You've seen Manx cats and noticed they have bobbed tails or no tails at all. Their size and appearance may look to someone unfamiliar with cats like a lynx cat, which has a short tail. Rest assured, these are two very different animals.
The Manx shares its common heritage with all other domesticated cats, the species Felis sylvestrus catus. Descended from the African wildcat (Felis sylvestrus lybica) the domestic cat can actually mate with its ancestor. The lynx is a different species of wildcat. There are four species in the Lynx genus, including the Canadian lynx (Lynx canadensis), the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus), the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), and the bobcat (Lynx rufus).
The Manx cat weighs between 8 and 12 pounds; the lynx weighs between 22 and 44 pounds depending on species and gender. A Manx may have no tail, a bobbed tails or, rarely, a full tail. Lynx have bobbed tails, hence the name for one of their species, the bobcat. Lynx have tufts on their ears; Manx cats do not. The Manx's thick double coat keeps him warm and may be any cat color or markings, including tabby, calico or pointed. Lynx come in a brown color with black tipping and spots, and black ear tufts. The Lynx's snowshoelike feet help it run through the snow; the Manx does not have snowshoe feet.
Cat fanciers call the Manx's personality gregarious and loving -- the Manx is often compared to the dog. Manx love to swim, play fetch and play with friendly dogs. In comparison, the lynx avoids humans and hunts at night. The shy and solitary nature of the lynx is interrupted only for mating season and when a lynx mother raises her cubs. Lynx swim well and hunt snowshoe hare, mice, squirrels and birds. Manx will hunt mice but prefer a bowl of cat food.
The lynx lives in forests of North America, Europe and Asia. The Manx came from a natural breed on the Isle of Man with many fanciful legends surrounding them, including stories that depict the cats arriving with the Spanish Armada and that Manx cat mothers chewed the tails off their kittens to prevent the Isle of Man warriors from adorning their helmets with cat tails. Most likely Manx cats originated from British shorthair cats that traveled on ships to the island.
- "The Cat Fancier's Association Complete Cat Book"; Mordecai Siegal.
- Smithsonian Institute: Lynx canadensis
- University of Oslo Department of Physics Cyclotron Lab: Lynx.uio.no:Iberian Lynx
- National Geographic: Lynx lynx
- Smithsonian Institute: Lynx lynx
- Smithsonian Institute: Lynx rufus
- Fanciers.com: Manx FAQs
- BBC: Canada Lynx, American Lynx
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images