. I see pros and cons to this just like anything else in life. Any animal you have can turn on you. I guess my question is how would I go about being introduced or finding a family that has an exotic cat to see if it’s somethjng I feel I could handle. Thank you

Carter on September 15, 2018:

The only way I would think declawing an exotic cat would be cruel is if you tossed it into the wild again.

Brooklynn on July 29, 2018:

I’ve always liked big cats, and of course African big cats will always be wonderful, I like to stay close to home, ergo, Cougars. They’re beautiful and amazing and I’d love to have one, but I wasn’t sure if they were life threatening. Now that I’ve read your article, I’ve decided that it’s a risk I’d be more than willing to take, so, thanks.

Sean on July 03, 2018:

This might be the worst question but how to get use to a cougar and make it get use to us like any other pet would? Is it even possible?

Tim on May 27, 2018:

Seems like bullshit to me. Focus in now, not 15 years

Harriet1234 on April 06, 2018:

I would always discourage wild animals as pets. They need a space where they can do things they want to when they feel like it. Not be bullied and tamed into submission. There are exceptions but sanctuaries are filled with animals that didn't work out as pets

vincent on March 14, 2018:

I am part of the same path you are on. I have been studying the cougars as a exotic that is manageable as a companion animal. There are many cases that if done right it can be a rewarding and amazing experience . I dont believe in the tale anymore that cougars are the best exotic feline because they are tamable over other cats. I have a friend that has a African lion that i would trust anyone with. and in the same another friend has a bobcat that would rip anyone's face off. its all dependable on the cat . every animal has its own personality. I wish you the best on this and hope to see you tube videos in the future to see your cat.

Deborah on January 31, 2018:

I would love to have a puma/cougar as a pet. Having always had wild/exotic pets growing up (skunks, raccoons, wild hogs), and I currently have a bobcat residing with me that I raised from a bottle, I see no harm as long as you are prepared for the trials and challenges that go with it. Keep in mind it is a commitment that you need to be prepared to take on for the long term as these animals can’t just be dropped off at the local shelter or back into the wild.

Ronnie on December 08, 2017:

Not gunna lie, I don’t think regular house cats are truly domesticated. Cats have a whole other awareness to them, it’s very much a mutualist relationship instead of a dependent one where as dogs are literally dependent on humans for survival. With that being said, as long as there is respect with the animal, and it’s needs are all met then it should be fine. I know that one day I am going to care(I will not say own you cannot own a living creature) for, however when I do get my large cat, I want to adopt it from a facility that has many cats. Please look into this, so many people get these large animals without realizing the amount of care they need or how large they get and end up giving them to places where if they can’t find a zoo for it, the animal is sold for its pelt. Please look at cougars that are already out there and desperately need a home. There are only three options for exotics that have been raised by humans; they go to a zoo, they get adopted, or they are sold for their pelt.

David Beers on December 07, 2017:

My son keeps asked by for weird things. He would often ask, "Dad, can I buy a python" after watching jungle book. Or later "Dad, will you buy me a tarantula?"

Today he asked me "dad, will you buy me a cougar for my 13th birthday?"

He has always asked for odd gifts

That led me to this webpage. I don't think I 13-year-old can take care of a cat that outweighs him by 100 lbs.

Will. on December 02, 2017:

To be short: Cougars are dangerous wild felines and outlawed in many states for a reason. They will never be domesticated (or at least, barring something akin to the grey fox studies) and can kill you, your pets, your neighbors, and your neighbors pets. However, if you are reasonably sure you are prepared and have done your research like the author, I would consider a kept cougar to be as or less dangerous than a wolfdog. Ethically, cougars are solitary hunters, so removing one from its social group will be stressful, but not devastating as it is for social animals. Take extreme care to train it, or better yet, contact an expert and keep them on quickdial. Be fully aware that, even if a tresured member if your family, you are not safe with the animal, and treat it with the measured respect its killing power demands -- akin to keeping your eye on the ocean when you're in an area with high waves and riptides. I hope your journey with your cougar, if you do adopt one, is enriching, author, and recommend you look into the local wildlife rangers -- some cubs may lose their mothers or become injured, and would be in a better position for adoption than others.

