Think You Might Have a Resident Big Cat in Your Area?

Here are a couple of tips to help you decipher the signs!

September 23, 2021

Claw marks in the paw print usually signal a dog. However, conversely, not all dogs leave claw prints. A mountain lion (often referred to as a “panther,” “cougar,” and many other names) has retractable claws that are usually not extended during walking unless the terrain is extremely rough. 

Dog tracks are overall much more uniform in shape. A mountain lion’s individual pads aren’t as well aligned as a dog’s. The pads of a dog track could be connected with imaginary straight lines at a 45 degree angle. Whereas a mountain lion’s pads are more apt to line up on a diagonal. While the two center pads of a dog track will be at the same height across, the mountain lion’s pads are staggered, similar to where our middle finger is placed in respect to our index or ring finger. 

Perhaps the greatest difference between the two lies in the shape of the foot pad, rather than the toes. The primary pad of a dog’s print will more or less form an upward pointing triangle, with slight indentations in the bottom edge. A mountain lion’s primary pad is much more irregularly shaped, with a pronounced indentation on the top, and two more additionally prominent ones on the bottom!