Sounds That Mountain Lions Make And What They Mean

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Published on June 22, 2022
Last Updated on October 12, 2023

Big cats make some of the most notorious sounds in the animal kingdom. From an adorable purr to a terrifying roar, cats communicate in a number of ways. Interestingly, mountain lions have unique noises and communication styles that are unique to this species.

For example, did you know that mountain lions are not capable of roaring like other big cats? Instead, mountain lions sound a lot like a regular house cats, just a bit louder. They also communicate in a number of other ways, such as through body language and smell.

To learn more about how mountain lions communicate, keep reading. This guide covers all of the most important communication styles of mountain lions and what you should do if you hear a mountain lion during your own adventures. Let’s get started.

How Do Mountain Lions Communicate?

Mountain Lions communicate in a number of different ways. They communicate through sounds, such as hisses, purrs, growls, and screams. They also communicate through touch, scent-marking, and body language when communicating with other mountain lions specifically.

The most obvious way that mountain lions communicate with one another and other animals is through sounds. Adult mountain lions will hiss, growl, and scream in negative circumstances. Much like domesticated cats, they will purr whenever they are happy.

Although sound is the most obvious way that mountain lions communicate, they communicate in other ways as well. For example, touch is an important way that mothers and cubs communicate with one another. Touch establishes social bonding between the mothers and cubs, which allows the cubs to grow healthily.

A unique way that mountain lions communicate, which is strange to us, is through scent marking. Many species scent-mark as a way to express territorial boundaries and mating. Mountain lions are examples of species that use territory marking as a form of communication.

Of course, Mountain Lions also communicate through body language. This is a common form of communication amongst most animals. How mountain lions hold their eyes and bodies express a lot to other mountain lions and animals.

Do Mountain Lions Make A Lot Of Noises?

Mountain lions make a lot of noises, but they may not be audible or noticeable at first. Whenever mountain lions are in the woods, they make as little noise as possible in order to sneak up on their prey. Whenever they decide to make noises, they often sound like a person whistling or a bird chirping. The growls are about the sound of an overgrown housecat.

Kittens have a slightly different sound. Often, kittens have a raspy or loud purr. If you are close enough to hear the kittens make noises, you are likely close enough to hear the mother mountain lion growl and protect its young.

If you hear a bloodcurdling scream, it is most likely not a mountain lion. Even though mountain lions can make a variety of noises, they are normally not loud unless they are mating or fighting each other, which is relatively uncommon.

In other words, mountain lions make a lot of noises, but they often aren’t loud. You have to be very close to the mountain lion in order to hear its different noises and vocalizations. It is not recommended to get close enough to the mountain lion to listen to these vocalizations since these creatures are dangerous.

Do Mountain Lions Communicate In Other Ways Than Sounds?

Some of the most important ways that mountain lions communicate is through ways other than sounds. Mountain lions communicate with one another through touch, smell, and even sight. In many circumstances, these non-audible communications are more telling than the sounds they make.

From a young age, touch is one of the most important ways that mountain lions communicate. The touch between the mother and the cub is what begins the establishment of social bonding amongst the creatures. As mountain lions get older, touch is more reserved, but it can tell a lot about the mountain lion.

From the time the mountain lion is a cub to the time it is geriatric, smell is the most important communication mode. Mountain lions will mark their territory with special scents and their urine. Other mountain lions can smell this scent in order to pick up territory or to determine if another mountain lion in the area is ready to mate.

Communication through sight occurs throughout the entire mountain lion’s life as well. Holding eye contact is a way of establishing dominance. Mountain lions will even hold their body in a different position before they are ready to pounce. Mountain lions recognize this visible communication and will respond accordingly.

When Do Mountain Lions Vocalize The Most? (Night, Day, Season, etc)

Mountain lions vocalize the most during mating. Because there is no specific mating season for mountain lions, mating sounds can happen any time of year.

Male lions are most likely to vocalize whenever they are competing over the same female, and female mountain lions will scream during the actual mating process.

Outside of mating, mountain lions are not very vocal. There are practically no reports of loud mountain lion noises during hunting. Mountain lions don’t randomly make noises either. So, mountain lions are most likely to make noise while mating.

Are Mountain Lions Very Loud?

Mountain lions are not very loud. In fact, they aren’t much louder than a large house cat. In order to hear mountain lions clearly, you have to be very close and within a dangerous distance to the animal. The only time mountain lions get possibly loud is during mating whenever they scream, though this isn’t always the case.

Specific Mountain Lion Sounds

As covered above, mountain lions make a variety of sounds. Let’s take a look at the specific sounds mountain lions make, including mating calls, growls, meows, and purrs.

What Does An Angry Mountain Lion Sound Like?

Mountain lions make similar sounds to a domesticated cats whenever they are angry. For example, angry mountain lions often hiss whenever they are angry. The sound of their hiss is just slightly louder and deeper than the average house cat.

Do Mountain Lions Have Specific Mating Calls?

