Question: What is a cougar?
The short answer: A cougar is an older woman who is primarily attracted to and has sex with with significantly younger men.
Answer: The most commonly-accepted definition of a cougar is a woman 40 years of age or older who exclusively pursues very young men. The onset of the cougar years is hotly debated. Some feel that a cougar can be as young as 35, but women of this age would not be viewed as cougars unless their sexual conquests were no older than 25; the ten-year age difference seems to be an unspoken but accepted minimum between partners.
Typically, cougars prey upon men almost young enough to be their sons. Thus fortysomething cougars would be attracted to men in their 20s, and fiftysomething cougars would pursue men in their 30s and so on. Some cougars are less interested in a relationship than a sexual conquest, perhaps enjoying the fact that they are physically appealing to men who are considered to be in the prime of their virility.
A cougar may be married or unmarried, and some even go after their daughters' boyfriends.
Although the term 'cougar' comes from the big-game predatory cat of the same name, the cougar connection also may allude to the wearing of animal print clothing by older and more sexually aggressive women.
An early example of the cougar phenomenon was seen in the groundbreaking film The Graduate, in which middle-aged Mrs. Robinson (Ann Bancroft) seduces fresh-out-of-college Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman).
Real-life cougar relationships include Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher (15 years), Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins (12 years), and Barbara Hershey and Naveen Andrews (21 years).