The manul, according to our unofficial and completely biased poll, is the best wild cat in the world. Sadly, footage of manuls (also known as Pallas's cats) is about as elusive as the felines themselves. So imagine our excitement at finding a clip of not one, not two, but five tiny manul kittens just bopping around in the Selenge Province of northern Mongolia. 

Oh, your day is about to get so much better.

The footage comes our way via Dr Bariushaa Munkhtsog from the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, and it was posted to YouTube by the Siberian Times earlier this week. Dr Munkhtsog is one of the few researchers currently monitoring breeding female Pallas's cats, hoping to gain more insight into their secretive lives.

The species is only rarely seen in the wild, but the cats do occasionally pop up on a camera trap somewhere we didn't expect to find them. This latest sighing is off-the-charts adorable, but it's not the only glimpse of young manuls we've gotten recently. Just last week, birdwatchers visiting China's Qinghai Province were lucky enough to film two youngsters play-fighting and practising their hunting skills in a gorge on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau. 

Beneath the extraordinary amount of fur required to keep them warm in their high-altitude habitats in central Asia, manuls (Otocolobus manul) are about as big as your own couch-lounging feline – only with stumpier legs, very low-set ears and some rather unusual peepers (the pupils contract into circles, not vertical slits like those of other cats). Even their vocal skills are a little unusual.

It all adds up to make a cat who is perfect in its quirkiness – and an undisputed master of feline facial expression:  

06 02 2014 Manul Pallass Cat 7
Image: Tambako The Jaguar, Flickr

ht: Wired


Top header image: IUCNweb, Flickr