Pallas Cat - Its like no
other wild cat
The most striking thing about the pallas cat, sometimes called the
manul or steppe cat, is its appearance. With its flattened face, stocky build, and
long hair, its like no other wild cat. The hair on its under parts
and tail is nearly twice as long as the hair on the top and sides.
Like the snow leopard, this presumably helps keep the animal warm
when it hunts on snow, cold rock or frozen ground. The Pallas cat is
adapted to cold arid environments and lives in rocky terrain and
grasslands through out central Asia and parts of Eastern Europe.
About the size of a large domestic cat, the pallas cat has long
dense fur, which is generally gray or pale reddish in color. Its
white guard hairs give it a frosted appearance. The background color
of its fur varies from grey in the north of its range to fox red in
some parts of the south, although greyish animals are also found in
the south. It has a series of five to seven narrow black stripes
running transversely across its lower back. The long tail is black
tipped, with a series of five to seven black rings running down its
length. The legs are short compared to body size and the small broad
head has high set eyes, which uncommonly contract to small circles
rather than slits as in other small wild cats. The ears are low set
and small. The head is covered by a stripped facial ruff <beard> and
sports long whiskers and a white chin. The tail of the pallas cat is
tipped with black and has darker rings toward the end, similar dark
markings can also be faintly seen across the side of its back.
They are adapted to cold arid environments and the range of the
pallas cat extends from Iran through southern Asia to parts of
western China. It lives on rocky steppes and stony outcroppings up
to bout 15,000 feet, and has rarely been seen in the lowland areas.
During the day the cat uses caves, burrows and rock fissures to
sleep and becomes more active toward dusk. The pallas cat is a lone,
nocturnal hunter and preys predominately on rodents and small
Diet has been mostly asertained feces and consist mostly of pikas,
with small rodents, birds, insects making up about 10% of the diet.
There is little knowledge of reproduction in the wild, but 3 to 6
kittens have been seen with a gestation of 73 to 76 days. The
kittens molt around the age of two months, and have been observed
hunting by the age of three to four months. The average life span is
around 11-12 years. One thing that is known, the pallas cat kittens
have a high mortality rate in captivity due to toxoplasmosis. The
Cincinnati Zoo is having some success treating this protozoa.
Kittens are pulled at birth and either bottle raised or raised on
domestic cats. A protocol of several drugs is also used to try and
rid the kittens of toxoplasmosis.
The conservation status of pallas cat is insufficiently known due to
lack of information about its range and relative numbers. Poisoning
to control pika populations has taken place on a
large scale in parts of the Russian Federation where they are
considered to be vectors for plague, and parts of China, where they
are considered to compete with domestic stock for graze. It is not
clear which is a bigger threat, the exposure to these poisons or the
decreasing food supply. The pallas cat is rare and is considered
threatened on parts of its range and is listed in CITES in Appendix