"What happened to his tail?" is the first thing you're liable to hear when you show off your Manx cat to your friends. This gives you an opportunity to educate your friends on this naturally bobbed-tail feline. But what kind of Manx do you have? There are several.
What's a Manx?
The Manx breed originated in the Isle of Man, a small island off the coast of Great Britain. It shared the same ancestor as the domestic cat, and there is evidence of both short-hair and long-hair cats in its lineage. At some point during its evolution there was a mutation that caused underdevelopment in the vertebrae composing the tail, called the coccygeal/caudal vertebra. Interbreeding of island cats that had this mutation brought a whole new breed of cat that was recognized by the Cat Fanciers' Association in the 1920s.
There are several varieties of Manx cat, grouped according to how long the tail or portion of a tail is. "Rumpy" indicates the presence of a dimple where the tail would normally be and is sometimes called a dimple rumpy. "Rumpy riser" refers to a small knob where the tail would be; there may or may not be one to three vertebrae beginning at the end of the spine. It is most noticeable when the cat is happy, as she can raise those few vertebrae a little just as if she were to hold her tail straight up, were she to have one. The rumpy and the rumpy riser are the only types of Manx that can be shown in cat shows directed by the Cat Fanciers' Association. The CFA does allow other types of tails to be shown, but not in the Manx group. Manx cats with tails other than rumpies or rumpy risers can be shown in a different category.
The stumpy Manx has a bit of a tail, at least three vertebrae, so it is longer than a rumpy riser -- but it is not a full tail. It sometimes looks like half a tail or a bobtail. This cat almost looks as if she may have had a tail at one time but lost it to an injury. Stumpies, while being as lovable and personable as any other self-respecting Manx, cannot be shown in the Manx category of a CFA show. You can, however, show them in the AOV category, which means "any other variety." This is the class where cats that do not fall into any specific breed category are shown.
He's Got a Tail!
Though it may seem counterintuitive, some Manx cats actually have tails. They are not simply regular cats passing themselves off as Manx; they have real tails, or longer partial tails than stumpies have. This cat is simply called a tailed Manx or "longy." Manx breeders report that a single litter can have all four types of Manx kittens, from rumpies to longies. Also, there have been tailed Manx cats that have strutted away with CFA championships in the AOV category. Here's a fun fact: An old wives' tale maintained that the Manx was a cross between a cat and a rabbit called a "cabbit," because of the cat's unusual body shape.
Michelle A. Rivera is the author of many books and articles. She attended the University of Missouri Animal Cruelty School and is certified with the Florida Animal Control Association. She is the executive director of her own nonprofit, Animals 101, Inc. Rivera is an animal-assisted therapist, humane educator, former shelter manager, rescue volunteer coordinator, dog trainer and veterinary technician.