Maggy on November 11, 2017:

The thing is- cats believe you are there for them. They will never care about you, never mind a cougar that is built to eat you. The point of a pet is that you and the pet are enriched by each other's company. Cats tend to make everything onesided. When I was young I wanted a tiger just like I wanted the bad boy on the motorcycle. But hopefully you discover neither is good for you before you get the consequences.

I currently have a cougar of my very own HUNTING me on a daily basis. I simply cannot go outside after dark at all. And its there, every night, just waiting for me, 30 feet from my front door. I'm a hostage. I have seen it chase deer. I have seen it watching me. I have heard it in the brush slowly maneuvering for the pounce, I watched it watching people on the road, following them. A couple nights ago it knocked on my front door at 4am. I'm not kidding!

My worst fear is the cougar gets inside the house and you are ready to hold the door open for one.

I went to a petting zoo and held a baby cougar once. I came back when the cougar was full grown. It made sounds like it recognized me. So I did the unthinkable, I leaned way over the rail, and put my hand between the top of the chainlink and the barbed wire. The cat licked my hand, telling me just how happy it was to see me.

At another address I had another wild one living under my house. It picked off my pets one by one and I'd see the carcasses lining the riverbed. Occassionally I was immediately made aware of its presence by it standing up under the floor, lifting me an inch or so. but I never saw it.

I have had good and I have had bad, but experience has taught me that cats do not care about me, big cats want to eat me and if I am wanting something bad for me, it says more about me than it does the cat.

angus on November 03, 2017:

You say you agree with many of the concerns for the animal and then weight your desire as more important. Really loving something would mean doing what's best for it.

Riggs on September 07, 2017:

Anyone can keep an animal but not everyone should, exotic or otherwise. Like it or not with the world as it is we're going to face the choice of integrating exotic animals into every day society or lose them entirely one day. Regardless if it means domestication programs or new regulations supporting animal care, I am more supportive of private ownership than I am zoos at this point because THAT is shitty way to live. It's not hard to fuck up caring for a dog but many people do abuse them too. To quote the OP "The key to taking on a large exotic animal is to know what the risks are and to take precautions." this is animal husbandry 101 and applies to any animal including cats and dogs. It's it's not about looking at the people who shouldn't keep animals in the first place, it's about spreading awareness about the people who actually know what they're doing. Maybe people who actually give a shit can support these animals if changes are made.

chuck on July 23, 2017:

Owning a pet cougar seems fine to me. Many pet cougars I've seen in videos look happy and loved. I see nothing cruel in providing a life like that for them.

Jessica on July 02, 2017:

I absolutely think it's the most wanton selfish idea for you to own a puma because you'd like too! Flat out rude, self possessed and just disgusting! If you love something, you need to OWN it? You're buying a slave? Stop it. If you truly love this species, then give it the respect and love it deserves.

Robert Dawson on May 05, 2017:

This magnificent creature is a ferocious predator. Nature intended it to be in the wild. These people who have mountain lions as pets are wonderful with a heart of gold, but there is the possibility of it ripping out your throat. " Big cats " should not be allowed as pets in any state, pure and simple.

Annetta on January 31, 2017:

I'm writing a story about a young girl who befriends a giant mountain lion. I'm so jealous of her. It would be fun to interact with a mountain lion, but I realize that I could never own one because I just don't have the resources and time to invest in it.

Cory on January 28, 2017:

This is a good read, I know how this is first hand, my aunt has had several big cats and me fascinated by them have spent a lot of time out there growing up to watch them and see how they act. They currently have a female couger and it is an amazing animal. I have seen when them feed her and I have seen them play with her. She didn't sleep inside the house with them but she did have a barn with a gate that she could go in and out when she wanted to. I have not been inside with her and not sure if I would, for the reason is that I wasn't around when they got her and I wasn't around when she was growing up. I didn't start going out there into she was around 2 years of age. I can around ways put you in touch with her and she could answer about anything that you would ever want to know about big cats.

Moving on, I feel that it is okay to own a wild animals for several reasons. Based on the history of humans and animals interactions, all animals that humans have domesticated have been wild at some time. The dog wasn't born like it is now and we didn't just wake up one day and we have dogs that helped us. We have had to change them over time to live with us. Everyone would say that a wolf is a wild animals, okay I can see that. But where did a dog come from? Let me help you, it came from the wolf and over years of selected breeding we have changed the wolf to the dogs that we know now. It's the same has house cats, at some point a wild cat was brought in as a pet and was domesticated to be a pet.

