One of the original show cats, the Manx cat breed is known for its unique tail (or rather, lack of tail). Breeding of the Manx cat breed began long before the official Cat Fancy shows began. They are a beloved symbol on the Isle of Man and have even been featured postage stamps! King Edward VIII of Great Britain was a lover of Manx cats. You might just fall in love with them too!
Title Photo Credit: Stanton McCandlish via Flickr
The Manx Look
A Manx cat is very round in appearance. They have round faces with wide cheeks and rounded eyes and ears. Their hind legs are powerful and allow them to jump very well. They are also longer than their front legs causing their rear end to stick up higher than their shoulders. Fur could be long or short but always has 2 coats. Sometimes the long hair Manx cats are considered a separate breed called Cymric.
Manx cats are not always tailless, in fact, there are 4 different lengths of tail:
- Rumpy – No tail at all. The tail vertebrae are entirely missing. There may even be a dimple where the tail should be.
- Rumpy Riser – A very short stump of a tail that rises slightly. This could be formed of cartilage or 1 – 3 vertebrae.
- Stumpy – A slightly longer stump of a tail that may be curved or kinked.
- Longy – Almost a normal length to a normal length tail.
Only Rumpys and Rumpy Risers are used as show cats, but Stumpys and Longys are also valuable. It takes all tail lengths to keep this breed healthy and strong.
Did You Know?
While Manx cats are known for short tails (or no tails), they are not the only cat breeds to have short tails. Two other cat breeds with unique tails are the Japanese Bobtail cat breed and the American Bobtail cat breed.
The Legendary Manx Cat Breed
The Manx cat breed has a very interesting history, however, no one is quite certain what that history is. What does seem to be certain is that the breed originated on the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. The Isle of Man is also called Manx and that is how the Manx cat got its name. In the language of Manx, these cats are also referred to as “Stubbin” and “Kayt Mannignah.”
A Scientific Explanation
Scientists believe that, since cats are not actually native to the Isle of Man, these cats were probably brought there by explorers or settlers centuries ago. Who were these settlers? Popular scientifically-based theories include:
- The cats were brought to the Isle of Man by Vikings that settled there.
- Phoenician traders brought them back from Japan with them.
- Cats were aboard one of the ships in the Spanish Armada when the ship went down and the sea savvy cats swam to the Isle of Man.
Tales of the Tailless
According to scientists, the original cats probably had a normal cat tail, but somewhere along the way, a spontaneous genetic mutation occurred that created the tailless variety of Manx. However, the locals have some much more entertaining legends of how the Manx cat breed got its signature look:
- A Manx cat was the last animal loaded aboard Noah’s Ark. After nearly missing their ride, Noah slammed the door to the ark, cutting off the Manx’s tail.
- The Manx cat breed is really the product of the mating of a cat and a rabbit; Thus the small or non-existent tail.
- Invaders came onto the Isle of Man and took the cat’s tails for the plumes in their hats.
- There were people who considered the Manx’s tail so lucky that they would steal baby Manx kittens. To protect her young from being stolen from her, the Manx mothers began chewing off their babies’ tails.
Health & The Trouble With Tiny Tails
For the most part, the Manx cat breed is very healthy. The only breed related health problem is the potential for Manx Syndrome. Manx Syndrome is a heredity malformation in the cat’s spine caused by the Manx gene (an incomplete dominant gene). Some of the effects of Manx Syndrome are Spinal Bifida, fused vertebrae, and colon problems. Healthy Manx cats will carry at least one copy of a gene for a normal length tail and, therefore, may have a normal length tail.
If a cat receives a copy of the Manx gene, the length of the cat’s tail could be anywhere from a normal length tail to no tail at all. Cats with 1 Manx gene can be perfectly healthy cats. Generally speaking, cats that receive 2 copies of the Manx gene will die in utero or within 4 months after birth. Careful breeding can keep occurrences of Manx Syndrome to a minimum.
The Marvelous Manx
Overall, Manx cats are great cats to have in your home. They are great with children and other pets. These cats are fun-loving, intelligent, protective, loyal to family, and great hunters. Some even consider them to be dog-like because they are easy to train and love to play fetch.
The Manx cat breed is slightly less common than other breeds, but they are still easy to find. If you would consider adopting a Manx cat into your family, please check Petfinder or your local animal rescues.