Pallas' Cat

ZOO LOCATION: Asian Highlands

Lifespan: Up to 12 years

Wild Diet: Pikas, marmots, small mammals, ground squirrels, hares and birds.

Zoo Diet: Feline diet, with two fast days per week; bones

Predators: none

SSP: yes

IUCN Status: Near Threatened

Habitat/Range: Himalayan steppes and treeless rocky country up to 13,120 ft. in the Caspian Sea region and Iran to southeastern Siberia and China. Not found as high as snow leopards.

Characteristics: Heavy body, short, stout legs; very stocky and compact. Small, bluntly rounded ears set low and wide apart on board head. Thick fur makes it appear larger than it is; looks like a ball of fluff. Varies in color from light gray to yellowish brown to russet. Tips of hairs are white, giving fur a frosted appearance. Two dark streaks on side of head, faint stripes across flanks, four dark rings on tail. Weight: 5.5 - 8 lbs. Head and body: 20 - 25 in. Tail: 8 - 12 in. They have 28 teeth with the front premolar teeth missing. Eyes face almost directly forward. Pupils close up to a circular opening rather than a vertical slit as in most small cats.

Behavior: Pallas' cats are solitary; little is known about their social system. Active at twilight, occasionally seen at mid-day. Daytime den sites include caves, crevices in rocks or burrows dug by other animals (marmots, foxes and badgers).

Reproduction: 3 to 5 young born in late April/May after a 66 day gestation.

Conservation: Few Pallas' cats are in captivity. Any decline in populations is due to hunting for fur and poisoning of pikas, their main source of food. They occur widely, but are not overly common anywhere.