Taillessness appears absolute in the perfect specimen. Because of the idiosyncrasies of the tailless gene, Cymrics do not breed true. Four distinctly different tail types are produced. The rumpy is highly prized; this tail type—or rather, lack thereof—is favored in the show ring. Entirely tailless, rumpies often have a dimple at the base of the spine where the tail would ordinarily begin. Rumpy-risers have a short knob of tail that consists of one to three vertebrae connected to the last bone of the spine. Risers can be shown if the vertical rise of the tail doesn’t stop the judge’s hand when the cat is stroked. Stumpies are usually pet quality; these cats have a short tail stump that is often curved, knotted, or kinked. Longies have tails almost as long as an ordinary cat’s. Most breeders dock the tails of longie kittens four to six days after birth. This makes it easier to find homes for these pet quality kittens, since few people are willing to adopt a Cymric with a tail. Also, breeders say the Manx gene can cause problems for longie adult cats 5 years of age and older. The tail may become ossified and arthritic, causing great pain.
It’s impossible to predict what tail types will appear in any given litter, even when breeding rumpy to rumpy. Since other genetic defects are more likely to occur when rumpies are bred together for three or more generations, experienced breeders include all four tail types in their breeding programs.
The Cymric is a solidly muscled, compact, medium to large cat with a sturdy bone structure. Adult males weigh 9 to 13 pounds; adult females weigh 7 to 11 pounds. The overall impression is of roundness; the round head with prominent cheeks and jowls enhances the round appearance. The eyes are large, round, and full. The ears are medium-sized, widely spaced, and wide at the base, tapering gradually to a rounded tip.
The only difference between the Cymric and the Manx is the length of their fur. The Cymric’s hair is medium-long, dense and well-padded over the main body, adding to the rounded appearance. The hair gradually lengthens from the shoulders to the rump, and the full breeches are thick to the hocks. The hair on the abdomen and neck ruff is usually longer than that on the main body. The cheeks have thick, full hair, and the ruff extends from the shoulders to the chest like a bib. Toes and ears have impressive tufts. Even though the coat is full and plush because of the dense undercoat, the hair is soft and silky and falls smoothly over the body. As with most longhairs, coat length changes with the seasons; the summer coat is shorter than the longer, heavier winter coat.
In CFA and most other associations, all colors and patterns are accepted except those showing hybridization resulting in the colors chocolate, lavender, the Himalayan pattern, or these combinations with white. However, in TICA, all colors and patterns are accepted. Eye color can be gold to copper, green, hazel, blue, or odd-eyed, depending upon the color and pattern of the coat.
Although the Cymric was officially accepted relatively recently, the breed has been around for hundreds of years, for as long as the Manx. The Cymric developed on the Isle of Man, a small island in the Irish Sea midway between England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales. The island has been inhabited since Neolithic times. Since the Isle has no indigenous wildcats from which the Cymric could develop, domestic cats must have been introduced by human settlers, traders, and explorers; who and when (and from where) is not known. Some believe the Isle of Man cats descended from British cats, which is possible given the Isle’s proximity to Britain. However, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, trading vessels from all over the world stopped at the Isle of Man’s ports. Since such ships commonly kept cats for their rodent-catching abilities, the Cymric and Manx ancestors could have easily come from somewhere else. Both longhaired and shorthaired cats were transported to the island, and both hair lengths developed there.
According to island records, taillessness began as a mutation among the island’s domestic cat population, although some believe the mutation occurred elsewhere and was later transported onto the island. We’ll never know for sure, though, since it happened hundreds of years ago. Given the Isle’s closed environment and small gene pool, the dominant gene that governs the Cymric’s taillessness easily passed from one generation to the next, as did the gene for long hair. Soon a thriving population of tailless cats of various types and hair lengths roamed the green hills and wooded glens of the Isle of Man, playing hide and squeak with the resident mice.
Unlike the taillessness gene, long hair is governed by a recessive gene, which means a cat must inherit the longhair gene from both parents to exhibit the trait. Because of this, longhaired kittens can and do appear in Manx litters. A recessive gene can be carried for generations without manifesting in the physical appearance.
Even though longhaired cats were on the Isle all along, it took many years before the Cymric was recognized as a breed in its own right by the cat associations. In North America, the Manx was recognized in the 1920s, but the Cymric wasn’t shown until the early 1960s and didn’t begin to gain popularity until the mid-1970s. In 1976, CCA was the first to accept the Cymric for championship status. In 1979, TICA accepted the Manx and the Cymric for championship; both breeds are part of the Manx Breed Group and share a standard, except for the sections describing the two hair lengths. Other associations soon followed, and today the Cymric enjoys championship status in all North American associations.
In 1994, the CFA dropped the name Cymric and accepted the Manx Longhair as a division of the Manx breed. A single breed standard covers both breeds. This is a benefit to breeders, since longhaired kittens born to Manx parents can be registered and shown in the longhair division.