What Is a Manx Cat?

I'm so much more than just tail-free.

I'm so much more than just tail-free.

Although the lack of a tail is his best-known attribute, the Manx cat is far more than a genetic curiosity. He's the sort of cat people who aren't fond of felines can adore, because he possesses dog-like traits. Manx cats usually like dogs, along with playing games like fetch.


While some of the Manx's past is shrouded in mystery, the Cat Fanciers' Association reports that the breed originated hundreds of years ago on Britain's Isle of Man. As the island was a trading area, whether tailless felines developed from a mutation among the island's own cat population, or because of interbreeding with cats on leave from sailing vessels, is still a matter of conjecture. The CFA recognized the Manx as a specific breed back in the 1920s.


Other than the lack of the rear appendage, the most striking aspect of the Manx cat is his roundness. Round head, round cheeks, round eyes—that's the Manx. His coat may be long or short, of any color variety. The long-haired version was formerly known as the Cymric, but now both types are referred to as Manx. While his back is short, the rear legs are overdeveloped and strong.


Yes, Manxes can have tails. They may be as long as that of the typical domestic cat, somewhat shorter or a mere knob. Cats with such tail knobs are called "rumpy risers." The classic no-tailed Manx is called a rumpy, and only the rumpy and the rumpy riser may compete at cat shows.


The Manx endears himself to his people by virtue of his charming purrsonality. Smart and fun-loving, he makes a wonderful feline companion. While you can't tell his state of mind via tail movements as with ordinary cats, he'll make sure you know how he feels. You can teach this cat tricks. He also likes water and may bury his toys—see why dog people love the Manx? You'll be amazed at his jumping ability. His powerful hind legs propel him to heights not accessible to the average kitty.


Sacrocaudal dysgenesis, or Manx syndrome, is the veterinary term for the cat's lack of a tail. Make no mistake: it's a genetic defect. Kitten mortality in the Manx is high because of it. For some cats, the genetic heritage results in spina bifida, resulting in weak or unusable rear legs. It affects the ability of some cats to urinate and defecate properly. By the time the kitten is 6 months old, these issues should be apparent, so wait and purchase an older kitten from a reputable breeder to avoid heartbreak. Make sure the breeder gives you a health guarantee before buying a Manx.

About the Author

Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.

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