The Pallas’s Cat
Scientific Name: Otocolobus manul
IUCN Status: Near threatened
Weight: 5-12 pounds
Pallas’s Cat is a very distinctive stocky, heavy furred small cat about the size of a squat domestic cat. The broad head is very distinctive with a flat forehead and a wide face, enhanced by dense cheek sideburns and large ears set on the side of the head. The face has characteristic paired dark stripes usually with white fur in between running from the eyes to the cheeks, and the forehead is distinctly marked with small black spots. The dense fur is silvery-grey to rufous-grey, and largely unmarked on the body or sometimes with faint vertical stripping. Summer coat does have a darker rich color with reddish tones. The bushy tail is banded with narrow stripes ending in a dark tip. 3 subspecies are usually described but further molecular analysis is required to assess their validity.
Pallas’s Cats hunt mainly small lagomorphs and rodents. Pikas are especially important prey across the range, typically comprising more than 50% of their diet; gerbils, voles, hamsters, ground squirrels, and young marmots are also commonly eaten. Following small mammals, small passerine birds are the most important category of prey. Other prey includes hares, hedgehogs, larger birds, lizards, and invertebrates.
Habitat and Distribution:
Pallas’s Cat has a wide but patchy distribution across Europe and Asia’s cold steppes. Its main stronghold is Mongolia, neighboring areas in Russia and across much of China with the distribution becoming progressively discontinuous further west. Pallas’s Cats live in cold, arid habitats with cover, especially dry grassland and shrub steppes with stone outcrops and stony semi-deserts, from 450m to 5,073m.
Pallas’s Cats live in habitats with severe environmental extremes and reproduction in the wild is highly seasonal. Gestation last 66-75 days. Litter size averages 3-4 and exceptionally reaches as many as 8 in captivity.