Does Bear Spray Work on Mountain Lions?

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I hope that the only mountain lion you encounter is behind a tall, well-built fence at the zoo. While mountain lions, also known commonly as cougars, rarely attack humans, it’s always a good idea to be prepared for the worst-case scenario if you’re heading into cougar country.

Bear spray will work on mountain lions if you encounter one, but luckily, mountain lion attacks are rare. However, there are more effective ways to deter or fight a mountain lion than bear spray.  

The fact is, mountain lions are faster and stealthier than humans. So if a mountain lion wants to attack you, you probably won’t even notice that it’s there until it’s too late. Read on to discover how to use bear spray against one of these cats, how to prevent a mountain lion attack, and what to do if they attack you.

Using Bear Spray Against a Mountain Lion

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Mountain lions are stealth predators, making them difficult to spot and even rarer to encounter. Usually, mountain lions avoid humans. However, as more and more people encroach on their territory, the more familiar they become with us, and they’re not afraid.

If you encounter a mountain lion, there are other, more effective means of deterring it than pepper or bear spray. However, if a mountain lion attacks, you should use whatever means to protect yourself against it.  

Bear spray will work on mountain lions. It’s more potent on them than many creatures because of their powerful sense of smell. But, remember, mountain lions are stalkers. So, if you’re hiking in mountain lion territory, they will see you before you see them.  

Because mountain lions stalk their prey, if they are sizing you up, you probably won’t even notice until they pounce and ambush you. In this case, bear spray can be effective if you can get it out in time and use it. But, again, you probably won’t hear or see the cat until it’s on you or nearly on you. This means that if you do use bear spray on it, you’ll probably get a dose of it too.  

Getting sprayed is better than being a cat’s dinner, but there are more effective ways of preventing a mountain lion attack than bear spray. Read on to find out more.     

Preventing a Mountain Lion Attack

Experts agree that the number one thing to do is be aware of your surroundings to prevent a mountain lion attack. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. If you notice a mountain lion nearby watching you, it’s sizing you up and deciding if you’re prey or not. At this point, you want to convince the cat that you are not an easy meal.  

To do this, you want to make yourself appear as large as possible. If you have children, pick them up off the ground as they are primary targets for the lion. Put them on your shoulders if you can to make yourself large and get them out of immediate danger.  

Next, make noise. Be loud and aggressive, but do not antagonize the cat and not approach it or corner it. If a mountain lion feels attacked or trapped, it may decide to attack you. So instead, use a big voice to try to scare it off. Put your arms up or out to make yourself look big. If you have a coat or jacket, use it to look bigger.

Also, remember not to run. Mountain lions have predatory instincts, so they automatically want to chase you if you run. So stand your ground instead, look tough, and use whatever means you have available to fight if it comes to it. 

Additionally, if you see a mountain lion, do not turn your back on it. This could signal to the mountain lion that you’re easy prey. Face the cat head-on. At the very least, you’ll be more prepared to defend yourself in case it decides to charge you.    

What To Do if a Mountain Lion Attacks You

Usually, mountain lions want nothing to do with humans. But, they are predators that only eat meat, and they eat anything from mice to elk, so if they see you as an easy target, there’s a chance that they’ll attack you.  

If you stay aware and use the tactics mentioned above, a mountain lion will usually back off and look for a lovely deer or rabbit to munch on instead of you. But, if a mountain lion has locked its eyes on you, there’s a good chance you won’t even see the attack coming.

A mountain lion in predatory mode will try to catch its prey off-guard and pounce on its back while trying to go for a quick kill with a bite to the back of the neck. If this happens, you can try to hit it and kill it with whatever means you have at your disposal.

Remember that just about anything can become a weapon. For example, this article from the Hiking Guy says that a woman in North California fended off a mountain lion with a ballpoint pen.  

If you have bear spray, use it. Try to aim for the cat’s face if you don’t grab something nearby to fight it off. This could be a large stick, hiking poles, a rock, whatever you have. If you don’t have anything, punch it in the face.  

If a wild animal is attacking you, your only goal is to survive by any means necessary. If you find yourself grappling with it, you can try to choke and suffocate it. Remember, there are many stories of people being attacked by a mountain lion and surviving, so you can too.   

Here’s a video of some tips from professionals in the wildlife field: 

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Stories of mountain lions attacking humans are frightening, but they are rare. Most people hardly ever even see a mountain lion.  

Most importantly, remember to be aware and stay prepared. The tips above effectively prevent mountain lion attacks, but you should also remain prepared by carrying bear spray.

Mace Brand Bear Spray, from, is an affordable bear spray with top customer reviews. It’s also lightweight and easy to use. 
Also, check out this article from Outside for more information about warding off mountain lions and this one from Glamping or Camping to understand what works and what doesn’t on these deadly cats.   

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