Imagine moving out when you’re 1 year old…

Imagine being just a year old and having to move out on your own! From about 6 months of age, mountain lion kittens can survive without their mom, but it is a difficult existence. Most kittens will stay with their mother until the age of 12 to 18 months.

Kittens observe their mothers from the time they are born, watching her hunt, cache a kill, monitor her territory, and react to other lions. While the urge to kill deer may be instinctual, cubs need to learn how to deliver a fatal bite that will disable their prey. Once they master this skill and other skills they may become independent and leave mom to find their own territory.

It is still a mystery what kittens learn from their mothers.  Many behaviors may be instinctual. Do these young lions learn how to bury, or cache, their food from observing her? And how does a pregnant female choose a den site? What we do know is that having good rearing behavior is crucial to the survival of kittens. Researchers are still trying to answer these questions and learn more about the behavioral ecology of these mysterious animals.

Korinna Domingo

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