Pallas’s cat looks a lot bigger than it is thanks to its dense fur, the densest fur of any feline on the planet. This cat is about the size of a domestic cat but more squat and rather short-legged. The bushy tail is about half the length of its head and body. And remarkably it weighs between 2-4 kg which is about 5-9 pounds. Pallas’s cat is actually a smallish cat compared to many domestic cats and certainly considerably smaller than the Maine Coon.
The BBC video, FROZEN PLANET II, explains why this super-dense coat is required on the Mongolian Steppe: it is bloody freezing 😎. The winter air temperature is commonly -50°C and snowfall is light and even. You can see how the filmmakers struggled to make this video. Devices and machinery start to fail under such temperatures but the cat which lives in this hostile habitat survives quite nicely thank you very much in eating five gerbils every day to help keep warm.
Note: This is an embedded video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source, or the video is turned into a link which would stop it working here. I have no control over this.
Their kill rate, however, is 1 in 3 which is 33%. It is not great but probably in line with the general average of wild cat species.
The BBC filming team were told that it would be almost impossible to find a Pallas’s cat in this vastness of empty space except for the odd nomad but they managed. They lived in a traditional ger camp using nomadic tents similar to the yurt that we see being used at the Glastonbury Festival for those who want to fork out £20,000 for the privilege!
Their toilet was 300 meters away and everything in it was pretty well frozen solid, but the loo seat had a fluffy cover to make things a little bit more acceptable! They would watch and wait for 10 hours a day wearing, in effect, duvets to keep warm. They were impressed with the diminutive Pallas’s cat surviving in such a hostile environment.
They said that they fell in love with them and were privileged to view them in their natural winter habitat.
People say that Pallas’s cat is the grumpiest looking cat, and the reason is that they live in such a cold climate. Of course, that’s a bit of fun because although Pallas’s cat might look a bit grumpy it is all down to their anatomy and not their emotions. It’s just the way they look; a bit like Grumpy Cat who had anatomy that made her look grumpy as well.
RELATED: Are Pallas cats dangerous?
A lot of people don’t know it but the scientific name for Pallas’s cat is “manul”. The trouble is when you search for that name the search engines don’t understand look for car manuals instead! If you type in “cat manul” to Google it comes up with “car manual”! That’s how unusual the name is. Google simply doesn’t understand it.
This cat species can be found at elevations of 3000-4000 meters but most of the observations have come at lower elevations. In western areas of the former Soviet Union, it is found at 1000-1500 meters elevation and the habitat is steppe vegetation. In Lasakh the terrain is barren and stony above the tree line from 3600 meters to 4800 meters above sea level.
The typical climate for Pallas’s cat is described as “extreme continental” which means low humidity, not much rainfall and a wide range of temperatures.
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As you can see in the video Pallas’s cat is not very fond of deep snow. They appear to be unable to negotiate deep, loose snow and find it difficult to survive during periods of heavy snowfall. Accordingly, they avoid those areas where the maximum mean 10-day snow-cover depth exceeds 10 centimetres.
What is described as the “ecological limit” of the Pallas’s cat is a continuous snow cover of 15-20 centimetres. In winter they are less active and become fat. This apparently is when hunters of Pallas’s cats operate.
19th-century Russian authors reported shepherds chasing Pallas’s cats through the snow or they’d follow their tracks to a den and would kill the cats with sticks or stone them to death. I’m sorry that is a very unpleasant image which I sincerely hope does not occur today in 21st century. I guess the hunters were after one thing: the coat of this beautiful cat.
During the daytime they pass the hours in caves, rock crevices or marmot burrows. They emerge in late afternoon and begin hunting. Sometimes they sunbathe on a warm rock to get warmed up for the night hunting ahead.
Their low set ears and flat forehead help to keep them invisible to prey animals as they try and use sparse vegetation as cover when stalking. They stalk by creeping up on prey, but they aren’t particularly fast runners thanks to their stubby legs. Sometimes they hide near the burrow exits of gerbils and voles and wait for them to emerge. Their super-dense coat helps them blend into the landscape and they have a remarkable ability to be invisible when in plain view.
Below are some more articles on this cute cat.