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Saturday, November 17, 2018

Caturday: A Mountain Lion Mother Herding her Kittens

I was stunned when I visited a trail camera recently. As I looked at the tiny LCD viewfinder, I saw a thin mountain lion come into view.

Then, I saw movement around her feet and heard a high pitched whistle.

 Finally, I realized that three kittens were walking under her paws.

I didn't realize that the mother mountain lion had a serious looking wound on her left hind limb until I looked at the footage on my computer screen (you can barely see the wound in the second photo above and it is clear in the video). That made me so very sad. I hope that she makes it. Her kittens certainly won't make it if she is unable to hunt. On the bright side, she didn't appear to be limping.

The video made me realize how hard "herding cats" is. This mother was trying very hard to herd her kittens and keep them together. Her high pitched vocalizations help her with that tough job.

For comparison, here is another mountain lion walking in exactly the same spot days later. This lion has a normal amount of bulk.

The timing is about right for the "amorous mountain lion pair" who we observed back in June to be the parents of these kittens. You might remember this pair at a water hole together, and the female telling the male to back off while she had a drink.

Gestation is about 3 months. The kittens are born in a den and stay there for the first 6 weeks of their lives. After that, their mother takes them out into the world... and I suspect that the kittens in the video haven't been out of the den for very long. If you're interested, there's a great article about mountain lion kittens.

Here is the video. It starts with a quick flashback to late June when the parents were together and then quickly fast-forwards to the kittens. Be sure to have your volume turned on.


  1. so very sad the mother is so thin, I do hope she and her kittens will be fine until they are grown. winter is a tough time I would think. I laughed out loud at the female lion and her growls.. they are all so beautiful.

  2. Those kittens know the Mama is the boss!

  3. Oh that is very sad, hopefully she and her kittens will pull through. Tough times ahead though for sure. Fingers crossed to the family.

  4. Oooh - that is a nasty wound! We hope that the mountain lion family makes it through this cold winter season.

  5. Our first thought was 'herding cats', but it looks like the mother has it under control. Hope the wound heals quickly, too.

  6. Oh no...I see the wound. My goodness me. I hope and pray it heals and she is able to stay healthy for herself and the beautiful triplets.
    Hugs Cecilia

  7. It appears to be a fresh wound. But doesnt seen to affect her mobility too much. IF she can find food for her and the kittens, they might all make it. For the first time I am hoping you have a mild winter......

  8. I think it might be typical of some wildlife mamas to be on the thin side? I also think wildlife is probably a lot more resilient than we think; plus this mama has plenty of motivation to heal!
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

  9. We saw the kittens with Mom on Instagram. We are so sorry for that nasty wound. Hopefully she will be able to heal and care for her little ones.

  10. Oh we hope the mama will be Ok
    Hazel & Mabel

  11. Oh, I hope this family makes it! Lovely mama and darling babies.

  12. Such an amazing video. We have our paws crossed that the mom and babies survive the winter.

  13. What a great video, triplets, any mother would find them a handful, and in the wild I hope she copes and heals.

  14. Oh, that tear makes me sad too. I hope she can hunt soon and feed them all, including herself. Pregnancy can be hard on a mom and leave them quite thin and malnurished. Such pretty kittens. Thank you.

  15. Here's hoping the wound heals quickly and completely. Great footage!


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