Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Chinese Mountain Cat

Also known as the Chinese Desert Cat, the Chinese Mountain Cat is a small wild cat that resides mainly in parts of Western China. Felis Bieti, it is considered to be closely related to the Jungle Cat and the Wild Cat, some experts even claiming that it is a subspecies of the latter. Weighing around fifteen pounds, the cat is nearly four feet long, including tail, and stands at just under a foot at shoulders.

Bearing some physical resemblance to the European Wild Cat, the Chinese Mountain Cat has a yellowish gray coat, interspersed with black hair and few markings. Underparts are often of an orange coloration. Brownish lines run across cheeks. Hind feet are often brown as well. Tail is thick and ringed with black, along with a black tip. Ears are set widely apart on the flat skull and highlighted by prominent ear tufts. Feet are covered with hair on the underside like the Sand Cat and Black-footed Cat, possibly to aid the feline to move about on hot and cold surfaces in summer and winter in its tough habitat.

Little is understood about the lifestyle of the Chinese Mountain Cat, also known as the pale desert cat; pale cat and grass cat, though it is believed to inhabit thinly wooded jungles and occasionally deserts at high altitudes in parts of Western China. A nocturnal feline, it is known to prey upon pikas, birds and rodents.

There are reports of the cat's sightings in Mongolia and some authorities classify the Chinese Mountain Cat into three subspecies based upon regional differences:

Felis Bieti Bieti - Sichuan and Kansu provinces China

Felis Bieti Vellerosa -
Shensi province China

Felis Bieti Chutuchta -

The Chinese Desert Cats are said to have a mating season in the beginning of the year, typically in February. A medium sized litter of two to four babies is born on average in May, the young gaining independence by eight months of age.

The geographical range of this cat overlaps that of the giant panda. Habitat destruction, limited distribution and poisoning of the prey species have meant that the rare Chinese Mountain Cat is now classified as vulnerable.


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