It's easy to see the appeal of a Manx cat. These cuties are very smart and playful. Some have no tails, while others have most of a tail. Though they are prone to a condition known as "Manx syndrome," they are engaging, conversational companions.
Though noted for their shortened or even missing tails, Manx cats have a distinct appearance, often described as rounded. He has round eyes set in a round head, as well as a rounded rear. Though we tend to think of the Manx as a completely tailless cat, that's not necessarily true. There are four options: a rumpy or dimple rumpy, which is a cat with no tail at all; a riser or rumpy riser, which is a cat with several vertebrae or a stub of cartilage under his fur; a stumpy, a cat with a partial tail; a tailed or longy, a Manx with most of a tail. Whatever the state of his tail, this guy isn't deformed, but has a natural mutation of his spine.
Manx Syndrome - Spina Bifida
The mutation that causes his taillessness can also cause problems because of the impact it can have on the development of his spine and spinal cord. The general term for the medical defect in Manx cats is "Manx syndrome." Spina bifida, a condition where the neural tube forming the spinal cord isn't closed and the vertebrae aren't completely formed, is the most common form of Manx syndrome seen in Manx cats. Complications from spina bifida depend on how severely deformed the spinal cord is, and include a strange "hopping" walk, lack of bowel and bladder control, a stance that leaves more of the hind leg on the ground than normal, and lack of sensation in the hind legs. For cats with particularly severe cases of spina bifida, the deformity is fatal.
Manx Syndrome - Other Issues
Some Manx cats have spinal problems that result in neurological issues, affecting their ability to pee and poop. Rectal prolapse, where part of the rectum falls out of place, urinary tract defects, and megacolon, a widening of the large intestine, are other potential obstacles. Most times, problems are identified by the time a kitten is six months old and if the issues are severe enough, the cat will have to be euthanized. The good news is that breeders have been improving their breeding methods and there has been a decrease in Manx syndrome as they become more educated. FAB Cats reports that Manx syndrome tends to affect about 20 percent of Manx cats, with most of the affected cats being rumpies.
Healthy and Not Missing a Tail
A healthy Manx doesn't miss his tail. His powerful back end helps him jump and provide balance for landing. He's also very mart and enjoys carrying his toys about like prey and playing fetch. If you have a healthy adult Manx cat, chances are Manx syndrome won't be an issue, as most problems present during their first six months.