Chinese mountain cat

Chinese mountain cat
Chinese Mountain Cat[1]
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Felis
Species: F. bieti
Binomial name
Felis bieti
Milne-Edwards, 1892
Distribution of the Chinese Mountain Cat (in green)

The Chinese Mountain Cat (Felis bieti), also known as the Chinese Desert Cat, is a small wild cat of western China. It is the least known member of the genus Felis, the common cats. A 2007 DNA study found that it is a subspecies of Felis silvestris; should the scientific community accept this result, this cat would be reclassified as Felis silvestris bieti.[3]

Some authorities regard the chutuchta and vellerosa subspecies of the Wildcat as Chinese Mountain Cat subspecies.[1]



Except for the colour of its fur, this cat resembles a European Wildcat in its physical appearance. It is 27–33 in (69–84 cm) long, plus a 11.5–16 in (29–41 cm) tail. The adult weight can range from 6.5 to 9 kilograms (14 to 20 lb). They have a relatively broad skull, and long hair growing between the pads of their feet.[4]

The fur is sand-coloured with dark guard hairs; the underside is whitish, legs and tail bear black rings. In addition there are faint dark horizontal stripes on the face and legs, which may be hardly visible. The ears and tail have black tips, and there are also a few dark bands on the tail.[4]

Distribution and ecology

The Chinese Mountain Cat is endemic to China and has a limited distribution over the northeastern parts of the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai and northern Sichuan.[5] It inhabits sparsely-wooded forests and shrublands,[4] and is occasionally found in true deserts[citation needed]. It has been observed in environments from 2,800 to 4,100 metres (9,200 to 13,500 ft) in elevation.[4]

The Chinese Mountain Cat is active at night; it hunts for rodents, pikas, and birds. They breed between January and March, giving birth to two to four kittens in a secluded burrow.[4]


The species was first described in 1892 from specimens collected by Félix Biet and, as of 2007, was known only from six animals, all living in Chinese zoos, and a few skins in museums. In summer 2007 some photos of this elusive cat were caught by camera traps in Sichuan.[6]

This cat is protected in China, but it is still endangered due to the organised poisoning of pikas, its main prey; these poisonings either kill the cats unintentionally, or withdraw their food basis.


  1. ^ a b Wozencraft, W. Christopher (16 November 2005). "Order Carnivora (pp. 532-628)". In Wilson, Don E., and Reeder, DeeAnn M., eds. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2 vols. (2142 pp.). pp. 534. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ Breitenmoser, U., Breitenmoser-Wursten, C., Sanderson, J., Mallon, D.P. & Driscoll, C. (2008). Felis silvestris ssp. bieti. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 18 January 2009. Database entry includes justification for why this animal is vulnerable
  3. ^ "The Near Eastern Origin of Cat Domestication". Retrieved July 7, 2007. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Sunquist, Mel; Sunquist, Fiona (2002). Wild cats of the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 57–59. ISBN 0-226-77999-8. 
  5. ^ Li He, Rosa García-Perea, Ming Li and Fuwen Wei: Distribution and conservation status of the endemic Chinese mountain cat Felis bieti. Oryx (2004), 38: 55-61 Cambridge University Press. 2004
  6. ^ Science 317, S. 1151, 31. August 2007 pdf Access to article requires subscription or payment.

External links

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