Pumas have exceptionally long hind legs and spinal columns, long cylindrical tails, plain-colored coats, large paws, wide-set eyes, acute hearing, microscopic hooks on their tongues and curved canine teeth. Pumas are considered the most adaptable of the "big cats" because of their enormous geographic range.

The puma's long hind legs are designed to grant the animal a greater leaping ability, which helps it catch and kill prey. Pumas are able to leap 20 feet straight up and 30 to 40 feet when running downhill. Their long spinal columns makes their bodies more maneuverable when they run and leap, while their long thick tail acts as a counterbalance to stabilize the animal when it is moving at great speeds. Their large paws not only help absorb shock while they leap and run, but they also are heavily padded, which dampen the sound of the puma's footsteps while the animal is hunting.

The wide-set eyes mean a wider range of vision while looking for prey, and the acute hearing makes it easier for pumas to hunt at night. The microscopic hooks on the puma's tongue makes it easier for the animal to rasp meat from the bone of its meals, and the inward curved canines make it easier for the puma to hold its struggling prey when making a kill. The solid-colored coat is characteristic of all species of puma, and the color can range from grey and black to cinnamon. Baby pumas are born with a spotted colored coat, which breaks up their image when they lie still against the ground and makes it easier to hide from potential predators.