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What are Manx Cats?

Diane Goettel
Updated Mar 05, 2024
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Manx cats, named for the Isle of Man where they originated, are a breed of felines that have a natural spinal mutation. This mutation yields a stubby tail or the complete absence of a tail. While Manx cats are known for being completely tailless, many of them do actually have tails that are simply shorter, or stubbier than the tails on all other breeds of cats. In fact, breeders have classified the tail length into four categories.

A “tailed” Manx, which is also referred to as a “longy” has a tail that is almost as long as tails on other breeds of cats. A “stumpy” is a cat with a partial tail. Manx cats with just a stub of a tail, no more than a few vertebrae, are called “risers” or “rumpy risers.” In this case, the tail may not be visible unless the cat raises its very abbreviated tail to express joy or it is felt for under the fur. A “rumpy” or “dimple rumpy” Manx has no tail at all. As mentioned above, this is the most well-known version of Manx cats.

Breeders classify their kittens based on the length of the tail. While the length of the tale is based on genes and most litters produce kittens with the same kind of tail, breeders have reported litters of kittens with varying tail lengths. If Manx kittens are born with tails, some breeders will dock them. This is not entirely for aesthetics. Rather, it has been found that Manx cats with partial tails are prone to a certain form of very painful arthritis. Tail docking is sometimes preformed as a preventative measure against this affliction.

While the absence or abbreviation of the tail is the most obvious genetic difference between the Manx cat and other breeds, there are other physical characteristics that distinguish them. For example, Manx cats have hind legs that are longer than their front legs. Furthermore, Manx cats can have two different types of coats. A short-haired Manx has two layers of fur. The bottom layer is short, and the top layer is longer and coarser. A long-haired Manx, which is also known as a Cymric Manx, also has two layers of fur. However, both coats are of medium length and are quite silky. Furthermore, the cats exhibit ruff — a longer, sometimes curly patch of fur — on the belly, neck, britches, and ears.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the defining characteristics of Manx cats?

Manx cats are best known for their unique taillessness, which is the result of a genetic mutation. They have a rounded appearance, with a short back and longer hind legs that give them a distinctive hop-like gait. Their coats can be short or long and come in various colors and patterns. The Manx's round head, large eyes, and sturdy build add to their charm.

How does the taillessness in Manx cats occur genetically?

The taillessness in Manx cats is due to a dominant gene mutation that affects spinal development. This gene, known as the 'Manx gene,' can lead to a range of tail lengths, from normal to completely absent. However, two copies of the gene can be lethal, so breeders must carefully mate Manx cats to avoid health issues related to the spine.

Are Manx cats prone to any specific health issues?

Manx cats can be susceptible to a condition called Manx Syndrome, which is associated with the gene that causes their taillessness. This can lead to spinal problems, such as spina bifida, as well as issues with the bowels and bladder. Regular veterinary check-ups are important to monitor and manage these potential health concerns.

What is the temperament of Manx cats?

Manx cats are known for their friendly and affectionate nature. They are often described as social and playful, enjoying the company of humans and other pets. Their dog-like characteristics include loyalty and the tendency to follow their owners around. Manx cats are also intelligent and can be taught to perform tricks or play fetch.

How do I care for a Manx cat's coat?

Caring for a Manx cat's coat depends on its length. Short-haired Manx cats require minimal grooming, benefiting from a weekly brushing to remove loose hair. Long-haired varieties, known as Cymric or Manx Longhair, need more frequent grooming to prevent matting. Regardless of coat length, regular nail trimming and ear cleaning are recommended.

Can Manx cats live comfortably both indoors and outdoors?

Manx cats can adapt to both indoor and outdoor environments. However, keeping them indoors is generally safer and protects them from dangers such as traffic, predators, and diseases. Indoor Manx cats can live a fulfilled life with enough space to play and explore. If allowed outdoors, a secure and supervised area is best to ensure their safety.

AllThingsNature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Diane Goettel
By Diane Goettel
In addition to her work as a freelance writer for AllThingsNature, Diane Goettel serves as the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. Over the course, she has edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter “Sapling,” and The Adirondack Review. Diane holds a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

Discussion Comments

By Lostnfound — On Jan 26, 2014

I have a no-tail rescue kitty who is probably part Manx. He is a rumpy and has no tail at all. When he gets excited, a tuft of fur near the base of his spine ripples. It's pretty hilarious.

One thing I found in reading about the Manx is that some kittens are born with what amounts to spina bifida, which means they have problems eliminating and other issues. These kittens usually are euthanized when the condition becomes evident. This is why breeders have to be so careful about their cats. They may see some lethal conditions like this that have no cure. The best method, then, is prevention.

Diane Goettel

Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for AllThingsNature, Diane Goettel serves as the executive editor of Black...
Read more
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