It’s a tough life for the mountain lions of Southern California—filled with murder, inbreeding, and perilous freeway crossings. But try not to think about that as you enjoy this video of kittens recently discovered by National Park Service researchers in the Santa Susana Mountains
The first litter of kittens are the offspring of P-35, recently seen chowing down on some deer meat and leaving her leftovers behind for a pair of bears. Park Service biologists have named her two female kittens P-48 and P-49 (the "P" stands for Puma). The second litter was born to P-39 and consists of two males (P-50 and P-52) and one female (P-51). Researchers believe the father of all five kittens is the territorial P-38, who chased another lion (P-32) across Highway 126 last summer. P-32 was later struck by a vehicle and killed while attempting to cross I-5.
Researchers expect that before long, these adorable kittens will have to face similar struggles. "The real challenge comes as these kittens grow older and disperse, especially the males," says Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area biologist Jeff Sikich in a press release. The male mountain lions will have to contend with a number of potential rivals, including their own father. Sikich says that "road mortality and the possibility of poisoning from anticoagulant rodenticide" are other dangers the kittens will run into as they grow older. For now, though, they seem quite content hissing at cameras and snoozing in their den.