Known for its expressive face, the Pallas’ cat has plenty of reasons to be as grumpy as it looks
I’d like to introduce you to a rare Asian creature: the Pallas’ cat.
Don’t be put off by the fact that these felines always seem to be stressed
or delivering bad news
It’s just how their face is, they can’t help it.
Fittingly, these grumpy-looking cats don’t enjoy company (apart from in the short breeding season). They’re solitary animals and have large territories for their size, using scent marks to claim their patch on the rocky terrain of the Asian mountains.
The Pallas’ cat originally had the Latin name Felis manul, but it was later changed to Octobulus manul. This new name means ‘ugly-eared’, referring to the cat’s small, wide-set ears. But whatever anyone thinks about their appearance, they are perfectly suited to the Pallas’ cat’s life on the grasslands and rocky steppes.
These cats hunt by creeping up on their prey and hiding before they pounce; flattened faces and small ears low on their heads mean they can peek over the top of their hiding place without being spotted.
Pallas’ cats have attracted some attention because of how fat and fluffy they look. In truth, they’re about the same size and weight as a house cat – the appearance of any extra size is entirely down to their fur. To cope with the extreme cold, the Pallas’ cat’s coat is the thickest and longest of any cat. It changes from stripy red-brown in summer to a more uniform grey in winter and becomes even thicker.
One very real reason for this cat to be grumpy is the number of threats to the species. Not only do Pallas’ cats have to put up with harsh conditions and bitter winters, but they’re now facing further challenges. Over half of the kittens born in the wild don’t make it as far as leaving their mother, and many adults die in the winter months. The cats are prey for eagles, foxes and domestic dogs, and their habitat is shrinking as land is developed.
Hunting and poaching still threaten the Mongolian population. There remains a strong demand for their fur, and some of their body parts are believed to have medicinal properties in some cultures.
So next time you’re feeling a bit down or you’re having a bad day, just remember that you’ll never be as grumpy as the Pallas’ cat.
For the full story on this miserable moggy, pick up your copy of World of Animals issue 49 in stores or online!