HERE, KITTY, KITTY!
by J.E. Rogers
I know a lot of cat people. They own cats like a Siamese, or a Burmese, or a Tonkinese, or some other of the ‘eses.’ This week we’ll take a look at a very unusual and little known wild cat. A video of this cat in captivity prompted me to write this week’s post. I have spoken about this cat before, but it’s one of my favorites so let’s get to it.
The Pallas cat is named for Peter Pallas, a German naturalist (1741-1811), who first described it. However, Pallas incorrectly believed that this cat was an ancestor to the Persian breeds. It is not.
Meet the Pallas Cat:
Photo credit: arkinspace.com
Although it is about the same size as a domestic cat, it appears larger due to its stocky build and bulky fur coat. Don’t let that coat fool you. This is not a big cat, and he’s not fat, just fluffy. Pallas cats weigh between five and nine pounds with a body length of approximately nineteen to twenty-five inches.
Photo credit: arkinspace.com
Its head has dark streaks along the side, and its tail has four rings. The coat is very long and dense, which serves the animal well given that it lives in a cold climate and spends a lot of time on frozen ground and snow. It lives in a wide area from the Caspian Sea into parts of China and Mongolia.
Below is a video about the Pallas cat. A lovely young lady from the Prospect Park Zoo (NY), talks about this unusual animal. I have also provided Prospect Zoo’s web site in the resources list at the bottom of this post.
Pallas cats live in caves and burrows, which they cleverly annex from other animals. It was once believed that they are nocturnal animals, but it has been discovered that they are crepuscular, which means twilight, so this cat is out hunting during the twilight hours and at dawn. They hunt for small rodents, birds, and insects and have been known to wait outside the dens of small animals to ambush them. Yes, indeed, he’s a very clever cat!
The Pallas Cat is a precursor to our modern domestic cat. It has been around for about twelve million years, and we hope it continues to survive. Note that the pupils of the Pallas cat are round, unlike domestic cats.
Image Credit Flickr User Tambako the Jaguar Mickey Rogers (domestic cat)
So why is the Pallas Cat endangered? People have hunted it heavily for its fur coat. Also, the Pica, which is a small rodent-like mammal, is being poisoned because it is believe to carry the plague. The Pallas cat eats the Pica and is therefore dying by their poisoned meal. Also, as usual, its habitat is being diminished due to human encroachment.
Photo taken by "sevenstar" and posted to Wikimedia Commons: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ochotona_princeps_rockies.JPG
The Pallas Cat is difficult to study because their populations are spread over a great area which is tough to traverse. Nevertheless, there is an effort underway to save the species. The International Species Information Service lists the population at 117 worldwide, with 48 being in the U.S. A species survival plan has been put into place to help. Let’s hope the efforts to save this beautiful creature are successful.
The following PBS video about the Pallas Cat is very informative. Take a few minutes to watch and listen.
If you would like to learn more about this marvelous cat, visit the following web sites:
Thanks for stopping by and visiting. I hope you’ll be by again.
Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza, The Gift of Sunderland and
One Hot Mess, A Child’s Environmental Fable
Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!
To learn more about me, visit my ‘author page’ on Amazon: http://bit.ly/authorJERogers