Who can resist those little fluffy balls of fur purring at your feet? Okay, so maybe cats aren’t always so cute, especially when they’re biting your fingers or clawing your curtains. But even the haters will love the Pallas’s cat, which has been dubbed the most expressive in the world.
This cat’s facial expressions are so incredible, you’d think it was a cartoon come to life! Unfortunately, you can’t just go to your local shelter and bring one home as a pet. These endangered and wild kitties live in the grasslands and steppes of Central Asia. They even have their own preserve in Asia’s Altai Mountains.
The Pallas’s cat is named for German naturalist, Peter Pallas, who discovered the adorable creature and gave it the scientific name Felis manul. This was later changed to Otocolobus manul, which means “ugly eared”, to reflect the short round ears that, personally, I think are rather cute. What’s more is that the chances are that you may have seen these adorable cats before. They have been the subject of many viral memes. You’ll recognize their long furry coats, short legs, and extremely expressive faces. These cats, despite looking quite large, are actually not much bigger than a house cat, and, on average, they weigh only 12 pounds. Their plush fur makes them appear larger than what they truly are.
That thick fur helps to keep these felines warm in cold climates, but the Pallas’s cat does not like snow. They tend to live in cool, dry areas and keep a sandy-colored coat to blend in with surrounding rocks and earth.
While they may look cute and friendly, these cats are not very social creatures at all. They spend most of their time hiding out in caves and crevices alone and can be quite aggressive. According to Fiona and Mel Sunquist, authors of The Wildcat Book, a litter of Pallas’s cats born at the Cincinnati Zoo showed aggression toward each other from birth.
At first, zookeepers thought the kittens were having trouble breathing, but “when they listened closely, they realized that the noise they were hearing was the kittens growling and hissing at each other – before they had even opened their eyes!” Sadly, the Pallas’s cat is on the decline. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified the animals are “near threatened”. Agriculture, mining, and general industry encroaching on their habitat is to blame.
They are also greatly affected by rodent extermination campaigns because small animals such as marmot and pika are the main food source for Pallas’s cats. Even their fur, fat, and organs are sometimes taken and used in traditional medicines. Pallas’s cats only live to be six years old in the wild now, but thanks to zoos and preserves, they can live up to the age of 12 in captivity.
Hopefully these fluffy creatures won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, and they will provide us with many more cute and adorable memes to come! If you’d like to see the most expressive cats in action, check out the video below. You can watch two of these kitties roam their enclosure in a zoo. Sure makes me wish I could take one home with me!
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