Palla’s cat is a wild cat species. It got this name after Peter Pallas, a German zoologist. the scientific name of this creature is Octocolobus manul. Octocolobus refers to ‘ugly eared’ in Greek while manul is a word in the Mongolian language. Palla’s cat is also called Rock Wildcat and Steppe cat.
Palla’s cats come in light grey to yellowish buff and russet. It has some faint stripes along the side of a body. they have black spots on the forehead. The large and yellow-colored eyes are similar to that of owls. Its pupil contracts into small circles.
Where does Palla’s Cat live?
Palla’s cat lives in extreme climates having little rainfall, a wide range of temperature, and low humidity. They are found in steppe grassland regions of China, Mongolia, and the Tibetan Plateau, Palla’s cats like to live in rocky and valley areas and avoid completely open habitats. They avoid places with snow cover more than 10 cm and continuous snow cover of 15-20 cm.
The appearance of the Palla’s cat
You will see Palls’s cat as a heavier animal due to its thick and well-built coat. But they are not much heavy as you see. The thick fur coat keeps them warm against the cold weather. Its tail looks like a warm muff wrapped around the body. Palla’s cat has low set ears and a flat head that helps for stalking prey in open areas.
Palla’s cats don’t come outside in the daytime. they hide in the caves or hollows under stones. Sometimes these cats adopt the burrows of other animals like foxes and marmots.
Palla’s cats are more active during dusk and dawn. They have 3 major hunting techniques namely, stalking by creeping around over, moving and flushing animals out of hiding, and waiting in ambush at rodent burrows. Palla’s cats are one of the major threats to pikas.
Their body weight changes with the seasons. Females have the lowest weight during winter while males have their lowest body weight during the breeding season.
Palla’s cats are carnivores just like your pet cats. They love to eat small rodents and pikas. They hunt animals like small mammals like murines, ground squirrels, voles, and mouse hares, and lizards, grasshoppers, and small birds.
Palla’s cat makes mating pairs during the period of December to March. The kittens are usually born in late March to May. A female Pall’s cat gives birth to three or four babies at a time. Kittens are dark and have a wooly coat. They don’t have a frosted appearance that shows by adults. They miss the juvenile coat around two months of age. They weight 500-600 grams during this time. Kittens become independent after 4 or 5 months. They get adult size weight within about 8 months. Palla’s cats gain sexual maturity at the age of 9 to 10 months.
Mortality is high in Palla’s cats. Most of them die during the winter months.
What are the threats to Palla’s Cats?
These cats undergo threats due to several reasons. Herding or domestic dogs are one of the worst predators of Palla’s cats. The dogs tend to hunt it whenever they get a chance. Large eagles and red foxes are natural predators of this cat species. Human activities lead to habitat fragmentation and degradation. It is due to overgrazing by conversion to arable land and domestic livestock. Mining and infrastructure activities are ahead in the list of threats to Palla’s cat.
People hunt this cat for fur. Palla’s cat is taken in traditional medicines in Mongolia and Russia causing threats to their lives.
Fun Facts About Palla’s Cat
- Pallas’ cats love to be alone
Palla’s cats are territorial and solitary. Male Palla’s cats occupy comparatively larger territories than females. The habitat decides the size of the territory and can range from 8 up to 100 square miles. They use scent to mark the boundaries of territories. Palla’s cats tend to spend life in crevices, burrows, and caves made by other animals.
- Palla’s cat has the longest and densest fur in the world of cats
The coat of fur makes Palla’s cat a heavy animal. It helps to keep them warm during the winter seasons. Palla’s cat has longer fur on its belly and tail than the tops and sides. The density and length of fur change with seasons.
Palla’s cat undergoes two color phases. They have a grayer and uniform coat of fur during summer. But in summer, they get more stripes and ochre colors in the fur. Their coat matches with the habitat. So it is easy for Palla’s cat to escape from predators.
- They subsist mostly on pika
Palla’s cats are hunters. They hunt as an ambush predator. Palla’s cat even spent time near the burrows until their prey appears. They spend much time on hunting pikas which is an innocent small animal. Palla’s cat diet lay more than 50% on pikas.
- Palla’s Cat don’t like each other much
The fuffy body and coat make Palla’s cats affordable. But they are not famous animal as a pet. Researchers have identified Palla’s cat as an aggressive animal. Even the kittens are also growling and hissing each other before opening their eyes.
- Palla’s cats are a ‘Near Threatened’ animal
Palla’s cats have been identified as a ‘Near Threatened’ animal. They have a life span of 12 years. But most of the wild Palla’s cats live only for about 6 years. Predators and other dangers are the reasons for their shortened life cycle.
- They have a short mating period
This species mates during December and March. A female cat gives birth to new babies at the end of March and May. It has a gestation period of 66 to 75 days.
- They can’t run fast
Palla’s cats are poor runners. There’s no wonder in this fact as they are fat in nature. They refuge in small crevasses and boulders whenever a predator chases them.
- Palla’s cats have several sounds
Palla’s cats use several sounds to communicate. This creature can purr. It growls or yelps when excited. That sound is similar to a small dog.