December 11, 2014
A Grumpy Cat
- as seen by -Denise McClean
Since Pallas’s cats came to the Prospect Park Zoo in 2008, visitors have “gone wild” over these fierce little felines. Pallas’s cats are native to the central Asian steppes of Mongolia and China, where they are often hunted for their fur and organs, which are used in traditional medicines. And like many small mammals, they also accidentally get caught in traps set for larger predators, like wolves.
In 1993, the Wildlife Conservation Society helped establish the Chang Tang Nature Reserve in the northwestern part of the Tibetan Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China, the second largest protected area on Earth. The reserve provides protection for a unique assemblage of wildlife, including the Pallas’s cat.
I’ve found visitors relate to the Pallas’s cat because it reminds them of a domestic cat and there are similarities. But Pallas’s cats fall into their own unique genus within the felid family — Otocolobus manul. The most striking difference is their eyes, which feature perfectly round irises instead of the slits most cats have. This feature is hard to notice, however, because the animal’s flat head, squinty brow, and tiny nose give the Pallas’s cat a look of perpetual annoyance.
They are truly the original “grumpy cat.”