Cats are beautiful and dangerous. Tourists who want to experience the real-life dramas that come with these apex predators often consider going on safaris or visiting parks in Africa or Eurasia.
But if those tourists are from the Americas, they could see similar things at home. The New World’s large and small cats may not have the global fame of lions, tigers, and cheetahs, but their way of life is much the same. Ordinary people have witnessed some amazing events associated with wild American cats, while professionals have inched even closer.
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10 Mary’s Peak Encounter
One day, this person was just visiting the scenic wilderness of Mary’s Peak near Corvallis, Oregon, when this happened.
Seeing a large cat make a kill right in front of you is something that you would only expect to experience in places like the Serengeti, not a few miles from home!
Lesson learned: Always keep your phone charged, and have extra batteries on hand!
9 Mountain Lion In Heat
Here is a professional guide who is awed by the sounds echoing through the woods around him.
What would you do if you heard something like that? (Probably not turn to the camera and whisper “mountain lion in heat.”) Mountain lions (aka cougars or pumas) are included as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
However, these are not the only terrifying sounds made by wild cats in the Americas.
8 Lynx Males Screaming At Each Other In Tree
Even without the suggested earphones, this is jarring.
These blood-chilling screams are a good way for the males to compete for a she-cat’s favors without risking harm in a physical fight. Although the males tangled a bit, each one survived the encounter. Of course, both had been at risk of falling.
The question is: What was the winning move? Not position. The cat on top lost the battle.
Did the other lynx have a louder yell? More teeth bared? Fancier footwork on the branches? We’ll never know.
Fortunately, outside of mating season, Canada lynxes are a little more approachable.
7 Lynx And Cameraman Have Working Relationship
It’s difficult to say which one is more hardcore here—the cameraman who kept at it through Canadian snow for almost 80 days or Mad Max, the lynx.
This time, it’s a win-win situation for cat and man. Mad Max got his meal. The cameraman took some unique footage and enjoyed the best day of his life.
Canada lynxes are also on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as “Least Concern.” Together with the bobcat, they belong to one of the few intercontinental feline lineages. Their Old World relatives are the Iberian lynx and the Eurasian lynx.
6 Jaguarundi And Monkey
This common, small, Latin American wild cat is one of the least-known cats to residents of North America.
In this video, it’s not an otter going up the tree. That’s the jaguarundi. They’re built long and low to the ground with a very long tail. (Despite the name, they’re more closely related to mountain lions than to jaguars.)
You might want to take off the earphones for this video. It is a little horrifying—partly because it’s a kill but more because of the hapless victim’s screams and the predator’s harsh yowls. Also, this killer cat does not care that humans are nearby.
Jaguarundis, red-listed as “Least Concern,” usually hunt on the ground, which is another reason why this video is special.
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5 Jaguars vs. Otters
Jaguars are the only big cat that’s native to the Americas. At one time, they inhabited parts of what is now the United States, but today, they only live wild in Latin America.
Jaguars are excellent swimmers, but these two don’t want to go into the water!
What makes this especially hardcore (and hilarious) is that the jaguars are being laughed at by Panthera personnel.
By the way, those giant otters are endangered. This was probably just a learning experience for the young cats. No one laughs at a hungry adult jaguar.
4 Jaguar And Caiman
Jaguars are powerfully built and have massive jaw muscles. They can eat almost anything they want, including cattle. But in many parts of South America, caimans—relatives of the crocodile—are the favorite food of jaguars.
As we see in this video, the jaguar is good at sneaking up on a careless caiman that ventures a little too close to shore.
Jaguars have “Near Threatened” status on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, though they are rarer in some parts of their range. Caimans are considered “Unspecified.”
3 Andean Mountain Cat On The Prowl
At first glance, this is just a small, fuzzy-looking cat. However, two facts make this video especially impressive.
First, as this is the Andes above the tree line, many of those rocky surfaces are nearly vertical—and this doesn’t seem to faze the cat. It carries on its restless search for food at a steady pace regardless of the slope.
Second, it is a huge achievement that they are now getting videos like this. Until recently (when digital cameras became a thing), no one could be sure whether the rare Andean cat was still around or had gone extinct. Only native people reported seeing it.
Andean cats are “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Experts aren’t sure where this mysterious little species fits into the cat family. For many decades, conservationists could only study a few pelts and some stuffed specimens. Thanks to modern technology and field evidence like this video, our understanding of Andean cats is improving.
2 Oncilla On The Prowl
What’s so hardcore about this camera trap video?
First, the oncilla (aka the northern tiger cat) is red-listed as “Vulnerable.” That means it’s at high risk of extinction.
Next, the pointy-nosed, feisty critter taken down by the oncilla is either a grison (Latin America’s version of the wolverine) or a coati (a species that snacks upon rattlesnakes, among other things).
They are both hard fighters, though only one looks like a pretty little house cat.
Finally, after murdering a rodent for dessert, the oncilla goes right back into adorable mode. Then it wanders off into the night to commit more mayhem, and we can only go, “Aww, how cute!”
Do not show this video to any friends who are already convinced that cats are all psychopaths.
1Mountain Lion Raising A Family
You can’t get much more hardcore than this.
Other than lions, most cats are solitary and just get together briefly during breeding season. Females then do the rest, bearing the young and feeding and guarding them for months to years.
During this time, Mom must do her regular hunting as well as catch more food to feed her family. Typically, the male doesn’t help her and is often a threat to the cubs.
The encounter with the cub’s father is just one of the awesome things about this video.
The young male’s eventual fate is sad. Over the long run, though, this tendency for male cats to disperse has helped mountain lions spread throughout the Americas.
It’s always a risk to set off on your own, but it has paid off. Today, as a species, mountain lions range through more latitude than any other mammal in the Americas.
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