HOME Pallas Cat Study and Conservation Program

P.O. Box 547, Novosibirsk
Russia, 630090


Last updated:
March 21, 2017


Yahiin-Nur lake surroundings, Dornod, Mongolia, 15.05.2000. © Vadim KiriliukThe Pallas' cat is a mammal of felines, roughly the size of a domestic cat. Body length (males) is 50-62 cm on average, body mass reaches 4.5 kg. Its appearance is rather unusual due to its long and dense body fur, thick furry tail that looks as if it's been cut, elongated bunches of hair on cheeks and under bluntly rounded, widely set ears, and slightly flattened head. Coat color is mostly light gray, though it may vary to russet or buff, with narrow black stripes running along its back, while white hair tips look akin to a veil. Two dark stripes running from eyes down the muzzle and small black spots on the forehead are characteristic features of Pallas' cat appearance that set it aside from other wild cats.

Pallas' cat prefers to settle on rocky outcrops and treeless mountainsides, sometimes as high as 3000 meters. Pallas' cats make their dens in burrows of marmots and other burrowing animals, as well as in mountain crevices. Their diet consists mainly of small animals - pikas, rodents, and birds. The Pallas' cat is a solitary, nocturnal animal, mostly active at dusk and in the night. In event of danger it conceals itself skillfully among rocks and dry grass. Mating occurs in February and March, birth is given in April-May.

Kulusutai village surroundings, Onon district, Chita region, 5.02.2004. © Anna BarashkovaThe Pallas' cat habitat is rather large, stretching from Transcaucasus to Transbaikal, Mongolia and northeastern China, but throughout the whole range the Pallas' cat is encountered only sporadically. Northern border of the habitat crosses into Russian territory, where the animal lives in regions situated along the north-eastern border with Kazakhstan, and along the border with Mongolia and China, namely Altai, Tyva, Buryatia and Chita region, inhabiting steppes and semi-arid territories.

Pallas cat's tracks. Kulusutai village surroundings, Onon district, Chita region, 9.02.2004. © Anna BarashkovaPresently, three subspecies of Pallas' cat are known: siberian (Otocolobus manul manul Pallas, 1776), living in the northern parts of the habitat and characterized by mostly gray coat color; middle-asian (O. m. ferrugineus Ognev, 1928), reddish fur its distinctive feature (found mostly in Turkmenia, Afghanistan and northern Iran); and tibetan (O. m. nigripectus Hodgson, 1842), having coat of more darkish shades, as well as black stripes on body and tail and patches of light fur on the head (lives in north Pakistan, north India, Tibet, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan).

Slide-show on CatChannel.comThe other and more preferable in Russia and Asiatic countries name of Pallas' cat is manul. The word "manul" was borrowed from Mongolian language long ago. Alternative name of the animal, 'Pallas Cat' stems from Peter Simon Pallas who was the first to encounter manul on the shore of the Caspian sea in the XVIII century. Latin name 'Otocolobus' is produced by fusing two Greek words: 'us, otos', which means 'ear', and 'kolobos', which means 'ugly'. In literal translation that means 'ugly-eared'. In fact, the inner structure of Pallas' cat ears differs from that of other felines. In appearance they are bluntly rounded, widely set, with protruding bunches of long hair.

Supported by Global Greengrants Fund     Maintained by A. Barashkova Translated by J. Krakovna and A. Barashkova     Design: D. Senotrusov