Guide to Cat Breeds (See Full List)

Manx

Manx

Ancestry: Random-bred domestic cats
Place of Origin: Isle of Man, Great Britain
Date of Origin: Unknown
Accepted by: All North American cat associations (championship)

 
Description

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, since 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 five 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. Also, since genetic defects are more likely to occur when rumpies are bred together for three generations, experienced breeders 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, and set at a slight angle toward the nose with the outer corners slightly higher than the inner corners. 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 may be thinner after the spring shed. The texture of the outer guard hairs is somewhat hard and the appearance is glossy. A softer coat may 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 resulting in the colors chocolate, lavender, the Himalayan pattern, or these combinations with white. However, in TICA all colors and patterns are accepted, including the pointed pattern. Eye color can be gold to copper, green, hazel, blue, or odd-eyed, depending upon the color and pattern of the coat.

History

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.) Since 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 17th and 18th centuries trading vessels from all over the world stopped at the Isle of Man’s ports. Since 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, since it happened hundreds of years ago. The Manx is a very old breed, and since 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 that accept the Cymric (only CFF does not) consider it a separate breed from the Manx.

Notes

The gene that gives the Manx its unique tail also can be lethal. Kittens who inherit two copies of the tailless gene—one copy from each parent—die before birth and are reabsorbed in the womb. Since these kittens make up approximately 25 percent of all kittens conceived from Manx-to-Manx matings, litters are usually small, averaging two or three kittens. Even Manx who inherit only one copy of the tailless gene can have what’s commonly called Manx Syndrome. An abnormally short spine can result in gaps in the vertebrae, fused vertebrae, bowel or bladder dysfunction, and spina bifida (an incompletely formed spinal column that doesn't close completely, allowing the spinal cord to protrude through the opening). These defects are usually so serious that affected kittens must be put down. Not every Manx with a short spine has these problems and Manx Syndrome is not necessarily an indication of poor breeding practices; it can occur even in the most carefully planned litters. It’s just an unfortunate effect of the unpredictable expression of the Manx gene. These problems usually appear within the first month, but they can occur within the first six months of age, which is why it’s wise to wait until the kitten is a bit older before you open your checkbook. Buy from a breeder who is willing to guarantee the health of her kittens. A veterinary health certificate at the time of sale is not enough, particularly if the kitten is less than four months old. Avoid Manx who show any signs of weakness in the hindquarters or who walk stiffly, hop, or have trouble moving freely.

Dr. Leslie Lyons of UC Davis, as part of the Feline Genome Project, an international research effort to develop the DNA sequence of the cat genome, is studying the Scottish Fold, Manx, and Munchkin to determine why some bloodlines have health problems associated with their unique autosomal dominant traits and others do not. Dr. Lyons wishes to identify the genes responsible for the traits in the hope that this will help distinguish the bloodlines that cause problems so they can be eliminated from the gene pools. This research may help breeders keep their lines healthy and free of dangerous defects in the coming years.

The Manx possesses a dense double coat, so this breed requires regular grooming. A thorough combing once a week with a good steel comb will remove loose hairs and prevent matting, although grooming is required more often during the fall and spring shedding.

Did you know?

In spite of the lack of a tail, Manx are perfectly capable of landing on their feet, just like any long-tailed cat. While the tail acts as a counterbalance, it’s the cat’s sense of equilibrium and flexible spine that allow felines to perform their amazing midair self-righting act.

Personality

While some cat lovers believe the cat’s elegant and expressive tail is an indispensable part of a cat’s character, Manx lovers denounce the notion and note that Manx get their feelings across just fine without a tail to lash. Intelligent, even-tempered, playful and adaptable, Manx form strong bonds of love and trust with their chosen human companions. They are very affectionate and are often lap cats. However, they are not overly demanding of your attention.

While they commonly bond with one special person of their choosing, Manx usually enjoy the company of all family members and make good family pets. They get along with other companion animals as well, even dogs, if proper introductions are made, and with children who play nicely. If you spend a great deal of time away from home, consider getting your Manx a feline friend to keep her from becoming lonely.

Even though they are only moderately active, Manx are playful. Because of their powerful back legs, Manx are exceptional jumpers. Combine that with a healthy curiosity and you’ll usually find them on the tallest perch in the room. Unless you want to see your Manx grinning down at you like the Cheshire cat from the highest drapery rod, provide her with a tall, sturdy cat tree.

Manx are fascinated by water, perhaps from all those years on the Isle of Man. They particularly enjoy running water. Waterers that provide fresh water are a big hit with Manx and prevent them from begging you to turn on the faucet every time you enter the kitchen. Don’t let this mislead you into thinking they will enjoy baths, however.

Breed Characteristics

Size:Medium to large.
Coat Length(s):Short hair.
Body Type:Semi-cobby.
Grooming Requirement:Once a week.
Talkativeness:Average.
Activity Level:Average.
Affection:Very affectionate.
Usually Good With:Everyone.
Time Alone:More than 8 hours per day.
Attention:Needs average attention.
Handling:Easy to handle.