Felis bieti

Chinese mountain cat

Felis bieti

Chinese mountain cat

It is called a grass cat by the fur colour very similar to the colour of the burned grass. This colouration appears in the warm months, and in the winter it becomes grey.

Description

It is a small cat, with red stripes all over its body covered with quite fluffy fur. Each hair has several colours such as grey, red, brown or yellow. Fur in the winter gets thicker and loses on density during the warm summer months.

The long whiskers of the cat are directed downwards, which perfectly fits the stereotypical Chinese moustache.

The pointed ears of the Chinese mountain cat are finished with characteristic short red tassels. They are a gentle extension of each ear.

The tiny nose contrasts with the impressive, fluffy tail, which has black rings and the tip of the same colour. Because of it this cat resembles another predatory mammal, living on another continent – a racoon.

The Chinese mountain cat is massively built, for its size, but has narrow, short feet. These features are also visible in the American predator of the Procyonidae family, which intensifies the visual similarity.

Behaviour

These cats live exclusively in mountainous areas of Tibet. They thrive in harsh climatic conditions from dry, hot and windy to very cold. They function on grass steppes, alpine meadows and thickets. They avoid areas with poor vegetation, but they also do not tolerate forest surroundings.

It is suspected that the Chinese mountain cat is a loner, active mainly at night. However, it was observed that during the mating season it can share a house with an individual of the opposite sex.

During the day it rests in burrows dug in the ground directed towards the south. Sometimes it also uses the burrows of other animals.

The breeding season of these cats occurs at the beginning of the year, from January to March. Small Chinese kittens are born in burrows on the mountain. After about eight months they are ready to start the lonely life of an independent Chinese mountain cat.

Fringed ears turn out to be a very efficient tool for hunting. Grass cats use their hearing to track moles that dig tunnels underground. Thanks to their efficient paws they dig up mammals unaware of their presence into the light and end their lives. They also hunt for pikas, voles and birds. Chinese mountain cats are also not foreign to scavenging behaviour.

Unusually for such small cats, no evidence was found of interbreeding grass cats with domestic cats.

Threats

The grass cat population is decreasing and the cat is threatened with extinction. It often dies when it eats a poisoned carrion. The natives, fighting with the populations of the Chinese mountain cat victims, significantly limit its resources of available food. Sometimes they leave poisoned meat near the cat’s burrows specifically to return for its body.

The Chinese mountain cat’s fur is used to make traditional hats and clothes. That is why it is often killed for trade.

Natural dangers threaten only young grass cats, that can be killed by wolves or bears. Adult Chinese cats do not pose a threat to other predators and are not attacked by them.

Source of picture: https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-ten-species-of-small-wild-cats-found-in-asia.html

Author: Małgorzata Banaszkiewicz

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