Manx Cat: Cat Breed Information, Characteristics and Facts
It is so easy to fall in love with the Manx cat. This is a feline that is best known for its affectionate nature and remarkable friendliness. Households with cat-friendly dogs will find the Manx a welcome addition to their growing family. And with its tailless appearance, this is one unique cat that is sure to generate a buzz in the neighborhood.
History of the Manx Cat
Like most pedigreed cats, not much is known about the exact origins of the Manx cat or how it arrived on the Isle of Man. What fanciers know so far is that one of its ancestors is the African wildcat.
It was only in the 19th century when people in the Isle of Man began documenting the presence of tailless cats. They called these felines “stubbin” because of the “stub”- like appearance of their tail.
There are many stories about how the cat “lost” its tail. However, the most credible story is that of ship mousers. Sailors of trading ships picked up some corkscrew-tailed felines in Japan. They used these cats to help control the rodents in trading ships and help preserve their precious cargo as they made their way back to Phoenicia. No one knows how these cats ended up in the Isle of Man. The notion is that some of these ships sunk off the coast of the island. Surviving cats were able to make it to the island and began breeding with the local cat population.
Whatever the origins of the Manx cat are, this is one of the world’s oldest feline breeds. It is one of the first feline breeds ever to be exhibited at a cat show in the mid-19th century. By the late 1800s, it is already recognized as a distinct breed. It is also one of the first feline breeds that the Cat Fanciers’ Association recognized in the early 20th century.
Quick Facts about the Manx Cat
People recognize the Manx cat because of its tailless nature. This is not 100 percent accurate, however. There are Manx cats that also have tails, albeit almost unrecognizable. This is just one of the several interesting facts about the breed that every potential pet parent should know about.
- There are Many Legends as to Why the Manx “Lost” Its Tail
One of the most enduring legends as to how the feline lost its tail has a Biblical undertone. When it began to rain, Noah closed the door of the ark. Unfortunately, the cat was not fast enough in getting inside that its tail got accidentally cut off by the closing door. Many people in the Isle of Man still believe in this story.
There are also more “modern” versions of how the Manx lost its tail. Since motorcycle racing is the sport the Isle of Man is known for, people believed that the cat severed its tail when it was run over by a motorcycle. This cannot account for the existence of the feline prior to the invention of the motorcycle, however.
Another tall tale is that the Manx is the result of crossbreeding a domestic cat with a rabbit. Proponents of the “cabbit” theory say that only a rabbit can help explain many of the “un-catlike” characteristics of the cat. For example, the Manx can have a rabbit-like hopping gait as well as long hind legs. It also helps explain as to why the Manx has very little tail to no tail at all. However, there are no documents to prove that such a crossbreeding ever existed.
A more reality-based theory is that the Manx is a descendant of Spanish tailless cats. The folk tale suggests that these tailless cats swam to shore when a vessel of the Spanish Armada got shipwrecked near the Spanish Head promontory. Unfortunately, cat fanciers say there are no tailless cats in Spain.
- The Missing Tail is the Result of a Genetic Mutation
The more “credible” explanation as to why the Manx cat does not have a tail or has a very short, unnoticeable tail is because of genetic mutation. Biologists and cat fanciers are still trying to decipher the specific gene that codes for the mutation, however. What is known so far is that the tailless nature of the Manx is a result of spontaneous genetic mutation. This means that it occurred on its own.
The geographical location of the Isle of Man can help explain why these tailless feline breeds are more numerous in this part of the world. Located between the United Kingdom and Ireland, the Isle of Man is surrounded by the waters of the Irish Sea. Because of its relative isolation, it is almost impossible for non-island cats to contribute to the Manx’s development. This leads to the conclusion that the Manx’s taillessness is a dominant gene.
- Manx Cats Can Have Tails
While the Manx tailless gene is a dominant trait, cat fanciers say that all Manx kitties have at least one “full tail” gene. Hence, a male and a female Manx can still produce a kitten that has a full-length tail. Some may have only 3 to 4 vertebrae forming their tail.
In normal feline anatomy, cats should have 22 to 23 caudal vertebrae that form their tail. Manx cats will have less than that. It is interesting to note that the Cat Fanciers’ Association only allows the Manx Rumpy (no tail at all) in the organization’s championship classes. If the Manx has a noticeable tail, the CFA classifies it as All Other Varieties.
If the Manx has 1 to 2 caudal vertebrae, the CFA calls it the Manx Rumpy-risers. If the cat has 3 to 4 vertebrae, then it’s a Manx Stumpy. Full-tailed Manx cats are called Manx Longy.
- They Come in Two Coat Lengths and Various Colors and Patterns
Manx cats can come in two lengths of coat: short and long. Both types of Manx cats have a dense, double-layered coat. Shorthaired Manx cats come with a soft and dense undercoat plus a coarse outer coat with guard hairs. Longhaired Manx kitties have medium-length double coat that fanciers say feels like silk. The cat, also known as Cymric in some cat registries, also has breeches, full ear furnishings, neck and belly ruffs, and tufts of fur between the cat’s toes.
