Chinese Mountain Cat (aka Chinese Desert Cat)
Genus: Felis (Total members of this genus: Chinese Mountain cat, domestic cat, Jungle cat, Sand cat, Black footed cat, African wildcat, Asian Wildcat, European wildcat)
Species: Felis bieti
The Chinese Mountain cat is built like a little tank, with a solid body and relatively short little legs compare to other cats. It’s not very big, weighing between 10-20 pounds (4.5-9 kg) and is between 38.5-47 inches long (100 cm). It has long thick hair with a warm soft coat of underfur. It’s a pale grey in the winter and a darker shade of brown in the summer months. It has tiny tufts on its ears and black stripes on its tail with a black tip.
The Chinese Mountain Cat lives on the northeastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau, which is an enormous plateau formation extending across most of Tibet, parts of western China, and the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir. It’s higher in elevation than the tallest peaks of the Rocky Mountains and it’s the size of Western Europe. “It stretches approximately 1,000 km (620 mi) north to south and 2,500 km (1,600 mi) east to west. With an average elevation exceeding 4,500 meters (14,800 ft), the Tibetan Plateau is sometimes called “the Roof of the World” and is the world’s highest and largest plateau, with an area of 2,500,000 square km (970,000 sq mi) (about four times the size of France).Sometimes termed the “Third Pole”, the Tibetan Plateau is the headwaters of the drainage basins of most of the streams in surrounding regions. Its tens of thousands of glaciers and other geographical and ecological features serve as a “water tower”, storing water and maintaining flow. The impact of global warming on the Tibetan Plateau is of intense scientific interest.”
The habitat up there is open steppe country, alpine meadows, montane bamboo forest, and coniferous forests. The Chinese Mountain Cat lives on the northeastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. Their lifespan is unknown and there are currently no individuals living in captivity. They are known to be solitary however, and that they live in burrows. They are basically nocturnal and their diet includes rodents (mole rats, vole, and pika- they listen for their scuttlings through their tunnels and lay in wait at a hole’s entrance) and also even sometimes eat large birds such as pheasants.
It is believed their primary threats are humans poisoning their prey base and hunting them for skins. As of 2015, the IUCN lists the Chinese Mountain Cat as Vulnerable.
For additional information on the amazing creatures in the Tibet region, please see this article “The Endangered Mammals of Tibet”. It includes the Giant Panda and the Bengal Tiger and a variety of rare monkeys: http://tibet.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/TheEndageredMammalsOfTibet.pdf