Can Pallas cats be pets?

The Pallas’s cat does not make a good pet. ‘Pallas cat’ is strictly speaking not the name of this wild cat species. It’s more scientific name is ‘manul’ and it is sometimes referred to as ‘Pallas’s cat’ after the German explorer and naturalist who discovered the animal: Peter Simon Pallas.

Manul in captivity
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Manul in captivity. Photo by Radovan Zierik from Pexels

Pallas’s cat is one of the few small wild cat species with a particularly attractive appearance which encourages some people to believe that it would be nice to live with one as a cat companion or pet. Another couple of small wild cat species that people want to adopt as pets are the sand cat and the rusty-spotted cat (the smallest cat either domestic or wild).

It is not wise or sensible to think about turning a small wild cat species into a domestic cat. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, wild cats do not have many thousands of years of domestication behind them. You will have to pluck them out of the wild and domesticate the cat from a kitten (cub). That means somebody has to find one in the wild and take it from their mother. That’s not a good start because it is cruel both to the kitten and the mother and it is bad in terms of wild cat conservation at a time when conservation is becoming a major issue in the world. In the wild, the population of the Pallas’s cat is declining although the experts say that at present they are not that concerned about the survivability of this species in the wild. I would disagree with them. All the wild cat species are, to varying degrees, endangered by human activity of various kinds and it’s getting worse year-on-year.

Another reason why it is not a good idea to have a Pallas’s cat as a pet is because they don’t make good pets. This is because they will behave like a tamed wild cat. They’ll make sharp and intimidating sounds, they may pee over your furniture or the walls of your home to mark their territory and although they are described as being “quite friendly” in captivity, how friendly are they compared to a beautiful domestic cat? “Quite friendly” for a wild cat is a recommendation but the animal will be nowhere near as friendly as a domestic cat.

Then there is the issue of whether it is legal to own a Pallas’s cat where you live. You’ll have to research it as the legalities of wild cat ownership varies from place to place. It is likely that you’ll need a license from your local authority meaning the county or city administrators in the USA or county council in the UK. You may have to keep the animal in an enclosure. Hardly a ‘pet’.

I would hope that people can get out of their heads the idea of living with a small wild cat of any species and focus more on unwanted domestic cats in animal shelters. There are too many things against living with a wild cat to make it a good idea or sensible. As mentioned at the beginning, people think of this idea because Pallas’s cat are attractive and cute looking because of their dumpy appearance and long fur. But if you’re in the presence of this cat, interacting with it, the animal won’t be quite as cute. And if you live with the animal for a while you will go off the idea of keeping one as a pet.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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