The Mysterious Manx Cat: A Tailless Feline Friend!

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orange minx cat with cat toy Manx cat lovers will happily tell you of this breed’s prowess as a hunter, its unusual love of water, its friendly nature, and many other things that make it a wonderful pet.

But perhaps the trait that the Manx breed of cat is most known for is its lack of a tail! Read on to learn all about this unique breed.

Meet the Cute Tailless Cat: The Loving Manx!

The Manx cat is an old and respected breed of domestic cats that have been competing in cat shows for hundreds of years, as well as working in farms and on ships, and living as a beloved pet.

Known for their short, bobbed tails—or sometimes, their complete absence of tails—these cats make sociable, loving companions that are bound to begin lots of conversations with curious cat-lovers!

But, First! Where did Manx Cats come from?

The Manx cat breed hails from the Isle of Man, an island located in the Irish Sea between Ireland and Great Britain. The Isle of Man is a self-governing British Crown Dependency that has maintained a certain independence of spirit, as well as its own language and folklore. The Manx cat (Manx meaning “from the Isle of Man”) is an important symbol of the island, and images of Manx cats appear on coins and stamps.

The origins of the Manx cat are shrouded in Manx folklore, with many stories that range from the believable to the downright far-fetched. Most of these myths focus on the cats’ short tails.

One, for example, tells how the Manx cat was late to board the Ark, and Noah, in slamming the doors shut against the rain, cut the cat’s tail clean off. Another tells how the cats swam from a Spanish Galleon wrecked off the coast of the island during the time of the Spanish Armada.

Although the reasons for the Manx cat’s short tail are now understood to be a genetic mutation, the myths surrounding these cats remain an important part of the island’s folklore.

Manx Cats have long been shown in cat shows, first in the United Kingdom and then around the world. When the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) was founded in the USA in 1908, the Manx Cat was one of the first cat breeds recognized by the body. 

A Minx Cat?  Here are 5 Facts You Need to Know About this Breed

  1. The Manx cat is not the only tailless cat in the world! Europe has a few other populations of tailless cats, including Cornwall in southern England, the Reersø peninsula in Denmark, and the Crimean peninsula on the Black Sea. These cat populations may be related to seafaring Manx cats, or they might have developed independently like other tailless breeds from further afield: the Kuril Islands Bobtail, the Karelian Bobtail, the Japanese Bobtail, the Indonesian Lombok cats, and the  American Bobtail.
  2. Koko, the captive gorilla who was famous for communicating in rudimentary American Sign Language, had three Manx cats that acted as companion animals. Their names were All Ball, Lipstick, and Smokey.
  3. Manx cats were once thought to be a cross between a rabbit and a cat, due to their bobbed tails and long hind legs. This was later proved to be biologically impossible!
  4. The Isle of Man has its own ancient language, known as Manx Gaelic. Although the language nearly died out in the 1970s, it is now being revived on the island. Why not choose a traditional Manx name for your new Manx kitten, like Aleyn, Illiam or Kerran for males, or Aalish, Calybrid or Malane for females.
  5. Although it is commonly believed that cats need a tail for balance, this is actually untrue, as balance in cats is mostly controlled by the inner ear. Luckily, this means that the Manx cat and other tailless breeds do not typically exhibit balance problems.

grey manx cats no tail behind on ground

A Cream Colored Cat? The Appearance of the Manx Kittens

The Manx is a medium to large cat, with an average weight of 9 to 13 lb (4 to 5.9 kg) for males and 7 to 11 lb (3 to 5 kg) for females. In addition to the characteristic bobbed tail, the breed has a number of other recognizable features, including a rounded head and elongated hind legs.

Although the Manx cat is described as tailless, there are actually a number of possible tail lengths that these cats can be born with. Even within a single litter of kittens, tail length can vary. The tail classifications for Manx cats are as follows:

  • Rumpy: no tail at all
  • Riser or Rumpy Riser: no tail, but a bump of cartilage under the skin that shows especially when the cat is happy or excited
  • Stumpy: a small tail of fused vertebrae, up to 1 inch in length
  • Stubby: a tail of non-fused vertebrae, up to half the length of normal cats’ tails
  • Longy or Tailed: a half-length to normal length tail.

In most cat shows, stubby and tailed Manx cats are not permitted, and can only be shown in the “Any Other Breeds” category. Unscrupulous breeders in the past have attempted to pass regular cats off as Manx cats by docking their tails—however, thanks to the many other defining characteristics of this breed, they were usually found out quickly!

The Manx cat can have a coat of any color or pattern, though pure-white Manx cats are very rare. Longhair Manx cats are sometimes classified as a distinct breed from their shorthair cousins, called the Cymric, from the word Cymru, or Wales.

The CFA classes the Cymric as a mere breed variant, however. Show Manx cats are judged according to breed standards for their particular coloring, as well as by the Manx cat standard. Cymric Manx cats have a thick, silky double coat that requires considerable grooming. 

The breed’s stance is lean and muscular, with a broad chest and sloping shoulders. These cats should not be fatty or bulky. The hind legs are noticeably longer than the straight, strong front legs, meaning that the rump is higher than the shoulders and giving a humped appearance. The Manx cat is said to have a rabbit-like, hopping gait.

