Feline 411: All About Manx Cats

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Many of us our familiar with the Manx cat breed, but there are a lot more interesting facts to this cat aside from the shortened tail. According to the Cat Fanciers’ Association, the Manx cat breed is “an ancient breed that originated on the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. The Manx taillessness is caused by a mutation that probably originated among the island’s native shorthair cat population. Because it is a dominant gene, spread to the other cats on the island.”

An Original Show Cat, Me-ow!

The Manx cat breed were reportedly one of the very first cats to be shown in the cat show circuit, which premiered in the 19th century. The Manx is a hearty cat breed, with strong, sturdy bodies and they usually live long, healthy lives with limited health conditions. Although most Manx cats live purrfectly healthy lives, the same mutation that controls taillessness in these cats can also affect a Manx cat’s spine. Because of this, it can lead to severe disease consequences because of its effects on the development of the spine and spinal cord. “Manx Syndrome” and spina bifida are two conditions commonly seen when the spine and spinal cord is affected.

Balancing Cat Breed: Although cats use their tails for balance, the Manx cat adapts thanks to their magnificent genetic makeup. It has been hypothesized by experts that the Manx possesses an especially sensitive vestibular apparatus to compensate for their lack of tail.

There Are Different Variations of The Manx Cat Breed

Often when we think of a Manx cat, the shortened or “rumpy” tail comes to mind. While these cats usually have short, stump-like tails, there are technically several variations in tail style for the breed: Rumpie, Riser, Stumpie, Stubbie, and Longie.

Although the tail names kinda sound like the names of gnomes, here is the actual breakdown of their classifications:

Rumpie: Where a cat has no tail at all but might have a little tuft of fur in place where a tail would normally be.

Riser: Where there is a bump of cartilage under the fur, though no really noticeable tail.

Stumpie: Where there is only a little stump that reaches a maximum of 1″ in length.

Stubbie: Where there is a shorter-than-average tail of fused bones, up to about half the length of a regular tail. 

Longie: Where a cat has a half- to almost normal-length tails.

Manx Cat Fact: The Manx is both long-haired and short-haired, although the shorthaired version is much more common.

Dog-Like Cats

The Manx cat has a calm and chill personality, much more like that of a canine. Similar to the laid-back personality of the marvelous Maine Coon, the Manx cat breed makes for a great family pet. They do well in homes with children of all ages, and they are often reported to stay close by their owners’ side or in the general vicinity when in their presence. These are cats that love their people and show it by staying nearby.

Celebrity Manx cat fact: Stimpy of The Ren & Stimpy Show is a Manx cat.

Island Cats

Now, we’re not referring to the Rastafarian island cats with bongos and beads, but the Isle of Man is where this ancient cat breed gets its name. This island lies in the Irish Sea, nestled in between England and Ireland.

The Isle of Man, present day

There are a few stories surrounding this tailless cat breed and how they came to be:

According to one story, the cat was traveling with the Spanish Armada when it was wrecked on the Isle of Man in 1588. The cats swam to the island and made it their home. Another story is that they were brought to the Isle by Phoenician traders, who arrived from Japan. Others claim that the cat was introduced to the island by Viking settlers who colonized it.

Inhabitants of the isle also have many fanciful tales to account for its lack of tail. It is most often attributed to a spontaneous genetic mutation that occurred many centuries ago. According to one story, the Manx was a result of a cross between a cat and a rabbit. Another imaginative tale narrates how Irish invaders stole the cat’s tail to make plumes for their helmets. Yet another interesting story suggests that the Manx was brought to Noah’s Ark but since time was short and as they were the last passengers to climb aboard, Noah slammed the door on their tails.

According to early American registry records, the first Manx cats were imported from the Isle of Man over a century ago, but as demand for the breed grew, breeders began to rely on Britain and France for new imports. 

Adorable Manx cat breed fact: Many Manx cat owners report that their cat has a rabbit-like gait, making it seem as if they hop rather than walk as an ordinary cat would. SO. ADORABLE.

manx cat

Cats of Legend

There aren’t only speculations surrounding how this cat came to existence. There are a few speculations on how they got their tails specifically. Obviously these legends of Manx folklore came before man was aware of genetic mutations and their effects on the body. But they make for good stories to say the least! Here are the two most popular Manx cat tail legends:

People once said that the Manx was running late for Noah’s Ark. When Noah slammed the door, he severed its tail. Others theorized that Manxes were “cabbits”—the hybrid offspring of a cat and a rabbit. This was due to their long back legs, short tail, and rounded rump.

Image Courtesy of VetStreet.com

Manx Cat breed tail fact: all Manx have at least one gene for a full tail. Therefore, even two cats carrying the Manx (tailless) gene can produce a full-tailed kitten.

The Manx is undoubtedly playful, loving, loyal and truly dedicated to the people they see as theirs. Do you have a Manx cat in your life? Share with us in the comments section!


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