Pallas’s cat

‘Grumpiest cat on earth’ is well camouflaged, widespread, and adapted to cold climate

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Also called “Manul”, it is a fascinating and unique member of the cat family (Felidae) known for its distinctive appearance and elusive nature. Native to the vast, cold steppes of Mongolia, Central Asia, and the Tibetan plateau, this small wild cat has adapted to life in some of the most inhospitable environments on Earth. Inhabiting rocky grasslands and shrublands, the Pallas’s Cat has developed a set of remarkable adaptations that set it apart from other felines.

One of the most striking features of Pallas’s Cat is its appearance. Unlike other cats, which typically have slit-shaped pupils, the Pallas’s Cat has round pupils, giving it a unique and somewhat otherworldly gaze. Its legs are shorter than its body size, and it boasts long, thick fur that provides insulation against the cold temperatures of its habitat. This dense fur coat, which can appear greyish, adds to the cat’s rounded, fluffy appearance, making it resemble a plush toy rather than a fierce predator.

In terms of size, Pallas’s Cats are similar to domestic cats, yet their physical and behavioral characteristics are highly specialized. They are solitary animals, spending much of their time alone except during the mating season. Their social structure is largely based on territoriality, with both males and females establishing and defending their own territories against intruders.

As predators, Pallas’s Cats are highly adept at hunting rodents and other small mammals, which constitute the bulk of their diet. Their hunting strategy is both patient and cunning, often involving hours of waiting near the exits of rodent burrows. Unlike cats that rely on quick chases, Pallas’s Cats excel in stealth and surprise, using their low-slung bodies and camouflage to approach prey undetected. They have also been observed using their paws to skillfully extract rodents from shallow burrows, showcasing their adaptability and skill as hunters.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Afghanistan
2019
Armenia
2019
Possibly Extinct
Azerbaijan
2019
Possibly Extinct
Bhutan
2019
China
2019
India
2019
Iran
2019
Kazakhstan
2019
Kyrgyzstan
2019
Mongolia
2019
Nepal
2019
Pakistan
2019
Russia
2019
Tajikistan
2019
Possibly Extant
Turkmenistan
2019
Uzbekistan
2019
Possibly Extant

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No