Pallas's cat

The Pallas's cat (Otocolobus manul), also called manul, is a small wild cat with a broad but fragmented distribution in the grasslands and montane steppes of Central Asia. It is negatively affected by habitat degradation, prey base decline and hunting, and has therefore been classified as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List since 2002.[1]

The Pallas's cat was first described in 1776 by the German naturalist Peter Simon Pallas.[3][4]

Pallas's cat
Manul at Rotterdam Zoo
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Felidae
Subfamily: Felinae
Genus: Otocolobus
Brandt, 1841
O. manul
Binomial name
Otocolobus manul
(Pallas, 1776)
Manul distribution
Distribution of Pallas's cat

Felis manul[2]


Pallas Cat
The ears are set low and wide apart

The Pallas's cat is about the size of a domestic cat. Its body is 46 to 65 cm (18 to 26 in) long and its tail 21 to 31 cm (8.3 to 12.2 in). It weighs 2.5 to 4.5 kg (5.5 to 9.9 lb). The combination of its stocky posture and long, dense fur makes it appear stout and plush. Its fur is ochre with dark vertical bars on the torso and forelegs. The winter coat is greyer and less patterned than the summer coat. There are clear black rings on the tail and dark spots on the forehead. The cheeks are white with narrow black stripes running from the corners of the eyes. The chin and throat are also white, merging into the greyish, silky fur of the underparts. Concentric white and black rims around the eyes accentuate their rounded shape. The legs are proportionately shorter than those of other cats, the ears are set very low and wide apart, and the claws are unusually short. The face is shortened compared with other cats, giving it a flattened look. The pupils are circular rather than vertical slits. The short jaw has fewer teeth than is typical among cats, with the first pair of upper premolars missing, but the canine teeth are large.[5]

Distribution and habitat

The Pallas's cat is native to the steppe regions of Central Asia, where it inhabits elevations of up to 5,050 m (16,570 ft) in the Tibetan Plateau.[6] It is also found in parts of Afghanistan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, India, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan, and occur across much of western China. In the south of Russia it occurs in the Transbaikal Krai, and, less frequently, in the Altai, Tyva, and Buryatia Republics.[1] In 1997, it was reported for the first time as being present in the eastern Sayan Mountains.[7]

Until the early 1970s, only two Pallas's cats were recorded in the Transcaucasus, both encountered near the Aras River in northwestern Iran.[8] Populations in the Caspian Sea region, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, are thought to be declining and becoming increasingly isolated.[9][10]

In recent years, several Pallas' cats were photographed for the first time during camera trapping surveys:

In Ladakh's Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary, Pallas's cats were sighted near Hanle River at an altitude of 4,202 m (13,786 ft) in 2013, and at 4,160 m (13,650 ft) in 2015.[18]

Ecology and behaviour

Pallas's cat at the Zurich Zoo

Pallas's cats are solitary. Both males and females scent mark their territory. They spend the day in caves, rock crevices, or marmot burrows, and emerge in the late afternoon to begin hunting. They are not fast runners, and hunt primarily by ambush or stalking, using low vegetation and rocky terrain for cover. They feed largely on diurnally active prey species such as gerbils, pikas, voles and chukar partridges, and sometimes catch young marmots.[5]


The breeding season is relatively short due to the extreme climate in the cat's native range. Estrus lasts between 26 and 42 hours, which is also shorter than in many other felids. Pallas's cats give birth to a litter of around two to six kittens after a gestation period of 66 to 75 days, typically in April or May. Such large litters may compensate for a high rate of infant mortality in the harsh environment. The young are born in sheltered dens lined with dried vegetation, feathers, and fur. The kittens weigh around 90 g (3.2 oz) at birth, and have a thick coat of fuzzy fur, which is replaced by the adult coat after around two months. They are able to begin hunting at four months, and reach adult size at six months. Pallas's cats have been reported to live up to 11 years in captivity.[5]


Female manul: Note the "pinhole" shape of its contracted pupil

The Pallas's cat has been hunted for its fur in relatively large numbers in China, Mongolia, and Russia; international trade in manul pelts largely ceased since the late 1980s.[19] About 1,000 hunters of Pallas's cats remain in Mongolia, with a mean estimated take of 2,000 cats per year. Cats are also shot when mistaken for the commonly hunted marmot, and trapped incidentally in both legholds set for wolves and foxes and snares set for marmots and hares. They are also killed by herding dogs. Their fat and organs are used as medicine in Mongolia and Russia. While Mongolia has not recorded any trophy exports, pelt exports have grown since 2000, with 143 reported exported in 2007.[1]


