Cute cat videos are widely known to be the foundational bedrock and unofficial currency of the internet. It takes an incredibly high rating on the adorability index for one to distinguish itself as a true classic, worthy of enshrinement in the annals of online feline fame.
Well, hold onto your butts, because the Siberian Times just posted footage of some manul kittens playing around in Mongolia. Captured by Bariushaa Munkhtsog, a wildlife biologist based at the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, the video is a rare window into the world of this elusive wild cat, also known as the Pallas's cat, which is native to the steppes of central Eurasia.
Manul kittens in Mongolia. Video: Siberian Times/YouTube
With their puffy coats, stumpy legs, and flattened face, manul kittens look like ready-made Pixar characters. Their ears are short and set widely apart, giving them an almost Ewok-like quality. In contrast to the vertical slit-shaped pupils of most other cats, theirs are round and expressive. Though they only grow to the size of domestic cats, their thick fur coats—the densest in the feline family—beef them up a bit, both in size and in evident cuddliness.
All of these adaptations add up to a predator superbly suited to its mountain and grassland habitat. Manul cats can't run very fast on their adorably squat legs, but they are skilled at ambushing small animals such as pikas, gerbils, voles, marmots, partridges, beetles, and grasshoppers that share their high altitude habitat.
Indeed, Manul cats are so practiced at patiently watching and waiting for their prey that they can apparently sense when they are, in turn, under surveillance. The below footage beautifully captures the moment a manul cat validates its hunch that a camera trap had been placed in front of its den in Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent, England.
The video proves that these cats are not only keen observers of their environment, but that they also have some impressive slapstick comedy chops.
This Manul cat is wise to our human tricks. Video: SCARCE WORLDWIDE/YouTube
Various species have been vaulted into online stardom in recent years, among them sloths, red pandas, and honey badgers. Given that it is essentially an ultra-expressive furball with a penchant for badass surprise attacks, the manul cat is no doubt poised to be next.