Why do big cats usually stalk and pounce?

BBC Wildlife contributor Karen Emslie answers your wild question. 


Leopard © Hayden Smith


Hunting consumes a huge amount of energy, and it is much more calorie-efficient for cats to sit, wait, stalk and pounce rather than travel long distances over difficult terrain.

Feline energy expenditure has been the subject of recent research by scientists from the University of California, who developed a high-tech collar equipped with GPS and accelerometers to track and monitor wild mountain lions.

They found that not only do the cats use the most energy-efficient form of hunting and stalking, but they also adjust the power of their pounce depending on the size of their prey.

The team also studied captive mountain lions and discovered that, despite their strength, they lack a high aerobic capacity, and therefore have a slow walking pace. This enables them to conserve energy for killer bursts of speed and power pounces. 

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