Just recently here in Colorado Springs there have been numerous mountain lion sightings and a few attacks. The attack involved a mother mountain lion showing a young cub how to hunt. The target-someones' pet dog in their back yard.
Mountain lion attacks this time of year are relatively unusual. They usually are driven to lower elevations to find water and food when it is dry-not in the middle of winter.
They use a stalking technique when out in the back country to get their prey. Bears just lumber along but mountain lions hunt which makes them in a sense more dangerous. You may not see one until it is charging you. Bears are surprisingly agile and quick but are up to 2-3 times the size of a very fast 120 pound cat.
If you encounter a mountain lion or rather one finds you hiking or camping one means of self defense is to appear as large as you can with arms outstretched and yell and scream. The threatening bluff may work. It does occasionally on bear attacks too.
Try throwing whatever you can find at the cat-rocks, sticks, branches but do not run or turn your back. However ….
NEVER go into the back country without some bear pepper spray. Bears, big cats, coyotes, wolves all hunt with their noses. They all have very sensitive noses to smell food from miles away. That is what makes pepper spray so effective against them.
IGBC and The Sierra Club basically say the same thing:
"No deterrent is 100% effective, but compared to all others, including firearms, bear spray has demonstrated the most success in fending off threatening and attacking bears and preventing injury to the person and animal involved."
The best way to use it is to create a defensive wall of spray between you and the big cat or bear. That is why the EPA requires at least 9 ounces of OC spray in bear spray. A regular 1 to 3 ounce civilian model pepper spray may work on an assailant but will not be enough to thwart an attacking animal like a bear or mountain lion.