Length: 1.8 meters nose to tail
Height: 69cm at shoulder
Weight: 91 kilograms
Color: White with mottled grey markings
Habitat: Orrat Mountains, Region Dagr
Defenses: 7cm retractable claws; 20cm saber-like canines
Abilities: complex communication, problem-solving abilities
Named for the mountains they call home, needlecats are one of the more formidable Thelian species encountered by human settlers on the planet. An apex predator, they are large and aggressive. Needlecats have been blamed for a number of disappearances in the Orrat Mountains, and the avoidance of needlecat prides is a key factor in determining the location of new settlements.
Needlecat appearance is similar to that of a large, shaggy, terrestrial snow leopard. A thick white undercoat insulates the cat from the wind and cold of the mountains, while a mottled grey outer coat provides camouflage while hunting. Their most prominent physical features are 20cm long, saber-like canine teeth and their long, thick tails. Needlecats have 5cm long non-retracting claws on their rear paws and 7cm long retractable claws on their front paws.
Needlecats live in pride-like groups of 10 – 15 cats with a fairly even split between males and females. The pride divides into smaller hunting parties of 3 or 4 cats, and multiple hunting parties will search for food at the same time. They are patient and tenacious hunters and have been known to wait out trapped prey for over 30 hours.
Needlecats are one of the more intelligent Thelian species encountered thus far. Their hunting parties are highly-coordinated teams with a defined leader. Hunting parties have been observed changing their hunt tactics on the move, and the leaders have displayed problem-solving abilities. Needlecats also appear to have a complex system of communication, with hunt leaders using patterns of growls, roars and purrs to issue orders.