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18 Reasons The Sand Cat Is Your New Favorite Animal

You might have gone through life thinking you're a dog person... but this adorable creature might just have you reThinking that you're a sand cat person.

1. Oh hey! This is the sand cat. He didn't see you there...

2. ...but he's really excited to meet you!

3. In preparation for your visit, he got all cleaned up.

Charles Barilleaux (CC BY 2.0) / Flickr: bontempscharly
Charles Barilleaux (CC BY http://2.0) / Flickr: bontempscharly

4. And made sure to get plenty of rest.

Christophe Lehenaff / Getty Images

5. Usually you'd find him sunbathing in the desert (the sand cat's the only feline that lives in a true desert), but today he's here with you!

Christophe Lehenaff / Getty Images

6. The sand cat's just like a regular cat... but with bigger ears and a broader head. Kind of like if a cat had its caricature drawn.

Tambako The Jaguar (CC BY-ND 2.0) / Flickr: tambako

7. They also have these funky black rings on their fur that kind of make it look like they're wearing a football jersey.

8. Their ears might make them seem tall, but sand cats are less then three feet long and only weigh between four and eight pounds.

9. In 2002, the IUCN listed the sand cat population as "Near Threatened."

Mark Dumont (CC BY http://2.0) / Flickr: wcdumonts

10. As a result, the Ramat Gan Safari in Tel Aviv, Israel built a sand cat sanctuary as a part of the European Endangered Species Program.

TOM MCHUGH / Getty Images

11. Because of their sparse population, the sand cat has adapted a loud mating call that resembles a small dog barking.

Yinghai (CC BY 2.0) / Flickr: yinghai83

12. Even so, sand cat litters only produce an average of three itty-bitty sand cats, making it even harder for their numbers to grow.

Nicki (CC BY-ND 2.0) / Flickr: growlroar
Charles Barilleaux (CC BY http://2.0) / Flickr: bontempscharly

13. A small step forward in the right direction, the Ramat Gan sanctuary welcomed its first sand cat litter in 2012! Three. Baby. Sand cats!

14. There were concerns that Rotem, the mama cat, wouldn't be able to care for all three of her miracle babies...

Charles Barilleaux (CC BY http://2.0) / Flickr: bontempscharly

15. ...but like any mother would, Rotem made sure she had full control off her little ones' upbringing.

16. At only three weeks old, the curious sand kittens emerged from their burrow and started to explore the sanctuary.

17. Three weeks was sooner than anyone expected! Since then, Rotem has been telling every visitor who'll listen that her babies are "gifted."*

Tanya Durrant (CC BY-ND http://2.0) / Flickr: tanyadurrant

*OK, so that part is obviously made up. But like... she would totally do it if she could.

18. Watch Rotem's first kitten make his debut at the Ramat Gan Safari below!

View this video on YouTube

Nice meeting you!

Mark Dumont (CC BY http://2.0) / Flickr: wcdumonts