Mountain Lions’ Grooming and Bathing

The mountain lion (Puma concolor) can be found in North and South America. They are very adaptable animals who can live in different ecosystems, from coastal forests to open deserts. 

These felines also have nice tawny-beige colored fur with some white or gray on their belly and chests. Their coats grow thicker during the cold winter and have thinner coats in the summer. 

As a member of the cat family, mountain lions are known for keeping their bodies nice and clean. These felines are truly hygienic animals. But how do they bathe and groom themselves?

Let us learn about all the ways these furry animals clean themselves here on Floofmania. Let’s go!

Are Mountain Lions Clean Animals?

Mountain lion sitting on a rock surface.

Cats in general are known for their cleanliness. You can often see one lying down while licking itself. Mountain lions are no different. Like their feline relatives, these fellas are able to clean themselves so, we can say that they are clean animals

They live in the wild and are exposed to a lot of elements like dirt, carcasses, and other stuff you can find in their natural habitat. But they constantly clean and groom their bodies like there’s no tomorrow.

Do Mountain Lions Smell Bad?

All animals have a unique scent that humans may not be used to. Their environment, behavior, and physical characteristics affect the way they smell.

But even though mountain lions like cleaning themselves often, they do smell bad because of their scent-marking behavior. They use their urine and poop to scent mark and release pheromones or chemical signals to communicate with other mountain lions and warn other animals. 

Fact: Mountain lions are territorial and they use scent marking to let other animals and mountain lions know about their boundaries. They also use it to attract mates during the breeding season.

Of course, their pee and poop have a nasty smell that may follow them around. If you have smelled cat pee from your pet or around the neighborhood, their scent might be close to that, but a little stronger. However, the mountain lion seems unbothered by their body odor. After all, these furry animals have quite a poor sense of smell.

How Do Mountain Lions Clean Themselves?

Mountain lions clean themselves in several ways. They do it by:

  • Licking their fur
  • Biting their bodies
  • Rubbing their face

Mountain lions usually use their tongues to clean themselves. Like other felines, these big cats lick their bodies to clean and groom their coats. They will lick every part of their body that they can reach.

Cat tongues are special. Its surface is rough and filled with sharp spines called filiform papillae. These spines are curved towards the feline’s back, ensuring a better grip on strands of hair. You can think of it as their personal, built-in hairbrush. 

These fascinating papillae act like miniature hooks, enabling mountain lions to get rid of dirt and other debris from their fur. The papillae also aid in bringing saliva to the roots of their hair. As the feline licks it, the fur is compressed by the tongue and the papillae can reach the roots, ensuring that most foreign objects are removed.

The way they groom themselves with their rough tongue also untangles their fur. This is important because matted hair can cause painful tugging of the skin and can later on cause infections.

Fact: Long-haired felines like Persian cats tend to have matted hair because their tongue’s papillae are not long enough to groom their fur properly.

In addition, mountain lions also bite their bodies and rub their faces using their front legs which also helps remove debris from their fur. They first lick their paws or front legs before rubbing them on their faces.

Check out this video of a mountain lion grooming itself.

Do Mountain Lions Bathe In Water?

Mountain lions do not bathe in water. Even though they are quite good at swimming, these felines do not take baths in water. Instead, they use their special tongues to lick themselves clean.

Moreover, bathing or dipping in water would mean that their fur would get wet. If that happens, all their scent will be washed away and they will have to lick their bodies again. Maintaining their unique scent is essential because it helps them remain undetected by their prey.

How Long Do Mountain Lions Spend Grooming Themselves?

Domestic cats spend about 30 to 50 percent of their time awake grooming themselves and mountain lions likely spend the same amount of time. These fellas often clean their bodies after a delicious meal. You can spot them lying down in one area while licking their paws, legs, and other parts of their bodies. They like keeping everything squeaky clean.

Do Mountain Lions Get Hairballs Like Housecats?

Larger cats like mountain lions also get hairballs because they groom themselves in the same way as housecats do. They use their powerful tongues to lick their fur and loose hair can get into their mouths and get swallowed. 

Unfortunately, hair cannot be digested by cats so, they either cough, vomit, or poop hairballs out of their systems. So, mountain lions can have trouble with hairballs from time to time. Although, there have been no reports of witnessing a mountain lion cough up a hairball as housecats do.

Some experts think that this is because of the difference in their diet. Housecats usually eat processed food while big cats like the mountain lion eat raw meat. Housecats eating processed food may be the reason why they can cough up nasty hairballs.

Nevertheless, hairballs stuck in a mountain lion’s stomach can get dangerous. It can badly affect their digestive system and cause loss of appetite.

Why Is Grooming Important For Mountain Lions?

Mountain lions are exposed to many disease-causing elements and organisms in the wild. Besides grooming their bodies for cleanliness, it helps mountain lions keep their fur free from parasites. Parasites like ticks which are abundant in their natural habitat can cause illness. 

Grooming can also help untangle fur. Matted fur can cause wounds and infections so, grooming keeps them from having those problems.

Maintaining their fur also helps them stay away from other predators. Licking their bodies helps hide their scent from their prey or other animals who might want to harm them. 

Mountain lions are hunters and they rely on their stealth and sneaky tactics to ambush their prey. So, remaining undetected is essential.

Maintaining and grooming their fur also helps these furry animals regulate their body temperature. The saliva that they spread on their bodies helps cool them down. Their skin and topcoat can have up to a 17-degree celsius difference in temperature as the saliva put on their fur evaporates.

Do Mountain Lions Help Groom Each Other?

Yes, mountain lions help groom each other. Even though these mysterious felines are known as solitary animals they can be seen interacting with each other and often helping their family members groom.

Baby mountain lions stay with their mothers until they are about 1-2 years old. Meanwhile, the father mountain lion leaves immediately after breeding and does not help in child-rearing.

A mother mountain lion cares for her kittens during this time and that includes making sure that her young are squeaky clean. So, it is not uncommon to see a mother mountain lion licking her kittens. That is her way of helping her little ones keep a clean and healthy body and away from other predators. 

Young mountain lions are also seen helping their siblings groom. We can say that it’s their form of family bonding or socialization skills.

Author: Jomvie Reyes

Jomvie has been a writer for over 10 years and animals and wildlife are among his favorite topics. Learning and writing about the vast and diverse wildlife from all over the world, is more of a hobby than a job for him. Jomvie loves to watch and observe these remarkable species up close and personal.

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