Pallas' Cat or Manul - Otocolobus manul

Weight: 7-12 pounds
Head/Body: 22 inches
Tail: 10 inches
Subspecies: 3

Pallas cats, or Manul, range in the rocky areas and deserts from Iran to China and Mongolia. They are the oldest living species of cat, evolving some 10 million years ago. The Pallas cat's appearance is a bit unusual with a broad head, tiny ears, big eyes, and stocky limbs. The Pallas cat's coat is longer than any of its relatives, and not of uniform color. It can be light-gray, or a combination of yellows and browns.

They can be extremely silent when stalking. Its ability to move stealthily makes it a good predator. It is known to sneak up on its prey even with very few plants in which to hide.

This cat is both solitary and mysterious. Scientists know little about the Pallas cat, but from all indications they appear to be night creatures. They hunt during the night, relying on their excellent night vision. They hunt marmots, but mice are also a significant part of their diet.

Mating occurs at the early part of the year, starting with mating calls from both the males and females. The young are born blind, with a wooly covering. These kittens become autonomous at around eight weeks, and become sexually mature at 18 months of age.

The two largest threats to Pallas cats are humans who hunt them, and an illness called toxomoplasmosi, which is transmitted to younger cats from eating rodents.

The Pallas cat is listed as Near Threatened (NT), and is close to qualifying for, or is likely to qualify for, a threatened category in the near future on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.