The Pallas's cat is listed in CITES Appendix II. Hunting is prohibited in all range countries except Mongolia, where the species has no legal protection despite being classified as Near Threatened in the country. Since 2009, it is legally protected in Afghanistan, where all hunting and trade in its parts is banned.[1]

The cat is being studied in the Daursky Nature Reserve in Russia to obtain new information about habitats and migrations, and to estimate the survival rate of kittens and adult cats.[20]

In captivity

Manul kitten
Manul kitten in Parken Zoo, Sweden

As of 2010, there were 47 Pallas's cats in 19 member institutions of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums; four litters were expected. No births and three deaths occurred in 2009. The 30-day mortality of 44.9% is the highest mortality rate of any small wild cat. The seasonality of its reproduction makes it difficult to control reproductive cycles.[21] Keeping Pallas's cats healthy in captivity is difficult. They breed well, but survival rates are low owing to infections, which are attributed to an underdeveloped immune system and exposure to viruses not present in their natural high-altitude habitat.[22]

In June 2010, five kittens were born in the Red River Zoo in Fargo, USA.[23] A female was artificially inseminated for the first time at the Cincinnati Zoo, also in the United States, and gave birth to three kittens in June 2011.[24] In May 2013, three kittens were born at the Nordens Ark zoo in Sweden.[25] In May 2016, four kittens were born at the Korkeasaari zoo in Finland.[26] In March 2017, five kittens were born in the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, Utah. In April 2017, five kittens were again born in the Red River Zoo in Fargo.[27]

Taxonomic history

In 1776, Peter Simon Pallas first described a Pallas’s cat using the scientific name Felis manul. Pallas encountered Pallas’s cats during his travels in eastern Siberia.[3][4] Several Pallas's cat zoological specimens were subsequently described:

Otocolobus was proposed as generic name in 1858 by the Russian explorer and naturalist Nikolai Severtzov.[30] The zoologist Reginald Innes Pocock recognized the taxonomic classification of Otocolobus in 1907, described several Pallas's cat skulls in detail, and considered the Pallas's cat an aberrant form of Felis.[31]

In the 1960s, John Ellerman and Terence Morrison-Scott considered

Since 2017, the Cat Classification Task Force of the Cat Specialist Group recognises only two subspecies as valid taxa, namely:[33]

  • O. m. manul syn. O. m. ferrugineus in the western and northern part of Central Asia from Iran to Mongolia;
  • O. m. nigripectus in the Himalayas from Kashmir to Bhutan.


Following genetic studies, the monotypic genus Otocolobus has been proposed to be placed in the tribe Felini together with the genera Felis and Prionailurus, because of their close phylogenetic relationship.[34] Otocolobus manul is estimated to have diverged from a leopard cat ancestor about 5.19 million years ago.[35]


