The Pallas Cat, Steppe Cat, or Manul, was named for the German naturalist who first described it, Peter Simon Pallas. This cat developed about twelve million years ago, and really hasn’t changed since. To look at a Pallas Cat is to take a trip back through the ages.
These small, wild cats are well adapted to the cold, arid climates in which they live. Pallas Cats have the longest, most dense fur of any species of wild cat. Their fur is longer on the underside of their body, thus providing more insulation as the cat rests on snow or frozen ground. The fur on the back of the cat is not as long as on the underside, and allows for solar heat to be absorbed quickly.
Their short ears are lower on the side of head than a domestic cat. These adaptations help the cats retain heat to prevent frostbite and to hide while hunting.
While these wild cats appear larger than our domesticated housecats, this is due to their thick fur, with a very dense undercoat. The body of the Pallas Cat weighs about the same as the domesticated housecat.
Unlike other small cats whose pupils narrow to slits, the Pallas Cat’s eyes have round pupils.
Pallas Cats are solitary and avoid other cats, except during breeding season.
Pallas Cats prey on small mammals such as pikas, voles, gerbils, and young marmots. They also will eat ground dwelling birds, like Chukar partridges. Pallas Cats are crepuscular, which means they are active mainly at dawn and dusk. Due to their short legs, they are not very speedy, so they hunt mostly by stalking or ambush. However, their short legs and stocky bodies enable Pallas Cats to climb vertical cliffs with ease.