So in turn every single animal was taken from the wild and turned into the Pets we know now. Now does this apply to big cats, in time maybe we could do it to them as well, as of right now they are wild and we are taking them as pets. Time will only tell.

I think that having an animal like this and taking care of it is fine, as long as the pet is treated with respect and understanding. I don't believe that you should take the claws out of this animal, unless you are going to make sure that it will never need to use them. Wild animals are wild and we as humans have always taken them in and changed them to fit us. Should we do that is another question all together. But with big cats dying all the time, this might be the only way to keep them from going extinct. I love animals and we need to protect them and stop the endless killing for them. Nature is so amazing and we should protect it. If that means taken them in as pets then so be it.

miaous on December 20, 2016:

U should never touch a cats claws!! if u dont like scratches then get a dog. cats claws in ur skin is a sign of love and affection. if u dont understand that then dont get one. whoever think of doing that should be send to Guantanamo Bay.

YouCrazy on September 26, 2016:

You're a lunatic.

A dead cat in the wild is better than it rotting in your living room its entire life. Where it can maul you.

What insane hole do you have in your soul that you feel the need to fill with a wild animal, that has no place in your home?

Datrebor on September 12, 2016:

What do you feed your Cougar?

It's a beautiful cat but I am not one that would take one in. I don't think I have what is needed to care for one properly. Although I did have a 5" boa constrictor and a pair of rats. Not at the same time.

parakeetlover on June 23, 2016:

I agree with you, mostly. I do think that big cats are cool and can be kept as pets, but if I were to get a big cat I would have it declawed if not for the simple fact that there would be less of a chance of it hunting me. But I do see your point.

AFutureCougarOwner on May 03, 2016:

81% of people said they would consider adopting a Cougar.

0.5% actually will. That 0.5% is me...

oliver on April 25, 2016:

I believe most people "own" an exotic animal for the wrong reasons.

If you are prepared to respect it and really accept it as a part of your family then you would never consider de clawing (or amputating). They are dangerous anyway with a jaw like that.

I love the head rub gesture from cats. You probably know that is their way of accepting YOU as family and they would never have you amputated.

Also (not meaning to be so picky) but I would consider changing the word "Own". You never really "own" any creature just as no other creature "owns" you. You are your own person right? so are they. They are emotionally intelligent and extremely sensitive (almost magically) in ways that we do not even know exist. 

Shannon Perry from HENDERSONVILLE on April 04, 2015:

Very nicely done! I'm researching exotic pet ownership as well (for me, it's either a bobcat or lynx) and that's how I came here. A lot of people have a hard time with exotic pet ownership because they say that "wild animals should be wild" but the fact is that that's not working out that well for some of them (tigers and poaching, for instance).

If I might make a suggestion: If moving is a possibility for you, I'd suggest Florida. For the time being at least (animal rights activists are getting into politics, so I can't speak for the future), their laws are great about permitting ownership and ensuring that owners know enough about their breed and can care for them. I know some states out west are exotic friendly too (Wyoming I believe, and Nevada to name a few), though I'm not as familiar with their laws as I am with Florida.

As far as declawing goes....I used to be stoutly against it. Period. And, I still am with domestics because I just don't think it can be justified. A friend of mine who keeps exotics raised an important point that made me reconsider it for bigger cats, though.

I still don't like it, but we both know what happens if some moron fails to obey your warnings and comes in like they are the cat whisperer...ultimately it won't end well for the cat because their life would be put in jeopardy for defending themselves against said moron. If they are declawed...maybe it won't end up that way. It still turns my stomach a bit, but I understand.

Anyway! Very well written and good luck! I hope eventually you have a four-legged, furry, forty pound feline family member!

tracey on March 18, 2015:

I had a cougar for fifteen years it was raised with my four children i have had all kinds of exotic pets snakes aligators bobcats skunks my cougar was by far the best pet i ever had it would sleep with my kids every night they would fight over who's turn it was to sleep with him he had his claws and free range of the house the kids would take him out in the yard and play with him i trusted him with are lives and he never maid me regret it he was raised with three bulldogs i think he thought he was a bull dog we loved and miss him

RaeAnn (Oregon) on October 17, 2014:

My passion is find a cougar cub and raise it, I understand the risks, costs and responsibilities of owning a large cat..I'm continuing to read and research the family and friends think I'm crazy ...

