Some unfortunate felines lose their tails to accidents, but the Manx cat is born without that rear appendage. Not all Manx cats lack tails. Some Manx are born with full tails, with others -- appropriately called stumpies -- only have stumps.
The Manx cat is the pride and joy of the Isle of Man, an island in the Irish Sea between Ireland and Great Britain. The cat's image has been featured on Isle of Man coins and stamps. Although there is no shortage of legends regarding how the tailless breed ended up on the island, it probably resulted from a mutation occurring in the native feline population. The Manx was one of the earliest breeds registered with the Cat Fanciers Association and was among the first cats shown in Great Britain in the late 19th century.
Manx appear in any color or color pattern. The long-haired variety of Manx is known as the Cymric. At maturity, Manx cats weigh between 8 and 12 pounds. Because they are large-boned felines, they might look heavier than their actual weight. Whether tailless, stumpy or full-tailed, the Manx cat is round. He boasts a round head, round cheeks, round eyes and round behind. The latter feature is taller than his front end. While he can't exactly leap tall buildings in a single bound, his strong back end makes him an incredible jumper.
Although the lack of a tail adds interest to the breed, it's the Manx cat's purrsonality that really attracts people. Smart, playful and devoted to their owners, they're known as "cats for dog people." Many Manx learn to play fetch and even enjoy venturing into water. Manx cats generally get along with other pets, including canines, and make good companions for older kids. They're generally laid-back cats, but have a special talent for hunting.
The Manx lack of a tail occurs because of a genetic defect known as sacrocaudal dysgenesis. Many Manx kittens are born with spina bifida, or exposure of the spinal cord. Manx breeders usually humanely euthanize these kittens. Often, other neurological problems aren't apparent until a kitten is a couple of months old, so breeders generally don't allow kittens to go to new homes until they are at least 4 months of age. Common birth defects in Manx kittens include issues leading to fecal and urinary incontinence.
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.