This breed can have solid, tabby, calico, and tortoiseshell coat patterns, regardless of their length of fur. There are also Manx felines that have colorpoints, spotted, and marbled. It is clear that these coat patterns are the result of extensive crossbreeding practices that utilize different feline breeds. The most common coat colors are orange, orange and white, and cream.
Things You Should Know
There is no doubt that the Manx is an adorable cat. With its friendliness, loyalty, playfulness, and affectionate nature, this is a pet that even dog-loving folks would want in their homes. Before you get a Manx cat, however, it is important to learn a few basic things about this breed.
One has to understand that having two copies of the Manx tailless gene can result in miscarriage. It is for this reason that breeders have to be very careful in their breeding practices. As much as possible, they do not breed two Manx Rumpies. Also, many of the diseases associated with this breed are secondary to the presence of the mutant gene.
Stumpies are known to be susceptible to a type of arthritis that can cause very severe pain. There is also the risk of having a Manx syndrome whereby the tailless gene affects more than the caudal vertebrae of the cat. This can lead to spinal cord damage as well as spina bifida. It can cause urinary tract problems, digestive issues, and bowel problems.
In addition to these health concerns, Manx cats are also at risk for developing rump fold intertrigo. This is a type of skin inflammation resulting in a severe rash. Some cats may also develop corneal dystrophy, which can affect the cat’s vision. Another health problem that some Manx cats can develop is the abnormal dilatation of the colon, known as megacolon.
The ideal weight of an adult Manx cat is between 8 and 12 lbs. It is important to maintain the cat’s ideal body weight and prevent obesity. Doing so will reduce the risk of obesity-related feline diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
All cats should receive a pet food that contains all the right nutrients necessary for the animal’s normal growth and development. The best cat food is raw whole prey foods. However, given that it is quite difficult to source high-quality raw cat food, the next best thing will be to prepare cooked meals for them. This can also be problematic if one is not knowledgeable about the different nutrients that the Manx cat needs.
It is for this reason that wet cat food remains the best option for the Manx cat. It contains more moisture than kibbles, while also providing the cat with sufficient amounts of protein and fat. The carbohydrate content of wet cat food is also lower compared to kibbles.
Because of the potential effects of the mutant gene on the overall health of the cat, regular visits to a veterinarian are a must. There are no screening tests for some of the hereditary diseases that a Manx cat can have, however. The good news is that early detection of symptoms can help the veterinarian design a more appropriate plan of care for the cat. This is in addition to the comprehensive wellness examinations and mandatory vaccine shots for the cat.
The breed needs exercise to help it avoid getting obese and to help strengthen its muscles and bones. This is not a problem with the Manx cat because it has a very playful nature. It is also intelligent that you can teach it a few tricks. Some pet parents are also known for taking their cats for a walk.
Part of the care of a Manx cat is cleaning its litter box. Soiled litter can make the cat take its business elsewhere. Unsanitary litter boxes can also be a breeding ground for germs that can make the cat sick. It is for this reason that pet parents should always clean the litter box every week. Scooping clumped litter every day can make the weekly cleanup a lot easier.
Keep the Manx cat indoors. There are stray cats and other animals that can hurt the Manx cat if it goes outdoors. Vehicles and other safety hazards also pose a threat to the safety and wellbeing of this breed. Moreover, this feline breed is expensive. Rare-colored Manx cats can cost up to a few thousand dollars. Common-colored kitties can cost around $400 to $600. You do not want to lose a beautiful and friendly cat like the Manx.
The Manx cat needs everyday brushing of its coat, regardless of its length. One has to understand that the coat is thick. Dirt can get trapped in its thick coat. Hence, brushing it every day can help keep the cat’s coat clean and healthy.
Brushing the Manx cat’s teeth every day is ideal. However, once every 2 to 3 days is often enough. Clip its claws every 3 to 4 weeks. Clean and inspect its ears every week.
Manx cats are very atypical felines. They are very loyal to their human owners, to the point that they can get separation anxiety if they don’t see their masters for a certain period of time. They are the equivalent of Velcro dogs, following their beloved owners wherever they may go.
This feline breed is affectionate and very friendly. It can befriend a cat-friendly dog as well as other cats. It does not mind sharing its resources with other kitties, especially if it grew up with them. The Manx cat is also a very playful breed. It has the energy of a Chihuahua and the intelligence of a Border Collie. This breed loves the attention it gets from everyone in the family.
Overall, the Manx cat is one of the most ideal pet felines to have. It has an exotic look and a very pleasant personality. Be mindful, however, of the effects of its mutant gene. It is best to get one only from trustworthy breeders.