Pallas’s cat in snow warms up their forepaws by placing them on their tail

The question in this neat, short video from the Reddit/Imgur website is whether all Pallas’s cats (‘Manul’) keep their forepaws warm by placing their tail under them when they are sitting on snow. It looks like a very deliberate, automatic act. My thought is that this happens all the time for Pallas’s cats because they live in the Central Asian uplands. This cat species can be found at elevations of 3,000-4,000 metres (the upper limit is over 13,000 feet). In Ladakh, it is found in hilly terrain above the tree line from 3,600 metres to 4,800 metres (almost 16,000 feet at the upper limit).

The behaviour highlights the sensitivity of the feline paw pads and the thickly protective fur of this wild cat.

Pallas's cat places its tail under its forepaws to keep the paws warmer when on snow
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Pallas’s cat places its tail under its forepaws to keep the paws warmer when on snow. Image: Marked up screenshot.

In Central Asia where this cat can be found the winter air temperature is often -50 degrees Celsius with light snowfall. The super coat protects against these harsh conditions. This cat species has a limit to the amount if snow it can tolerate in terms of movement as it is quite small. They can’t negotiate deep, loose snow. “Continuous snow cover of 15 to 20 centimeters marks the ecological limit for this species” (Wild Cats of the World).

Back in the 19th century “shepherds and Kirgizians would chase manuls through snow or follow their tracks to a den upon which they would kill the cats with sticks or stone them to death.” (Heptner and Sludskii 1992).

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Unpleasant to think about but it highlights the sort of landscape on which this small cat species lives. Evolutionary pressures would have encouraged the Pallas’s cat to place their forefeet on their tails for comfort.

It makes me wonder if any small cat species including the domestic does this from time to time if the ground is so cold as to make it uncomfortable for sensitive cat paws. Cat paws contain a large concentration of nerve receptors. They are ‘sensory organs’ aiding in hunting and movement and helping in balance. They feel with their paws.

It is unsurprising then that they feel the cold ground when it is covered in icy snow. It makes sense to place a ‘mat’ under them.

Below are some more articles on the Pallas’s cat.

Pallas's cat in Mongolia

Pallas’s cat is NOT endangered generally the experts say

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Pallas's cat discovered at 17,000 feet on Mount Everest

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On my estimation and based upon my knowledge of the wild cat species, Pallas's cat (manual) lives at the highest ...
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Can Pallas's cat successfully mate with a domestic cat?

Can Pallas’s cat successfully mate with a domestic cat?

Pallas's cat which is often incorrectly referred to as the 'Pallas cat', the scientific name of which is 'manual' can ...
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Pallas's cat the cat with the densest fur of any cat in the world

Pallas’s cat has the densest fur of any cat in the world

Pallas's cat looks a lot bigger than it is thanks to its dense fur, the densest fur of any feline ...
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Pallas's cat

Why are Pallas’s cats mean, angry and aggressive?

It seems that observers think that the Pallas's cat is mean, angry and aggressive (aka Pallas cat). And the reason ...
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Bunch of Pallas's cat kittens

Picture of 8 Pallas’s cat kittens

The photo was taken at Novosibirsk Zoo, Russia. It is located in central-south Russia. They are also a research institute ...
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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

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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