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Puma vs. Leopard: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 3, 2023
Pumas are large, solitary cats found primarily in the Americas, known for their agility and strength. Leopards are distinctive for their rosette-patterned coat and are native to parts of Africa and Asia.

Key Differences

Pumas, also known as cougars or mountain lions, are native to the Americas. They are adaptable and can live in various environments. While, leopards are smaller than pumas and are known for their spotted coat, which provides camouflage in their African and Asian habitats.
Pumas are one of the largest cat species in the Americas and are known for their powerful build. However, leopards are famed for their ability to climb trees and are often seen resting on branches.
The diet of a puma mainly includes deer and smaller animals. In contrast, leopards have a broader diet, which can include large prey like antelopes as well as smaller animals.
Pumas are generally uniform in color, ranging from light brown to reddish or grey. Leopards have a golden-yellow base coat with distinct black rosettes and spots.
In terms of behavior, pumas are solitary and have large territories. Leopards are also solitary but are known for their stealth and are more likely to be found near water sources than pumas.

Comparison Chart

Geographic Range

Africa and parts of Asia

Physical Appearance

Large, uniform color
Smaller, spotted coat

Habitat Adaptability

Diverse environments
Prefers woodland and grassland

Climbing Ability

Less adept
Excellent climbers


Primarily deer and small animals
Includes large and small prey

Puma and Leopard Definitions


Characterized by its agility and strength.
The puma leaped effortlessly over the rocky terrain.


A big cat known for its rosette-patterned coat.
The leopard's spotted coat provides excellent camouflage.


Known as a cougar or mountain lion in different regions.
In North America, the puma is often called a mountain lion.


Native to parts of Africa and Asia.
Leopards in Asia are often more elusive than their African counterparts.


Solitary with a large territorial range.
This puma roams over a vast territory in search of prey.


Solitary and stealthy predator.
The leopard silently stalked its prey through the grassland.


A large solitary cat predominantly found in the Americas.
The puma is an apex predator in its mountainous habitat.


Notable for its climbing skills and strength.
The leopard dragged its prey up the tree with ease.


Typically uniform in color, ranging from brown to grey.
A puma's coat blends well with the autumn forest.


Has a diverse diet, including large and small animals.
Leopards are adaptable hunters, feeding on a variety of prey.


See cougar.


A large wild cat (Panthera pardus) of Africa and southern Asia, having either tawny fur with dark rosettelike markings or black fur.


A mountain lion or cougar (Puma concolor).


Any of several similar felines, such as the cheetah or the snow leopard.


(by extension) Any feline belonging to the genus Puma.


(Heraldry) A lion in side view, having one forepaw raised and the head facing the observer.


(slang) A woman in her 20s or 30s who seeks relationships with younger men; a younger cougar.


Panthera pardus, a large wild cat with a spotted coat native to Africa and Asia, especially the male of the species (in contrast to leopardess).


A large American carnivore (Felis concolor), found from Canada to Patagonia, especially among the mountains. Its color is tawny, or brownish yellow, without spots or stripes. Called also catamount, cougar, American lion, mountain lion, and panther or painter.


(inexact) A similar-looking, large wild cat named after the leopard.


Large American feline resembling a lion


The clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), a large wild cat native to Asia.


The snow leopard (Panthera uncia), a large wild cat native to Asia.


(heraldry) A lion passant guardant.


Any of various nymphalid butterflies of the genus Phalanta, having black markings on an orange base.


A large, savage, carnivorous mammal (Felis leopardus). It is of a yellow or fawn color, with rings or roselike clusters of black spots along the back and sides. It is found in Southern Asia and Africa. By some the panther (Felis pardus) is regarded as a variety of leopard.


The pelt of a leopard


Large feline of African and Asian forests usually having a tawny coat with black spots


Are pumas good climbers?

Pumas can climb but are not as adept as leopards.

What is the typical habitat of a puma?

Pumas inhabit a range of environments, from forests to mountains.

Do leopards live in groups?

Leopards are solitary animals, like pumas.

Where can pumas be found?

Pumas are found in the Americas, from Canada to South America.

How large are puma territories?

Puma territories can be very large, depending on food availability.

What distinguishes a leopard’s coat?

Leopards have a distinct coat with rosette patterns.

What is the main prey of leopards?

Leopards hunt various prey, from antelopes to birds.

Are pumas endangered?

Puma populations vary; some are stable, while others are at risk.

Can leopards swim?

Yes, leopards are capable swimmers.

Do leopards have any natural predators?

Adult leopards have few natural predators but must guard against lions and hyenas.

Is the puma the same as a cougar?

Yes, puma and cougar are different names for the same animal.

Do pumas have a particular mating season?

Pumas do not have a strict mating season; it varies by region.

Are pumas solitary hunters?

Yes, pumas are solitary and hunt alone.

What is the conservation status of leopards?

Leopard populations vary; some are endangered, while others are more stable.

How do leopards hunt?

Leopards use stealth and strength to ambush prey.

Are leopards active at night?

Leopards are primarily nocturnal, active at night.

What is the size of a puma compared to a leopard?

Pumas are generally larger and heavier than leopards.

How long do leopards live in the wild?

Leopards typically live 12-17 years in the wild.

Can pumas roar?

Pumas cannot roar; they make growls and hisses.

Do leopards climb trees?

Yes, leopards are excellent climbers and often rest in trees.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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