Print Page | Contact Us | Sign In | Join Today

SSP/TAG:         Pallas’ cats                                                                   DATE: 2/28/06



Name:            Cornelia J. Ketz-Riley              e-mail:


Address:        Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Mosier Hall, 1800 Denison Ave, Manhattan, KS 66506                                                                                              

Phone: (day) (785) 532-5690          (FAX) (785) 532-4309


MORBIDITY (Significant illnesses/issues facing this species this year):


Toxoplasmosis is still a problem in the captive Pallas’ cat population, but in the last two years the neonatal mortality due to Toxoplasmosis has decreased. This has been accomplished partially due to prophylactic treatment of breeding animals and neonates against toxoplasmosis, but also partially due to adjustments in husbandry and nutrition for these cats to prevent exposure to toxoplasmosis.


Concerns have been raised about the prevalence of feline herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1) in the Pallas’ cat population because of the ability to detect FHV-1 by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, particularly in cats with no history of upper respiratory or ocular disease. At this time, it is not known if positive PCR tests are due to vaccine strains or natural exposure. It is important to remember that vaccination against FHV-1 does not prevent infection but minimizes the risk of clinical expression of disease. For this reason, it is recommended that movement of Pallas’ cats not be predicated on the results of a signle PCR test, but should take in consideration any clinical history of severe and recurring episodes of upper respiratory or ocular disease with accompanying virus isolation or positive PCR test results.


MORTALITY (Causes of death in this year):


Cause of Death                                                        SB #               Sex                 Age

Kidney Failure/Old age                                           238                 F                      16

Multiple myeloma                                                    285                 M                     12

Pyometra                                                                   386                 F                      6

Fatty Liver Disease                                                  483                 M                     4

Bacterial Hepatitis/Septicemia                              498                 M                     4

Neonatal Unknown Cause                                                914                 U                     0

Neonatal Unknown Cause                                                915                 U                     0

Neonatal Unknown Cause                                                916                 U                     0

Neonatal/Toxoplasmosis                                        917                 F                      0

Umbilical infection/sepsis/maternal neglect       918                 M                     0

Umbilical infection/sepsis/maternal neglect       919                 F                      0



Males: 3                    

Females:  3              

Unknown: 3

Number of pairs recommended for breeding: 7

Number of pairs bred: 2

Number of births: 9

MALES:  mother-reared:3                           hand-reared:

FEMALES: mother-reared: 2                      hand-reared:1

Unknown: 3


ANESTHESTIC PROTOCOLS (Please list successful and unsuccessful protocols):


For inhalation anesthesia: Isoflurane – Induction via face mask or chamber (crate) at 4-5 % isoflurane in 4 L Oxygen and maintenance via endotracheal tube (approx. size 4 mm depending on size of cat) at 2-3% Isoflurane in 1- 2 L Oxygen (depending on size of cat).

Diazepam 0.3-0.5 mg/kg PO as premedication can be considered if cats are not crate-trained and the capture could be stressful. Butorphanol 0.2-0.4 mg/kg IM or buprenorphine, 0.01-0.02 mg/kg IM or IV, can be added for invasive procedures. Buprenorphine (partial mu agonist) is believed to provide better analgesia than butorphanol (kappa agonist) in cats.

For injectable anesthesia: Medetomidine 0.04-0.05 mg/kg plus ketamine 2.0-3.0 mg/kg, IM; for invasive procedures, butorphanol or buprenorphine (see dosages above) can be added. This drug combination usually takes 10-15 minutes before the animal can be handled without arousal and provides approximately 40 minutes of good sedation. If a longer time is needed, supplementation with isoflurane is recommended. Atipamezole can be used to reverse the medetomidine. The dose of atipamezole (0.20-0.25 mg/kg is five times the concentration of the medetomidine that was given. The atipamezole should be given IM and not administered until at least 30-40 minutes post-injection of the ketamine/medetomidine combination to allow for the ketamine to be metabolized and prevent a rough recovery.


Medetomidine in conjunction with ketamine initially cause an increase in blood pressure due to peripheral vasoconstriction. This can make it difficult to collect adequate blood samples from veins in the front and hind limbs. The jugular vein is the recommended site for blood collection. A drop of blood pressure may occur from a compensatory bradycardia in response to the peripheral vasoconstriction. Administering atipamezole IM can reverse this.

VACCINE RECOMMENDATIONS (Vaccine reactions, new vaccines to be considered):


Killed rabies virus vaccine annually

Killed virus vaccine for feline panleukopenia, calici, and feline herpesvirus, as well as Chlamydia annually. The feline combo vaccines containing modified live virus vaccine for herpes and calici commonly have been used in domestic cats and some exotic felids without a problem. But these could cause disease outbreaks, especially but not only in immune-compromised cats.

Several juvenile Pallas’ cats developed clinical disease after modified live herpesvirus vaccine was used.


CONTRACEPTION (Methods used, successes, failures):


Due to small population size and high neonatal mortality with need for increased breeding activity, contraception is not needed in the Pallas’ cat population of the US.




Herpes infection of semen in Pallas’ cats (Cincinnati Zoo)


Onset of puberty and reproductive function in Pallas’ cats (Cincinnati Zoo)


Genetic rescue of founder genes from herpes-infected Pallas’ cats (NCSU)


Nutritional requirements of Pallas’ cats at all life stages (NCSU/Cincinnati Zoo/Mongolia)


Safety and effectiveness of diclazuril for preventing toxoplasmosis in Pallas’ cats (Cincinnati Zoo)


Pallas’ cat: a model species for reproductive senescence in non-domestic felids (NCSU)




Standard felid diets (vitamin/mineral supplemented, raw horse meat) may be fed with occasional supplementation with whole prey (mice, chicks) but because of concerns about toxoplasmosis in this species, a certified Toxoplasma-free diet should be used and access to any wild prey in exhibits should be prevented.  High quality commercial cat foods may be used as an alternative to traditional raw meat based diets. Ongoing research is assessing adequacy for meeting nutritional needs at all of life’s stages. 


