The Manx is a
of cat with a
mutation of the spine. This mutation shortens the tail, resulting in a range of
tail lengths from normal to tailless. The hind legs are longer than the front
legs, creating a continuous arch from shoulders to rump giving the cat a rounded
appearance. Manx cats move with more like a hop than a stride when running; in
this aspect, they resemble rabbits more than cats. Many Manx have a small 'stub'
of a tail, but Manx cats are best known as being entirely tailless: it is the
distinguishing characteristic of the breed.
The Manx breed
originated on the
Isle of Man, hence their name. It is called kayt Manninagh in Manx Gaelic. They
are an old breed, and tailless cats were common on the island as long as two or
three hundred years ago. It is unknown exactly how the mutation originated, but
one legend states that it was the result of cats surviving a shipwreck centuries
ago. Legends even claim that Noah caused the breed to be tailless by closing the
door to the ark as the Manx was entering, cutting off the tail. Other legends
allege that cats and rabbits mated, and their offspring became the Manx cat; the
reasoning behind this is the fact that Manx usually do not have tails, and have
longer hind legs, which gives them a similar appearance to rabbits, especially
when running. This was further reinforced by the Cabbit myth.
The most probable
explanation of this breed's existence is that once the dominant mutant tailless
gene was introduced to the island, it became common and concentrated in the
genetically isolated population. This resulted in the "normal" cat on the island
having a short or nonexistent tail.
It is possible that excessive
inbreeding can result in short tails, however, the Manx breed has its shortened
tail due to a mutation in the tailless gene, which is dominant and inheritable
regardless of the inbreeding coefficient of a particular cat. This gene, like
many others, also occurs in the domestic cat population and in fact was probably
transferred from the Isle of Man to it. For a cat to be considered a Manx,
registering bodies (CFA, TICA, GCCF etc..) require
that the cat show ancestry from the Isle of Man in an unbroken line of
succession. Many of the distinguishing characteristics of cat breeds occur
naturally sometimes in the domestic population. As much as cat resembles a
they are considered domestic cats unless the ancestry has been tracked through a
This is the same in pedigreed dogs. Thus a random bred cat lacking a tail is a
domestic tailless, but not a Manx.
A week old female Manx
notice of the stumpy tail.
The Manx tailless gene is dominant and highly
penetrant; kittens from Manx parents are generally born without any tail. There
is no proven ratio of the amount of tailed to tailless kittens produced in each
litter. However, tailed Manx bred to tailed Manx normally results in all
tailed kittens, even though there are exceptions.
Manx kittens are classified according to
Dimple rumpy or rumpy - no tail whatsoever
Riser or rumpy riser - stub of
cartilage or several vertebrae
under the fur, most noticeable when kitten is happy and raising its 'tail'
Stumpy - partial tail, more than a 'riser' but less than 'tailed'
Tailed or longy - complete or near complete tail
Breeders have reported all tail lengths within the same litter.
show Manx is the rumpy. The stumpy and tailed Manx do not qualify to be
shown. Depending on the presence of the mutant gene, their kittens may or may
not be tailed. In the past, kittens with stumpy or full tails have been docked
at birth as a preventative measure due to some partial tails being very prone to
a form of arthritis that causes the cat severe pain. However, tailed Manx cats
have been born for hundreds of years on the Isle of Man with no known documented
problems. Most countries today have banned alteration of animals for cosmetic
appearances. Some United States breeders still practice the docking Manx kittens
tails as a rule. This practice is declining as other Manx breeders educate
people that this breed can have a partial to full tail with no ill effects, and
yet still be a Manx cat. Docking tails on cats is not exclusively performed on
the Manx breed; it can be performed on any cat breed for medical
The mutation that causes a Manx cat to be born without a tail does not occur
in every Manx kitten — not all Manx cats lack a tail. However, since they carry
Manx genetics, their kittens or descendants can be born without a tail even if
their parents had tails. Some stumpy Manx are born with kinked tails because of
incomplete development of the tail during the
fetal stage. This
is somewhat rare though, as other tail lengths (or lack thereof), as well as
straight-tailed stumpy tails are much more common.
