Are Pallas cats dangerous?

Pallas cat picture
Pallas cat picture. Photo in public domain.
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Are Pallas cats dangerous? If you handle one which is unsocialised without protection they are potentially dangerous because they can cause harm but as a small species of wild cat, they do seem to be less aggressive than some other species. If you live with one which has been socialised from a kitten (or the cat has been tamed) they are not dangerous to the person with whom they live and others to whom the cat is socialised provided the person acts responsibly.

The maximum kind of damage they could inflict on a person would be the same as for a very angry domestic or feral cat. There will be lots of scratches, some nasty bites and possible infections which need to be quickly treated with antibiotics. But Pallas’s cat is far too small to inflict serious harm to a person. The cat should be called Pallas’s cat by the way or even more accurately: Manul.

Pallas's cat in Mongolia
Pallas’s cat in Mongolia. Picture: Pallas’s cat project in Mongolia.

One problem with this small wild cat is that it looks quite cute and fluffy. People see the appearance and believe that it might be the same in character to a domestic cat. I’m afraid they will be disappointed. All small wild cats can be quite fierce. They sometimes make quite loud noises in line with potentially quite aggressive behaviour. We have to remind ourselves that no matter how fluffy they look they are true, top-quality predators with sharp claws and teeth and the attitude to use them. They are also very athletic and quick moving. It all adds up to danger. But how dangerous? Their danger is limited by their size relative to humans.

Pallas cat picture
Pallas cat picture

Tamed individuals

My excellent reference book on the wild cats (Wild Cats of the World) refers to “tamed individuals”. This implies that sometimes this wild cat is tamed by people. This encourages me to believe that its character may be predisposed to being tamed. It appears that sometimes they are tamed for possibly rodent population control. They have been observed hunting for voles and gerbils on the ground and sometimes ambushing prey by hiding the burrow exits. If this cat is more easily domesticated than the average small wild cat, I am encouraged to believe that it is less aggressive than typically encountered amongst the small wild cats.

Here is a Pallas’s cat at a zoo behaving like a domestic cat. You feel like stroking his/her belly.

Further discussion (if you’d like to read more)

This cat is similar in size to the domestic cat. It is perhaps a little smaller and it preys on mammals and birds. It’s a good rock climber and lives in a cold environment which is why it wears a heavy coat. The fur on its tail and underside is twice the length of the fur on its back to protected from the cold ground. It is quite a social cat unlike other wild cats. They sometimes greet each other by rubbing against each other. If you’d like to read more about this cat then please click on this link.

Pallas's Cat
Pallas’s Cat. Photo by Keven Law

I have presumed that the question is asking whether the cat is dangerous to people. The answer to that question is, no, unless a person has recklessly and forcibly captured the cat and is trying to handle it. Under these circumstances this cat, like a feral cat, will strike out and hurt the person.

This is because they are not socialised to people. They are frightened of people. This is another reason why they are not dangerous to people. You won’t get near them. They will run and hide. They will avoid people. I don’t know of any Pallas’s cats which are treated as pets and which are socialised to people. If there are some, and it is possibly that there are, they will behave somewhat like a domestic cat. But they will never be quite as tame or domesticated because the domestic cat has a long history of been domesticated. Whereas when you take a small wild cat from the wild as a kitten and domesticate animal it will be a one-off event and there will be no inherited behavioural traits. They would be at least a challenging animal to live with.

It reminds me of the first filial wild cat hybrids such as F1 Savannah cats and F1 Chausies. These are domesticated animals but they are more difficult to live with than standard domestic cats. They are more demanding. They have some wild cat DNA in them.

Manul Range
Manul Range. Cedit Wikimedia Commons (modified image). Author: Собственная работа

The question really is about whether the cat is socialised or not. And this applies to any small wild cat species. If a small wild cat is socialised then they can be treated as a pet towards the person who owns them. This also applies to big cats such as pumas and the medium-sized serval. You often see these as pets because they are slightly predisposed towards that role. However, you don’t read about how many people relinquish these animals to rescue centres because they simply can’t cope.

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