The Manx is the only truly tailless breed. Taillessness appears absolute in the perfect specimen. Because of the idiosyncrasies of the tailless gene, Manx cannot 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 for championship 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; few people are willing to adopt a Manx with a tail. In addition, breeders say the Manx gene can cause problems for longie adult cats 5 years of age and older. The tail might 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. Also, since genetic defects are more likely to occur when rumpies are bred together for three or more generations, experienced breeders keep careful records of rumpy to rumpy matings, and include all four tail types in their breeding programs.
The Manx 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 Manx’s double coat is short and dense with a well-padded quality due to the longer, open outer coat and the close, cottony undercoat. The coat might be thinner after the spring shed. The texture of the outer guard hairs is somewhat hard and the appearance is glossy. A softer coat might occur in whites and dilutes due to a genetic link between coat texture and these colors.
In CFA and most other associations, all colors and patterns are accepted, except those showing hybridization (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.
The Manx has been around for hundreds of years. The breed 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 and has known Celtic, Norse, Scottish, and English rule. (Today, the Isle is a self-governing Crown dependency with its own parliament and laws.) Because the Isle has no indigenous wildcats from which the Manx 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 Manx is 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. Because such ships commonly kept cats as the perfect mousetraps, it’s entirely possible that the Manx’s ancestors came from a number of places.
According to island records, taillessness began as a spontaneous mutation among the island’s domestic cat population, although some believe the mutation occurred elsewhere and was later transported to the island aboard trading ships. We’ll never know for sure, though, because it happened hundreds of years ago. The Manx is a very old breed, and because it has now spread to many other countries, it’s impossible to say where the mutation first arose.
Given the Isle’s closed environment and small gene pool, the dominant gene that governs the Manx’s taillessness easily passed from one generation to the next. Soon a thriving population of tailless cats of various colors, patterns, and hair lengths roamed the green hills and wooded glens of the Isle of Man, playing hide and squeak with the resident mice.
In North America, the Manx was recognized as a breed in the 1920s. Ellen and Ruth Carlson of Chicago, very active in showing Manx in the 1930s, achieved the first Manx grand champion in the American Cat Association (ACA). Today the Manx enjoys championship status in all North American associations.
In 1994, CFA accepted the Cymric (Manx Longhair) as a division of the Manx breed; the two breeds share a single standard except for sections describing the two hair lengths. A single breed standard covers both breeds. In addition, TICA considers the Cymric a division of the Manx Breed Group, although the other associations consider it a separate breed from the Manx.