Another rumpy or possibly rumpy-riser Manx
Pedigreed Manx cats today are much healthier and have fewer
health issues related to their genetics than the Manx of years ago. This is due
in part to the careful selection of breeding stock, and knowledgeable, dedicated
breeders. Manx have been known to live into their mid- to high-teens and are no
less healthy than other cat breeds. Like any other cat, keeping Manx cats
indoors, neutering or spaying, and providing acceptable surfaces for the cat's
normal scratching behavior
are vital to lengthen the life of any cat.
Manx Syndrome is a
colloquial name given to the condition which results when the mutant tailless
gene responsible for shortening the cats' spine has an excessive negative
effect. It can seriously damage the spinal cord and the nerves. The cat can have
problems with spina bifida, bowels, bladder, and digestion
as a result. Actual occurrences of this are rare in modern examples of the breed
due to informed breeding practices.
 Most pedigreed cats are not placed until four months of age to make sure
that proper socialisation has occurred. This gives adequate time for any mutant
gene-related health issues to be seen, as they turn up early in the cat's life.
According to Robinson's Genetics for Cat Breeders and Veterinarians,
both the Manx tailless gene and the
Scottish Fold fold-eared gene are potential lethal genes in utero if extreme
tailless to tailless are mated or if extreme fold-eared to fold-eared are mated.
Problems are most likely to occur when two completely tailless Manx are bred
together. For this reason, responsible breeders generally breed a 'stumpy' or
fully-tailed Manx with a 'rumpy' or 'rumpy riser' to minimise the chances of
serious defects. This breeding practice is responsible for the decreasing
occurrence of spinal problems in recent years.
A stumpy white female Manx kitten. Take notice of the long hind legs.
The Manx breed is a highly intelligent
it is playful, and in its behaviour, very reminiscent of dogs; for example, some
Manx cats will fetch small objects that are thrown. It is considered a social
feline, and the breed loves humans. This attribute makes them an ideal breed for
families with young children. Some members of this breed tend to like water,
many times even playing with it. This trait makes it very easy to give some Manx
cats a shower for hygiene purposes, unlike most other cats. Although not as
trainable as dogs, Manx cats can learn simple commands, such as No.
Other cat breeds that share similar personality traits are
and Ocicat. If
there are multiple Manx cats in a household, an owner might notice that they
chase each other frequently. This is common behaviour for Manx cats; they like
to chase each other. However, Manx cats usually are very quiet cats, so this is
typically their only
One issue that Manx owners may have to deal with is that a completely
tailless cat may display problems with bathroom hygiene. Many cats use their
tail as an aid for releasing
Feces. Since the
rumpy variants do not have a tail, fecal matter may stick to their fur in the
anal area, resulting in the Manx using whatever it can (carpets, the litter box,
furniture, et cetera.) to assist in removal. This is not done out of spite, nor
is it observed in every rumpy Manx. Such behaviour may be difficult to
extinguish in a cat that has this issue.
Manx cats exhibit two
coat lengths. The short-haired Manx has a double coat with a thick, short
under-layer and a longer, coarse outer-layer with guard hairs. The long-haired Manx, known to some cat registries as the
has a silky-textured double coat of medium length, with britches, belly and neck
ruff, tufts of fur between the toes and full ear furnishings.
The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) considers the Cymric to be a variety of
Manx. It is referred to as a long-haired Manx, but is shown in the short-hair
division with short-haired cats even though its hair is longer. The
International Cat Association (TICA) recognises the long haired Manx as
a Cymric; the same in all respects as the Manx, except that the Cymric has a
longer coat. TICA judges the Cymric with other long-haired cats in the long-hair
division. Short- or long-haired, all Manx have a thick double-layered coat.
The Manx breed, in spite of the absence of tail, has no problems with
The Isle of Man has adopted the Manx as a symbol of its native origins.
On the Isle of Man, Manx cats appear on currency, coins and stamps.
Even though Manx cats cease to be kittens after one year, it takes up to
five years for any Manx cat to be fully grown.
The Manx was developed before the
1700s, and since the breed is of medium size, the weight is on average 5.5
kg (12 lb).