Chinese Mountain Cat
|Photo by Hans Reinhard|
Common Name: Chinese Mountain Cat
Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrata)
Genus: Felinae (Felis)
Misc: Another one of the world’s least known felines, the Chinese Mountain Cat was originally called the Chinese Desert Cat, but in 1992 it was agreed to change it to the Chinese Mountain Cat since it never actually inhabited the desert at all.
Size and Appearance: A small stocky built cat with relatively short legs, the Chinese Mountain cat weighs between 10-20 pounds and is between 38.5-47 inches long. Its coat is long and dense with abundant underfur. The color is pale gray in winter and darker brown in summer, and the backs are somewhat darker than the rest of the body. It has indistinct stripes on the sides and legs, and the ears have small tufts. The backs of the ears are the same dark color as the back, and have a pale reddish-brown area below each ear. They have a relatively short tail which has 5-6 dark gray bands and a black tip.
Habitat: Open steppe country, alpine meadows, montane bamboo forest, coniferous forests.
Distribution: The northeastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau.
Reproduction and Offspring: The breeding season is between January – March, with litters most often born in May. Litters range from 2-4 young, and the offspring reach independence at 7-8 months.
Longevity unknown. There are no Chinese Mountain Cats currently in captivity.
Social System and Communication: Solitary. Males and females both make their homes in burrows, with the females’ being deeper and more secure than the males’, and they only have one entrance.
Hunting and Diet: Primarily nocturnal, the majority of their diet is rodent-based (mole rats, white-tailed pine vole, and pikas), but also includes birds (mostly pheasants). The hunt by listening for the mole rats movements through tunnels and then dig them out.
Principal Threats: The primary threat at this time is believed to be the poisoning of the prey base, which is also killing carnivores in the area, including the Mountain Cat. They are also hunted for the local fur trade, and their skins turn up regularly in the local markets.
Status: CITES: Appendix II. IUCN: Insufficiently known.
Felid TAG 2000 recommendation: Chinese mountain (desert) cat (Felis bieti). A small, longhaired species native only to central China, this cat is occasionally maintained in Chinese zoos. Given the remoteness of its habitat, coupled with the lack of information and availability, North American zoos are not encouraged to acquire this species.
Information taken from IUCN Status Survey
This Chinese Mountain cat obviously does not live on Easy Street.