If you’ve ever wanted to see what the combination of a house cat, leopard, raccoon, red panda, and monkey would look like, then the Pallas Cat is the embodiment of your dream. These fluffy, furry cats native to the Central Asia steppe are adorable but not well understood. We wanted to bring more awareness to the world about this awesome feline species, and that’s why we’ve put together the ultimate guide to the Pallas Cat. Don’t forget to check out the end of the post to find out how you can help save this threatened species!
The Pallas Cat
People fall in love with the Pallas Cat because it makes some of the hilarious human-like faces of surprise:
The Pallas Cat (also known as the Manul Cat) is stocky and furry. Its super dense fur makes it look fluffy and cuddly. In fact, it is scientifically the fluffiest cat with 9,000 hairs per square centimeter.
The fur on its underside and tail is twice as long as the fur on the rest of its body. This keeps the cat warm since it can wrap its tail around itself like a coat. It has similar features to its cousin, the Snow Leopard (which lives in the same habitat).
Even if you want to wrap a Pallas Cat in your arms, you’d probably want to stay away. Pallas cats are predators, and they aren’t domesticated. They can even get pretty vicious.
The Pallas Cat has ochre fur and black stripes on its legs, tail, and body. Depending on where it’s from, its fur can range from grey to fox-red. Look at the dramatic difference in color between the Pallas Cat on the left and the one on the right below:
Sometimes you won’t see the stripes because its coat grays and loses some of its stripes in the Winter. This helps the Pallas Cat stay camouflaged in the frigid Central Asian winter, where the entire landscape is blanketed in snow. The Pallas Cat’s head is spotted black like a leopard (which it is related to), and it has black stripes that go from its eye all the way down its cheek. Its face is also shortened relative to other cats, making its face look flat.
The large, owl-like eyes are yellow, and the pupils contract into small circles instead of the usual vertical slits that most cats have.
Much like Munchkin Cats, the Pallas Cat has shortened legs, especially compared to its feline cousins. This obviously makes the Pallas Cat look adorable!
Their shortened legs make Pallas Cats slow runners. While their short legs aren’t great for running, they are perfect for hunting in open plains with little cover. Their stout bodies allow them to stalk and ambush their prey.
The Pallas Cat has fewer teeth than other cats and is missing some of its premolars, but it makes up for that with its massive and intimidating canine teeth.
Habitat and Behavior
The Pallas Cat has a very fragmented habitat in grasslands and montane steppes of Central Asia.
The Pallas Cat is a carnivore and feeds on Pika—a cute, small mammal that looks like a chipmunk. If you’re a Pokemon fan, you are familiar with Pikachu, named after and drawn to look similar to a Pika.
Pallas Cats are solitary animals that live in caves and holes in the ground. They mark their territory with their scent to keep others away. Even if you could travel to their native habitat, you’d be hard-pressed to spot the elusive Pallas Cat. That’s because they tend to make homes within rocky cliffs as high as 5,050 meters (16,570 feet) or in marmot burrows in plains regions.
Being used to living above 16,000 feet makes it hard to preserve these felines. This is because their immune system isn’t adapted to lower altitudes, where there are many more viruses. Pallas Cats give birth to two to six kittens per litter. Kittens are born in sheltered dens, weigh ~3.2 ounces at birth, and have a thick coat of fuzz that they grow out of after two months. Pallas kittens are some of the most adorable kittens out there.
Pallas Cats live up to 11 years in captivity. In nature, the best estimate for lifespan is only 3.61 years!
Species on the Brink
The Pallas Cat is classified as “near threatened” by the IUCN. This means that they are a species that may be threatened with extinction soon. The best estimate is that there are 15,000 of them left in nature, but nobody really knows. Researcher Alexey Kuzhlekov told the Siberian Times that “The latest data on this species… hasn’t been updated over the last 3 or 4 decades.”
Pallas Cats became endangered because poachers prize them in Russia for their infamous thick and warm fur. Another primary reason that the Pallas Cat is going extinct is that its prey, the Pika and Vole, are considered pests. Not only do people kill the Pallas Cat’s prey, eliminating their food supply, but they also poison the rodents. When Pallas Cats eat the poisoned rodents, they can die as well.
To address the possibility of extinction, researchers recently agreed to create a 14-square mile area of land in the 32 square kilometer site at Sailyugemsky Nature Park in the Altai Mountains to preserve and study the Pallas Cat. The Altai Mountains are located where Russia, China, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia meet. The new reserve will have 15 photo traps set up to spy on the Pallas Cat and learn more about the creature within its native habitat. A camera trap took the picture below during a voluntary expedition to the Altai Republic, organized by the Altai Nature Reserve, WWF, and Argali Regional Fund.
How You Can Help Save the Pallas Cat
Well, there you have it! We gathered all of the best information about and pictures of Pallas Cats so that you wouldn’t have to do any of the work. If you’ve made it this far, you are probably interested in helping save these beautiful and majestic cats. Here are the best ways to do so:
- The Snow Leopard Trust and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland recently formed the Pallas Cat International Conservation Alliance (PICA). Visit their sites to donate.
- Others like Wild Cats World are figuring out new ways to save Pallas Cats, so keep up to date with them by following them on Facebook and give them suggestions if you have any.
- The International Society for Endangered Cats is dedicated to preserving and protecting small wild cats, and your donation would go to much-needed field research.
- Big Cats Rescue is doing great work, and you can support them by either donating or shopping for some of their cool cat-related gear.
If you have any other ways to help the Pallas Cat, please let us know, and we’ll add it to the list!