Nick-named after a Prussian biologist, the Pallas’ cat, or manul, is relatively small and extremely, and I mean ridiculously, fluffy, with low-set, rounded ears.
That basically gives it the appearance of a guilty stuffed-toy. I mean, it is going to be hard to talk about these little guys without getting all misty-eyed and squeeing. They’re small, fluffy, tiny round ears and big fluffy feet. They look like what toy stuffed-cats look like.
They were ‘discovered’ – in that way that everything was, which means a rich, white person (the aforementioned Prussian Biologist, Peter Simon Pallas, in this case) wrote about and/or shot one – in 1776 around the Lake Baikal region in modern Russia.
Man, Lake Baikal…that’s an article of its own on We Lack Discipline one day.
Today we understand it has massive range and distribution – basically stretching from Siberia to Armenia via the Himalayas. This is one of the reasons they are so fluffy, is temperatures can be very low and they need to keep themselves warm.
As a result of its large distribution, though, it is one of the few species we’re likely to see on this list not of concern to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and not on their infamous red-list of endangered species or species of concern.
That is as of their 2020 reviews, and that’s not to say the cats don’t have their problems. The region they inhabit, like much of the world’s wilderness, is being rapidly inhabited, exploited or destroyed.
Being small cats they mainly hideout in rocky crags, small caverns and crevices and it eats small things – rodents, bunnies, pika, that sort of thing.
One of the most remarkable things about the manul is, unlike so many other smaller cat species, they have round pupils, rather than the centred-vertical slit-type that most cats have.
They are absolute masters of disguise, as anyone who hasn’t seen one in a zoo will tell you. Their coat is perfectly coloured for the kind of sandy-grassy-shadows they like to dwell in and there is a famous image of a manul sitting among rocks and the challenge is to spot the cat.
There’s not a lot more I can tell you about them, I’m afraid, because they’re much of a catness! A very catty sort of cat, is a manul. There’s a very cute picture of one with its feet up in a zoo, so I’ll probably just put that and be done.
Want to understand what cats are? Why not read our Introduction?
Or if you want to see what number 9 is why not check out the enigmatic jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi)!