Dry food, if the cats will eat it, is preferred over canned food to reduce risk of dental problems. Dry cat food is best introduced at weaning time to reduce problems with acceptance of a newly introduced diet. Annual teeth cleaning is highly recommended.


For enrichment items or items used as treats in training sessions like fresh fish (live or dead), chicks (fresh or frozen) canned fish (tuna), canned meat, chewables of pig ears or rawhide can be offered.




Due to the high susceptibility to toxoplasmosis, it is recommended to screen Pallas’ cats twice a year for their toxo titer, preferably in December at the beginning of the breeding season (December-March) and in May-July to include the offspring in the screening process.

If breeding females have a positive toxo titer, they may be given prophylactic treatment with diclazuril (1 mg/kg PO 1-2/week) throughout the breeding season. Prophylactic treatment of the offspring post partum for 8 weeks with diclazuril at 1 mg/kg PO 1-2/week also should be considered.




A survey was sent to 19 zoos regarding husbandry, nutrition, pest control, veterinary care protocol, breeding management of Pallas’ cat collection. 12 responses have been received.

Based on the survey, scientific findings during research projects and the health status of the current Pallas’ cat population, a draft of a husbandry manual was developed and is currently under review by the Pallas’ cat SSP steering committee and the SSP advisors.




Research is ongoing in Mongolia with wild Pallas’ cats, coordinated by Dr. Meredith Brown.  Current studies are using radio-collaring to assess range sizes of wild Pallas’ cats and investigating the impact of broad-based rodenticide application on population densities of Pallas’ cats and their prey. 




Brown M, MR Lappin, JL Brown, B Munkhtsog, and WF Swanson.  2005.  Exploring the ecological basis for extreme susceptibility of Pallas' cats (Otocolobus manul) to fatal toxoplasmosis.  J. Wildl. Disease 41:691-700. 


Swanson WF, DJ Maggs, HE Clarke, AE Newell, JB Bond, HL Bateman and S Kennedy-Stoskopf.  2005.  Assessment of viral presence in semen and reproductive function of frozen-thawed spermatozoa from Pallas' cats (Otocolobus manul) infected with feline herpesvirus.  Proc. Amer. Assoc. Zoo Vet.  pp. 234-235.


Ketz-Riley CJ, MV Richard, RA VanDen Bussche, JP Hoover, J Meinkoth, and AA Kocan. 2003. An intraerythrocytic small piroplasm in wild-caught Pallas’ cats (Otocolobus manul) from Mongolia. J Wildl Dis 39 (2): 424-430.


Ketz-Riley CJ, JW Ritchey, JP Hoover, CM Johnson, MT Barrie. 2003. Immunodeficiency associated with multiple concurrent infections in captive Pallas’ cats (Otocolobus manul). J Zoo Wildl Med 34 (3): 239-245.


Newell AE, S Kennedy-Stoskopf, J Levine, JL Brown, and WF Swanson.  2003.  Analysis of testosterone and cortisol fecal metabolites in male Pallas’ cats (Otocolobus manul) housed under artificial lighting conditions.  Proc. Amer. Assoc. Zoo Vet  pp. 294-295.


Brown JL, LH Graham, J Wu, D Collins and WF Swanson.  2002.  Reproductive endocrine responses to photoperiod and exogenous gonadotropins in the Pallas' cat (Otocolobus manul).  Zoo Biol. 21:347-364.


Brown M, MR Lappin, JL Brown, B Munkhtsog and WF Swanson.  2002.  Exploring the ecological basis for extreme susceptibility of Pallas' cats (Otocolobus manul) to fatal toxoplasmosis: comparison of wild and captive populations.  Proc. Amer. Assoc. Zoo Vet  pp. 12-15.


Kenny DE, MR Lappin, F Knightly, J Baier, M Brewer and DM Getzy. 2002. Toxoplasmosis in Pallas’ cats (Otocolobus felis manul) at the Denver Zoological Gardens. J Zoo Wildl Med 33 (2): 131-138.


Swanson WF and S Kennedy-Stoskopf.  2002.  Reproductive seasonality of male Pallas' cats (Otocolobus manul) maintained under artificial lighting with simulated natural photoperiods.  Biol Reprod 66:260.


Swanson WF, J Bond and M Bush.  2001.  Assessment of diclazuril toxicity in neonatal domestic cats (Felis catus) and initial application for prevention and treatment of toxoplasmosis in neonatal Pallas' cats (Otocolobus manul).  Proc. Amer. Assoc. Zoo Vet.  pp. 390-391.


Swanson WF.  1999.  Toxoplasmosis and neonatal mortality in Pallas' cats: a survey of North American zoological institutions.  Proc. Amer. Assoc. Zoo Vet.  pp. 347-350.


Swanson WF, JL Brown and DE Wildt.  1996.  Influence of seasonality on reproductive traits in the male Pallas' cat (Felis manul) and implications for captive management.  J. Zoo Wildl. Med. 27:234-240.


581705 White Oak Road
Yulee, FL 32097 USA

Contact Us

Local: (904) 225-3275
Fax: (904) 225-3289

Connect With Us