Manx Cat Patronus: These Kitties are Truly Magical!

In the Harry Potter universe, people whose patronus (a guardian spell whose animal form reflects the caster’s personality) takes the form of a Manx cat are said to be cool under pressure, remaining calm in difficult situations.

Whether this is accurate we may never know, but it is true that these tailless cats have made popular ships cats through the ages, not just for their hunting abilities, but also for their love of water!

black manx kittens face of terror

Considered the Smartest Cat Breed: The Manx Cat Personality is Sure to Make You Fall in Love!

Although cats are notoriously unpredictable—and after all, isn’t that what we all love about them—most Manx owners describe their cats as a confident, sociable pet that enjoys being around humans.

Some have been known to be wary of strangers, warming to people gradually but then showing great affection. These playful cats have even been called dog-like for their loyalty and for their ability to play fetch and obey commands!

Almost all Manx cats are enthusiastic hunters—much to the consternation of owners who are forever clearing up little “presents” from their pets. Manx cats have long been used as working cats to control vermin like mice and rats on farms and aboard ships.

Are these Stumpy Nubs a Healthy Breed?

All cat breeds have associated illnesses and conditions that they are more susceptible to, and unfortunately, the Manx Cat is no exception. Two such conditions are rump fold intertrigo, a nasty skin disease that forms in folds of skin, and corneal dystrophy, an inherited condition where material accumulates in the cornea of the eye, affecting the vision.

Manx cats that have a slightly longer tail have been known to develop painful arthritis in their tails due to the tail vertebrae not forming properly.

Some Manx breeders will dock kittens’ tails at a young age to prevent this from happening, though docking is outlawed in many countries and all of Europe.

Perhaps the most unpleasant, and most common condition for Manx cats, though, is the one named for the breed: Manx Syndrome.

What is Manx Syndrome?

Taillessness in Manx cats is caused by a dominant gene, which shortens the spine (the tail being an extension of the spine.) Two Manx parents with short tails will almost always produce a kitten with no tail at all.

Having two copies of the gene is generally lethal, meaning that kittens with two copies will usually die before they are born. Surviving tailless or rumpy Manx cats will only carry one copy of the gene. For this reason, responsible breeders will never breed two completely tailless Manx cats together.

A fully-tailed Manx cat will not carry the gene at all.

However, the same gene can also cause spinal defects. When the gene shortens the cat’s spine too much, this causes a condition called Manx Syndrome, a type of spina bifida.

Manx Syndrome seriously damages the nerves, spinal cord, bowels, digestion, and bladder. The disease is often difficult to diagnose, though very small bladders can be one sign, and it can cause sudden death in affected cats.

Manx Syndrome is most likely to affect Manx cats that are completely tailless, and according to genetic studies, 30% of cats of this breed are affected. Thanks to careful breeding and genetic testing, however, instances of the syndrome are believed to be going down.

So, How Long do these Kitties Live for?

The average Manx cat lifespan is usually 8 to 14 years for a healthy cat. Manx kittens affected by Manx Syndrome will usually only live 3 to 4 years.  

Ready to Get One? Manx Cat for Sale

If you’ve decided that an adorable Manx kitten is your perfect pet—or even emotional support animal—for you, then read on!

Before buying any cat, it’s important to consider whether you’re ready for the commitment, and expense, of owning a pet.

Cats of every breed need feeding (and many can be fussy eaters!), litter trays, vaccinations, veterinary care, toys, and more—and Manx cats are no different.

Manx Kittens for Sale

If you’re looking to buy a Manx kitten, the CFA keep an up-to-date registry of responsible breeders, which can be a great place to start your search.

Most breeders will send kittens to their new owners at around four months old, by which time they will have been socialized, vaccinated, and checked for hereditary conditions.

Alternatively, if your heart is set on an adult Manx cat, why not try a breed-specific rescue, such as Tailless Cat Rescue!

Not only do rescue centers have lots of loving adult cats looking for good homes, but they also are a wealthy mine of advice and help.

Manx Cat Price

Expect to pay around $400 to $600 for a purebred Manx kitten from a reputable breeder. Kittens with rarer color combinations, such as pure white, may cost much more, even thousands of dollars.

At CertaPet, our message is to always say no to kitten and puppy farms. Not only are the poor animals raised in inhumane conditions, but they are also much more likely to develop hereditary illnesses due to irresponsible breeding.

With a breed that has so many associated hereditary health problems like the Manx cat, it’s definitely not worth taking the risk!

A Cat with No Tail that’s Sure to Make You a Crazy Cat Person!

The Manx cat is certainly a unique breed, and very distinctive to look at! Manx owners may find themselves constantly answering questions about why their pet lacks a tail—was it docked?

Cut off in an accident? Stolen by a fairy prince? But these questions will be worth it for a loving, playful, loyal cat with a very noble heritage.

Common Questions on the Manx Cat

  1. Where does the Manx Cat breed originate?

  2. Why doesn’t the Manx Cat have a tail?

  3. What is Manx Syndrome?

  4. How long do Manx Cats live?

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