Pallas' cat (Felis manul)
Pallas' cat (Felis manul) is about the size of a domestic cat but looks much larger due to its stocky build and long, dense coat, which helps shield it from the cold in its frosty habitat. The fur, which is nearly twice as long on the underparts and tail as it is on the top and sides, seasonally changes colour, from a frosted grey in winter to a grey/ fox-red in the spring. Hair length and density also varies seasonally, being longer and heavier in the cold seasons. The short, stocky legs are marked with indistinct black bands and the bushy black-tipped tail is encircled with dark rings towards the end. Contrasting patches of pale white-cream fur exists on the chin, throat, inner ears and just beneath the eye, while two dark stripes run diagonally across each cheek and the crown is patterned with little black spots. The colour and patterning of the hair provides Pallas' cat with a high level of camouflage and amongst rocks it can remain perfectly concealed. The small, rounded ears are set low on the sides of the short, broad head, an adaptation to stalking prey in open country where there is little cover. Unlike other small cats, the pupils in the large eyes of Pallas' cat contract to small circles rather than slits.