Recently there was a news article about a Colorado jogger who was attacked by a mountain lion and killed the mountain lion with their hands (ie, no weapon).

What are the effective ways, with no weapons, to defend against a large cat?

Are there anatomical differences which create vulnerabilities for large cats?

Additional notes:

  1. The solo backpacking question does not address the specific questions I listed.

  2. I talked with a friend who is a surgical vet, and he thought going for thumbs in eyes, and then thumbs on the trachea would be a good first line strategy. This strategy will result in bites but if administered early in an attack, risk is somewhat mitigated.

  3. Another friend, who was a special forces member, killed several dogs, but had weapons (in one case just a stick which was used to smash the skull). He is intrigued and researching the matter.

  4. I was able to find an article which talked about the anatomical vulnerabilities of dogs, as well as their instincts. But that didn't address cats.

I am not looking for hiking advice, I am asking about killing predatory cats with bare hands. In the instance mentioned, it has been released that the victim was able to suffocate the cat. There is no mention of blinding her.

I will probably edit this out later, but on my property I have had large cats, and seen them. One paced a neighbor out for his morning jog. I have also had feral dogs, which I and others encountered, and I eliminated.

  • 1
    I have no idea how they managed it, except somehow ending up on top of the back of the cat after a wrestle and strangling it. Lots of adrenaline as well. Mixed Meow Arts anyone?
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 18:13
  • Possible duplicate of Solo-backpacking in mountain lion country
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 22:09
  • The answer to your question can be found in the answer to this question: Solo Backpacking in mountain lion country.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 22:10
  • 2
    That question and its answer does not answer the questions I specifically answered.
    – mongo
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 1:32
  • 2
    An update denverpost.com/2019/02/05/… indicates that the runner bashed the cat with a rock (the other arm being chewed on), then managed to get on its back (away from claws and teeth) and strangle it.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 16:12

1 Answer 1


It sound like in this case, they were able to strange it. 80 lbs is not very big for a mountain lion, that would either be a juvenile or a smaller female mountain lion.

The vulnerable places would be throat or eyeballs, its not like a bear where you can play dead, you have to fight back.

As far as tools go almost anything would be better than bare hands, such as,

  • hiking stick/trekking poles
  • knives
  • pepper spray
  • firearms
  • ice axes
  • etc.

Dogs are also useful, mountain lions will avoid most dogs and run up trees to get away from them, this is quite frequently how they are hunted in the western US.

  • 1
    Just for reference the article stated that it was a juvenile male.
    – Nate W
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 0:15
  • The data I have seen is that it was a juvenile female.
    – mongo
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 1:33
  • 1
    Early reports said female, then some later reports said male. The Colorado press release does not cite a sex. Also early reports were 80# and more recent ones cite 70# or less. Since the cat was partially consumed when authorities got to it, there may have been some assumptions and estimates.
    – mongo
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 14:42

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