Dan on October 09, 2014:

I was very confused when you keep saying that the first digit is removed during de-clawing , that would be equivalent to removal of the thumb. I believe the words you are looking for is distal phalanx of each digit.

That said I fully support ownership of big cats by those who have the means to provide an appropriate environment. Good luck

anonymous on May 09, 2013:

FYI Cougars may be similar weight to a human but they have many X the strength. Its an animal that can leap to a ledge 18ft in the air and can leap forward up to 38 ft.Imagine how strong you would have to be to do it? They kill man size animals with a bite to the back of the neck separating the neck vertebra and penetrating the spinal column.Wild felines can fiercely poss. of inanimate objects. Accidentally stepping on a big cats tail or foot can earn retaliation vs domestic animals wimper or run away. People are making a mistake declawing any big cat as it results in lifelong pain, more aggression and more use of the jaws.It gives the owner a more irritable cat. If you like aggressive big cats declaw them. Just bc. its not the same as a leopard or tiger does not mean it can't kill you.They can kill animals bigger and tougher than any man. Go on u tube and enter mountain "lion kills" you can watch vids. of cougar killing 160 class mule deer (approx 300lb) and a part grown moose. A person needs a continual supply of meat and vitamin supplements to keep a cougar healthy. Wild felines need but rarely get the special care they need from private owners. They live long lives 16 to in some cases 30 years in captivity under proper care. Cougars bred in captivity cannot go back to the wild. If the honeymoon is over and it does not work out usually something tragic happens to the animal.They do spray, can't be litter trained and cannot be in a home unsupervised as they will knock over your stuff. You won't likely find any breeders advert. that are not fake western union scams as nobody wants the liability of being a breeder of these for private owners. People who have big cats have to probe the cats mood before entering their enclosure. It does no good to ask "Can I come in." Kevin Richardson learned the hard way when he was almost killed upon entering an enclosure. He now calls his Lions over to him and feels their mood if they are having a good day. I know I've had house cats that would have put me in the ER or a pine box if they were bigger just bc I was petting them on a day they didn't want to be messed with.

Carpenter76 on March 23, 2013:

I really think wild animals should be in the wild. But when they are taken from people that can't handle them and they can't be put in the wild it's okay. It depends on the situation. In the videos I see a cougar that really adores his owner. Lovely!

Everyday-Miracles (author) on March 17, 2013:

@Lady Lorelei: Some species are disappearing in the wild that would otherwise be bred in captivity, thereby decreasing their chances of becoming extinct in the wild. This is something that has happened with small wildcat species in the past, and the results are generally tragic.

Territories are being eaten alive by various factors, and conservation requires that we allow room for private efforts to maintain these species.

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on March 17, 2013:

I think exotic pets are best left in the wild but then of course one also has to consider that with their territory being increasingly taken up some animals may be better off in an appropriate home setting.

Everyday-Miracles (author) on February 11, 2013:

@vineliner57: I don't think that they're legal here in Indiana, though I haven't looked into the local laws. They *were* in Ohio, but I believe that a law was recently passed outlawing the private ownership of cougars. These laws are encroaching, and it's sad, since private owners do quite a bit in terms of conservation efforts.

I haven't heard of any cougars here in Central Indiana, but of course I'm right in the heart of Indianapolis!

Hal Gall from Bloomington, IN on February 11, 2013:

We have a lot of cougars here in Southern Indiana. As a matter of fact, the mascots of the 2 local High Schools are the Panthers and the Cougars!

anonymous on August 03, 2012:

Lovely videos. Lovely site! After learning that cougars are similar to "small" cats and not to lions or the true panthers I have been browsing the net on info about them. Carry on people and cats :)

anonymous on April 21, 2012:

I love your lens. I have raised cougars for over 20 years. These are cougars that came from breaders who could no longer continue raising them. Cougars are like people they have different personalities and moods. They can be loving and some in the next moment revert to their wild instincts. You need to read them indepentently react accordingly. Cougher are and have always been the love of my life.

anonymous on March 27, 2012:

@anonymous: I can´t say that keeping a cougar as a pet would contribute to maintaining their species (unless it's a Puma concolor coryi or Puma concolor cougar) as it is very well the case with many other exotic pets like tigers. But you can´t compare a captive cougar to a wild cougar either, or any animal for that matter - it´s a fact that if you didn´t have this cat as a pet, it wouldn´t be a wild animal, but rather never have been born.

