For a cat to be a true Manx, its ancestry must be able to be traced back to the Isle of Man off the western coast of England, as it appears this is where they originated.
It is often believed the Manx is tailless, but in fact it may have a stump or even a full tail. What is evident is that the Manx has a genetic mutation of the spine, which results in having longer hind than front legs. This can give them a ‘rounded’ appearance, and an unusual hopping gait, particularly in the kittens. (One of the old myths about these cats is that they are actually part rabbit, which helped explain their running style!) It appears that the tailless trait became dominant on the island and so became the ‘norm’ for a cat in that region. The isolation of the cats from the mainland allowed the trait to continue for hundreds of years.
As stated above, people often believe what distinguishes a Manx from other breeds is its lack of a tail, but there are other tailless breeds, and the Manx may have tails. These are defined in this way:
- ‘Rumpies’ -meaning no tail at all, and a hollow where a tail would be.
- ‘Risers’ -a small tail remnant.
- ‘Stumpies’ -medium tail remnant.
- ‘Longies’ -a fill tail or nearly complete tail.
Only the completely tailless cats are considered to be ‘show quality’ animals.
- Medium in size, from about 3.5 to 4.5kgs.
- May have short or long-haired double coats which come in all colours and patterns. Long-haired Manx are often called Cymric.
- Easy-going temperament.
- Fond of people, good with children.
- Love to climb and be up high.
- Social, gets on well with other pets.
- Protective of their home, and may even growl at intruders.
- Quiet cats, not loud or vocal. They tend to use a trill noise rather than a loud meow.
- They love to tear around in play, especially chasing each other.
- May get attached on one particular person and follow them around.
- Can display dog-like qualities such as loyalty, and learn to understand some commands.
Manx cats in general are healthy and quite strong and sturdy. However their spinal mutation can lead to problems such as spina bifida or damage to the nervous system, especially if two ‘rumpies’ are combined. Breeding practices have helped to eliminate many of these problems, by mating rumpies with the other varieties.
Caring for a Manx
This breed is quite easy to care for, but the long-haired Manx needs grooming a few times a week with a comb or brush. All Manx have a double coat, with the top coat shedding in the warmer months.
Manx are generally happy and playful cats and adapt well to family life. They can make lovely pets, and may suit singles, families or people living in a flat or unit. Since they shed each year they may not suit people with allergies.