  1. ^ a b c d e Ross, S.; Barashkova, A.; Farhadinia, M. S.; Appel, A.; Riordan, P.; Sanderson, J. & Munkhtsog, B. (2016). "Otocolobus manul". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2016: e.T15640A87840229. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T15640A87840229.en.
  2. ^ Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Felis manul". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 535. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
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  7. ^ Koshkarev, E. (1998). "Discovery of manul in eastern Sayan". Cat News (29): 12–13.
  8. ^ Geptner, V. G., Sludskii, A. A. (1992) [1972]. "Manul. Felis (Otocolobus) manul Pallas, 1776". Mlekopitaiuščie Sovetskogo Soiuza. Vysšaia Škola, Moskva [Mammals of the Soviet Union. Volume II, Part 2: Carnivora (Hyaenas and Cats)]. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution and the National Science Foundation. pp. 665–696.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
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  10. ^ Habibi, K. (2003). Mammals of Afghanistan. Coimbatore, India: Zoo Outreach Organisation with assistance from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. ISBN 978-8188722068. OCLC 61347929.
  11. ^ Chalani, M.; Ghoddousi, A.; Ghadirian, T.; Goljani, R. (2008). "First Pallas's Cat Photo-trapped in Khojir National Park, Iran". Cat News (49): 7.
  12. ^ WWF Bhutan (2012). Near threatened Pallas' Cat found in WCP. Wangchuck Centennial Park and WWF, 16 October 2012.
  13. ^ Thinley, P. (2013). "First photographic evidence of a Pallas's cat in Jigme Dorji National Park, Bhutan". Cat News (58): 27–28.
  14. ^ Hameed, S.; Ud Din, J.; Shah, K. A.; Kabir, M.; Ayub, M.; Khan, S.; Bischof, R.; Nawaz, D. A.; Nawaz, M. A. (2014). "Pallas's cat photographed in Qurumber National Park, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan". Cat News (60): 21–22.
  15. ^ Shrestha, B., Ale, S., R. Jackson, Thapa, N., Gurung, L. P., Adhikari, S., Dangol, L., Basnet, B., Subedi, N., Dhakal, M. (2014). "Nepal's first Pallas's cat". Cat News (60): 23–24.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  16. ^ Pokharel, S. (2014). New wild cat species found in ACAP area. República, 12 February 2014.
  17. ^ Himalayan News Service (12 February 2014). "Rare wild cat found in Annapurna region". The Himalayan Times.
  18. ^ Mahar, N., Shrotriya, S., Habib, B., Singh, S., Takpa, J. and Hussain, S. A. (2017). "Recent records of the Pallas's Cat in Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary, Ladakh, India". Cat News (65): 36–37.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  19. ^ Nowell, K.; Jackson, P. (1996). "Manul Octobulus manul (Pallas, 1776)". Wild Cats: status survey and conservation action plan. IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland.
  20. ^ Barashkova, A.N., Kirilyuk, V.E. and Smelansky, I.E. 2017. Significance of Protected Areas for the Pallas’s Cat (Otocolobus manul Felidae) Conservation in Russia. Nature Conservation Research. Заповедная наука 2017. 2 (Suppl. 1): 113–124.
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  22. ^ Smith, S. (2008). "Himalayan kitten at park" (Video). BBC News.
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  24. ^ CREW (June 2011). "Pallas' cats born from artificial insemination". Cincinnati Zoo's Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife.
  25. ^ Bohusläningen (June 2013). "pallaskatterna har fått ungar". Bohusläningen.
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  27. ^ "A purr-fect result: 5 rare Pallas cats born at Red River Zoo". Retrieved 2017-05-11.
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  30. ^ Severtzow, M. N. (1858). "Notice sur la classification multisériale des Carnivores, spécialement des Félidés, et les études de zoologie générale qui s'y rattachent". Revue et Magasin de Zoologie Pure et Appliquée. 2e Série (X): 386.
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  32. ^ a b c Ellerman, J. R.; Morrison-Scott, T. C. S. (1966). "Felis manul Pallas, 1776". Checklist of Palaearctic and Indian mammals 1758 to 1946 (2nd ed.). London: British Museum of Natural History.
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External links

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Domestic long-haired cat

A domestic long-haired cat is a cat of mixed ancestry – thus not belonging to any particular recognised cat breed – possessing a coat of semi-long to long fur. Domestic long-haired cats should not be confused with the British Longhair, American Longhair, or other breeds with "Longhair" names, which are standardized breeds defined by various registries. Domestic long-haireds are the second most popular cat in the United States after the domestic short-haired; one in ten of the ninety million cats in the US is a domestic long-hair. Other generic terms are long-haired house cat and, in British English, long-haired moggie.

In the cat fancy, and among veterinarians and animal control agencies, domestic long-haired cats may be classified with organisation-specific terminology (often capitalized), such as Domestic Longhair (DLH), House Cat, Longhair (HCL), or Semi-Longhair Household Pet. Such a pseudo-breed is used for registry and shelter/rescue classification purposes, and breeds such as the Persian cat. While not bred as show cats, some mixed-breed cats are actually pedigreed and entered into cat shows that have non-purebred "Household Pet" divisions. Show rules vary; Fédération Internationale Féline (FIFe) permits "any eye colour, all coat colours and patterns, any coat length or texture, and any length of tail" (basically any healthy cat). Others may be more restrictive; an example from the World Cat Federation: "The colours chocolate and cinnamon, as well as their dilution (lilac and fawn) are not recognized in any combinations...[and] the pointed pattern is also not recognized".

Domestic long-haireds come in all genetically possible cat colours including tabby, tortoiseshell, bi-coloured, and smoke. Domestic long-haireds can have fur that is up to six inches long. They can also have a mane similar to a Maine Coon's, as well as toe tufts and ear tufts. Some long-haired cats are not able to maintain their own coat, which must be frequently groomed by a human or may be prone to matting. Because of their wide gene pool, domestic long-haireds are not predisposed to any genetically inherited problems.


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Only the Caspian seal is endangered.


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Wildlife of Ladakh

The flora and fauna of [Ladakh] was first studied by [Ferdinand Stoliczka], an [Austria]n[Czech people|Czech][palaeontologist], who carried out a massive expedition in the region in the 1870s. The fauna of Ladakh have much in common with that of Central Asia generally, and especially those of the Tibetan Plateau. An exception to this are the birds, many of which migrate from the warmer parts of India to spend the summer in Ladakh. For such an arid area, Ladakh has a great diversity of birds — a total of 318 species have been recorded (Including 30 species not seen since 1960). Many of these birds reside or breed at high-altitude wetlands such as Tso Moriri.

Extant Carnivora species

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