Surprisingly, the mountain lions’ mating call is actually the scariest sound they make. Whenever mountain lions are mating, they make a sound that is called a scream. This sound is aptly named because it is a blood-curdling scream.

The mountain lion’s mating scream is so scary sounding that most people mistake it as being the sign of an angry mountain lion or a mountain lion ready to pounce. On the contrary, these terrifying screams happen whenever mountain lions are mating.

Do Mountain Lions Roar?

Mountain lions do not roar in the way tigers or lions do. Instead, females have a loud scream, which is normally done to attract a male or during mating season. If you hear a mountain lion screaming, it is trying to attract a mate.

The reason that mountain lions cannot roar has to do with their larynx. Mountain lions have a completely different larynx from african lions and tigers. Because of this different larynx, mountain lions cannot roar, but they scream.

Do Mountain Lions Growl?

Mountain lions growl just like most other cats. However, the growl of a mountain lion is not very loud. Instead, a mountain lion’s growl is just slightly louder than the average house cat. The sound may be low, but it is a serious warning sign to be aware of.

Will Mountain Lions Purr Like A Cat?

Mountain lions are known to purr like a cat whenever they are content. You are most likely to see a purring mountain lion at a zoo or some other big cat enclosure. Wild mountain lions rarely, if ever, purr around humans because they are on the defense.

Interestingly, the purr of a mountain lion is actually a lot louder than that of an average house cat. In fact, a full-grown mountain lion can purr twenty times louder than pet cats. This fact is interesting given that most other noises mountain lions make are about the same as housecat.

Do Mountain Lions Meow?

Whenever mountain lions are cubs, they will meow, much like household kittens. Mountain lions grow out of this meowing sound as they grow. Once an adult, mountain lions express what they want through growls, hisses, and purrs, not meows.

Do Mountain Lions Hiss?

Mountain lions hiss whenever they are displeased. Often, the mountain lions hiss is accompanied by growls and spitting as well. If you ever see a mountain lion hiss, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and act quickly.

Can Mountain Lions Really Chirp Like A Bird?

Mountain lions have a unique ability to make a noise that almost sounds like a bird chirp. It is unclear exactly why mountain lions do this, but some domesticated cats have also been known to make this sound.

Interestingly, mountain lions often chirp like a bird whenever they are content or at peace. As a result, chirping sounds are often accompanied by purring sounds as well.

Some experts believe that this trait has developed as a way to entice birds and capture more prey. Other experts believe that this trait developed as a way to communicate over long distances since high-pitched sounds can travel further than low-pitched sounds.

Do Mountain Lions Make Screaming or Squeaking Sounds?

Yes. One of the most terrifying noises that the mountain lion makes is a screaming noise. Mountain lions almost exclusively scream whenever they are trying to attract a mate or during the actual mating process. Males may scream when fighting over a female with another male, whereas females scream to attract males and while they mate.

Do Male And Female Mountain Lions Make Different Sounds?

Male and female mountain lions do not make different sounds, but they often make the sounds at different times.

For instance, both male and female mountain lions can scream. Males are most likely to scream whenever they are fighting over a single female. Females, in contrast, will scream while they are by themselves in order to attract a mate. Females will also scream during the mating process.

Will Juvenile and Adult Mountain Lions Have Different Vocalizations?

Juvenile and adult mountain lions make different sounds. Juvenile mountain lions mainly communicate like regular household cats. They purr, hiss, and meow. As the mountain lions age, they lose their ability to meow, but they continue purring, hissing, growling, screaming, and chirping.

What To Do If You Hear A Mountain Lion?

If you hear a mountain lion, you are too close for comfort since these creatures are normally very quiet. It’s important that you make yourself look big and try to scare the mountain lion away. Do not crouch down, turn around, or play dead.

Instead, try to make yourself look bigger by standing up straight, waving your arms slowly, and speaking firmly in a loud voice. Even if you do not know where the mountain lion is, try to make yourself seem as intimidating as possible. If you know where the mountain lion is located, directly face it and make yourself appear large.

If appearing bigger does not scare the mountain lion away, begin throwing small items in your reach in the direction of the mountain lion. For example, branches and stones will work but do not crouch down or turn your back at any point. Furthermore, don’t throw the objects directly at the mountain lion because this may anger it. The goal is to scare the mountain lion away.

In the case that the mountain lion begins to approach, that is when you should begin to actively defend yourself. You can hit the mountain lion with rocks, sticks, or metal objects on your body. However, only fight back once the mountain lion attacks you.

If you come into contact with a mountain lion, report the sighting immediately to the forest officials, State Park officials, or National Park Service. This includes sightings, encounters, and attacks. These reportings help to protect other people in the area.


  • Tommy

    Hi, I'm Tommy! I'm the founder of I am an animal enthusiast and self-proclaimed wildlife expert as well as a dog trainer and breeder of the breed Löwchen. Since I was a kid, I’ve been wildly fascinated by animals, both from growing up in a rural area where there were always animals around, but especially from seeing them in the wild.

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