The Straw Cat or Otocolobus manul is a wild cat native to the steppes of Asia. These cats are classified in different ways as threatened or endangered, depending on the criteria used. In any case, biologists generally agree that steps should be taken to preserve the Pallas cat, and several zoos around the world have established breeding programs, exchanging the cats they raise to keep them diverse and without.
This wild cat is named after Peter Pallas, who observed them around the 18th century. Pallas initially thought that these cats were the forerunners of the modern Persian breed, as they look more like Persians. Research has shown that the Shovel Cat is actually a completely different species, but unlike a Persian, the Shovel Cat is not something a person wants on their lap!
Pallas cats are about the size of normal domestic cats, with a very muscular and robust body. They also have an extremely long coat and short legs, which makes them look a bit square. Pallas’ cats have clearly flattened faces and, above all, their pupils are round instead of vertical. Their bodies are adapted to living at high altitudes, with wide feet that allow them to walk in the snow, and thick, luxurious coats to keep them warm.
The Straw Cat is gray to taupe in color, with vertical stripes sometimes difficult to identify on the cat’s thick fur. The long coat often has a white edge, which gives the Pallas cat a slightly icy appearance, and cats have a long, thick tail that they use to balance. They have a shelf life of about 12 years, maturing in about a year. Pallas females have litters of six to eight kittens each spring.
Habitat pressure is one of the reasons why Pallas cat populations are declining. The other reason is the poisoning of the main food source of the Pal·les cat, a related rabbit called pika. Pikas are considered parasites in Central Asia, and cats are sometimes poisoned by eating poisoned pikas. Like many members of the feline family, the Pal·les cat can be a bit irascible, and while it may seem tempting to pet one, it is not advisable.