A Pallas Cat inside a snow-covered hollowed out tree

Pallas’ Cat

  • The Zoo currently has 3 Pallas’ Cats that are part of the Species Survival Plan. (SSP). Scientists and zoo professionals work together to help endangered and threatened species through cooperative breeding programs, research, education, fundraising and reintroduction.
  • The Red River Zoo is the only Zoo associated with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to successfully breed Pallas’ Cats consistently.

What do I look like?

I am a mammal that is about the same size as a large house cat. I am distinguished by my short broad head and my low-set ears. My large eyes are set high, forward and we have large round pupils. My bushy coat makes me look larger than I actually am. I have a strong body with short legs that helps me to climb trees and rocks. My coat varies in color from light gray to brown and I have thick rings around my tail. Every hair on my body has a white tip which gives me a frosty look.

What do I eat?

I am a carnivore; this means I like to eat meat like gerbils, voles, picas, and partridges. My favorite food is the pica, a small rabbit-like rodent. I am not a fast runner, so I ambush or stalk my prey.

Where do I live?

Pallas’ Cats are native to the steppe regions of Central Asia where we inhabit elevations of up to 16,570 feet. The largest wild population lives in Mongolia in Asia. We live in dens, rock crevices and burrows.

How big is my family?

I like it cold! It is natural for me to live in arid and cold climates with temperatures that reach 60 degrees below zero! I have the longest hair of all the wildcats. My belly and tail hair is twice the length of the other hair on my body. The longer hair adds extra insulation when I am lying on the frozen ground and snow. My entire body is covered with hair, even my ears, to protect me from frost bite.

How am I adapted for winter?

I spend my winters in the freezing Himalayan Mountains. I naturally grow an extra thick coat to keep me warm and insulated. My nose is also very helpful. I have a large sinus cavity that warms the cold air that I breathe in. I also have a natural raincoat and my skin gives off an oily substance that protects me from fog and snow.

Did You Know?

Pallas’ Cats were discovered in the 18th century by a man named Peter Pallas.

Unlike most cats, Pallas’ Cats do not have front premolar teeth, so they have 29 teeth compared to the normal 30.

Pallas’ Cats were recently discovered in Nepal- the first time ever discovered in this country.

The Pallas’ Cat has long been hunted for its fur in relatively large numbers in China, Mongolia and Russia. There are approximately 50 Pallas’ Cats in U.S. Zoos and wild populations are decreasing. Pallas’ Cats are not easy to breed in captivity and keeping Pallas’ Cats healthy in captivity is difficult. Survival rates are low due to infections, which are attributed to an under-developed immune system. In their natural high-altitude habitat they would normally not be exposed to viruses that cause infections.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Felidae

Genus: Otocolobus

Species: O. Manul