And as long as the cat is healthy and entertained aka happy with it´s environement, i don´t see a problem with exotics for my part. Of course it is a matter of discussion where "happy" begins.

anonymous on March 27, 2012:

I have to say I am one of those people who thinks that this type of animal should not be kept as a pet. They need to be free and roam in the wild as nature intended. I guess I might be persuaded if your backyard was as big as the natural roaming range of a cougar :)

Everyday-Miracles (author) on March 26, 2012:

@Coreena Jolene: I just commented on your profile page about this. I've got an upcoming lens that will say a lot on this issue.

Coreena Jolene on March 26, 2012:

Did you see the link of saveoursavannahs on my Bengal Cat and Savannah Cat lens you visited? They are trying to pass a really strict law in Ohio to ban all exotics and hybrids. I don't know where you live, but I hope you can live somewhere to fulfill your dream.

anonymous on February 29, 2012:

As a cat lover, I have always been fascinated by the idea of owning a large cat. I have had some domestic cats that could play a bit rough and imagining that on a larger scale usually put an end to any flirtation with owing a big cat. That said, I would love to visit with someone else's big cat just to have the experience of seeing such a majestic creature up close.

anonymous on February 04, 2012:

Have you decided on getting one or not getting one yet? It would be cool if you could tell us some updates ;)

I myself am planning on keeping a cougar (Europe) by the end of this year, maybe we can exchange expreiences/progress. Wish you all the best!

anonymous on November 27, 2011:

Thanks a lot for the great resources and personal views, I've been looking for information everywhere!

You'll be a great cougar owner. :)

gogolf162 on September 23, 2011:

Interesting lens. I did not know so much about cougars before.

Nathalie Roy from France (Canadian expat) on September 14, 2011:

Blessed by a squid angel. i don't think all wild animals belong to the wild and feel sad for those who have been domesticated. A wild animal remains a wild animal, not a pet.

anonymous on September 10, 2011:

so which petsmart or petcetera can i pick one up at?

JoshK47 on June 29, 2011:

Quite an interesting lens - good work.

Tolovaj Publishing House from Ljubljana on June 28, 2011:

I understand we (humans) still have a need to relate with nature and having a pet is surely one option. I really don't think an exotic pet (especially this size) is good idea, but every story has at least two sides. So... I am waiting for sequels! How your pet adapted to your home? How your neighbours adapted to your pet? Anything funny happened? I bet it has! Thanks for sharing!

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on May 24, 2011:

Growing up in the deep country backwoods I of course wish that all animals could be free to roam and run as they should. Unfortunately in today's world and with the endangerment of species that is of course not always possible. Very interesting read as are all your articles.

Everyday-Miracles (author) on May 20, 2011:

@anonymous: Thank you Susie! We're in no rush to make this happen, and depending on circumstances, it still might not. If I had the opportunity to help an ocelot, I think that would come first. Their plight in the wild is quite dire, and it's unlikely that we could do much with Florida Panthers (which I believe are the only endangered subspecies of Panther in the US).

Captive breeding does a lot to help ensure the survival of endangered species, and a lot of opponents don't consider the consequences of ceasing the captive breeding programs.

I really want to do my experience somewhere that has lions. :)

anonymous on May 20, 2011:

Those are quite the videos and definitely show affection and respect in relationship, something that just be argued. It sounds to me like, if anyone your have a big cat, it would be you and your husband. I would say that it is a commitment that your aren't taking lightly in any manner and I wish you well in fulfilling your hearts desires. There are some among us that just have a love beyond understanding for other species.

moonlitta on May 17, 2011:

Joy Adamson, Elsa and Pipa were my favorite as a child! Angel blessed.

LeoRizzuti on May 17, 2011:

"If you do not want your cat to have claws, you do not want a cat. Get something that doesn't have feet. Maybe a nice snake." That was actually pretty funny (although my idea of "pretty funny" has been questioned at times). Would have been funnier if you had said "Get something that doesn't have feet. Maybe a nice fish. Or perhaps something pet-rock-ish." Just an idea brought on by sleep deprivation.

Vladimir from Australia on May 16, 2011:

Cougars are wild animals, not pets for people

anonymous on May 15, 2011:

A pretty cool idea. Best wishes for you.