- United Kingdom
The origin of the breed
Manx cats share their ancestor with british shorthair, and come from the Isle of Man in the Irish sea. Some 200 years ago they were revered as a spirit animal, being even portrayed on the isle’s insignia. The breed’s defining feature is it’s missing tail, dubious origins of which act as a perfect soil for sprawling fiction and fables on the matter. The dominant legend states that the last cat boarding the Noah’s Arc during the biblical deluge had its tail snapped by a door in an urgency. The other myth tells of Celts, native tribe of British isles, and their belief in woe upon any who steps on a cat tail. Apparently the gods decided to help poor people, and have made it so that local cats’ tails are much harder to step on. And then there is the mighty english folk lore, claiming that cats have lost their tails to local frugality, for as you see, the door closes much faster after a cat with shorter tail, and even more so after a tailless cat, and so it is said that ancient celts would chip their cat’s tail off to save the warmth, and therefore wood, during cold winter.
Of course there are more plausible versions, stating among others, that manx cats were brought to the island after the Spanish Armada was defeated by british shores by sir Francis Drake. Naval micers have either came with beached ships or (hardly believable, considering how manxes hate their bathtime) swimming for their lives, and being not local they had to adapt and became what they are. The other version is that they were brought from the Far East, a place where tailless cats were much more of a common sight, and in the next 3 decades or so they have assimilated into semblance of what they are now. Both ways, it seems that a spontaneous dominant mutation has forged their appearance, this and the natural isolation of British Islands. We can therefore conclude, that Manx have a natural origin.
Manx cats were starring at cat shows since at least middle XIX century, the first well documented one is from 1871, and in 1901 the formal Manx Fanciers Club came to life. Two years after, and the proud owner of a white Manx, an expert Charles Henry Lane has published the first, still informal, standard of the breed. In 1930’s first tailless cats of Irish origin have surfaced in the USA and Scandinavia, but since tailless gene can potentially cause some health issues they were not accepted by the GCCF, and were only acknowledged as a breed once they have settled in the US for good. However, these days Manx cats are accepted worldwide, and CFA merges them into the same breed with Cymric, considering one a shorthair variation of the other.
Manx cats have a notably stout build, strong body and thick double coat. They have a nice short body and wide chest, longer hind legs and round flanks. The breed is quite affected by sexual dimorphism, with males being much larger than females. The average male weighs around 10 to 12 lbs, while female weight is more modest at 8 to 10. The breed is defined by it’s missing tail, there is a dimple where a tail would normally be. However, manx can not only be tailles, but can have their tails of different length. Different tail configurations may sprout in a single litter, those literally tailless are called “dimple rumpy” or just “rumpy”, some may have a palpable gristle fragment, and as such are called “ruply risers”, it is very noticeably when the cat is in the good mood and wants to hold its tail high. Of course there are tailed kittens, both short “stumpy” and longer “tailed” are acknowledged. Despite their different appearance, all these types are part of Manx breed. American shows, however, have set participation as rumpy and riser exclusive, but there is a catch: riser tail fragment should not be an obstacle for expert’s hands.
Those Manx with normal tail length are necessary for safe breeding, since the tailless gene is dominant and is likely to cause diseases and sometimes death in tailless-tailless crossing. To add more, the so called “Manx syndrome” can cause numerous problems for the cats’ wellbeing, including heavy spinal cord damage, knitting vertebrae and spinal disc herniation. Even when no defects are visible on birth, they may surface in the first 4 weeks, and in extreme cases in up to first 4 months. This condition may involve bowel and bladder dysfunction, movement and locomotion difficulties. To produce healthy litters efficiently and minimize the occurrence of genetic flaws breeders utilise tailed animals in their breeding programme, and tailed manx are vital for wellbeing of the stock.
Whatever the tail may be, all Manx should have a rounded head and body, broad chest and specifically shaped ears. Manx spine is bend like an arch, hindlegs are longer than the front ones, and force the cat to move in a rabbit-like fashion, in short jumps.
Head: Large, round, slightly stretched on the nape-chin plane. Jaws are wide and prominent, so are cheeks. The skull is rather streamlined in shape, without sharp corners and sudden bumps. The nose is average in length, straight, with a neat lobe, usually pink in colour.
Eyes: Large, expressive and set at a slant. The outer edges are pointing at the ears, while inner edges point at the nose tip. All colours are permitted, so long as they correspond with the coat colour.
Ears: Average sized, high set, and with slightly pointed tips.
Neck: Short, thick and strong.
Body: Medium sized, compact yet stout. The spine is straight and short, ending in an extremely round rump. Flanks and belly are fit and deep, and are essential feature to this breed. Chest is strong and wide.
Legs: Strong, muscular, short, hindlegs being longer than the front ones.
Paws: Neat and round.
Tail: Number of standard variations exists: Rumpy (or dimple rumpy) - a completely missing tail; Riser (rumpy riser) is a short stump of a tail, usually hidden under the coat; Stumpy - a larger stump of a tail, no longer than 1,5 inches; Longy (tailed) a normal tail you could expect from a common cat.
Show-worthy variants are either tailless or only have a few tailbones, Rumpy Risers do score lower than Rumpy cats when compared directly.
Coat: Thick and ample doublecoat, soft to the touch and backed by hard and shiny guard hairs. The undercoat is only slightly shorter than the main coat, and is just as thick.
Colours: Any patterns, colours and combinations are allowed, excluding the chocolate, lilac, siamese and any aforementioned with white. For allowed colorations it is desired that all colour spots are separated by a white field. Eye colour, nose lobe and paw pad pigmentation should correspond with coat colour.
Flaws: Hindlegs shorter than front legs, wedge-shaped head, excessively large head, bending nose bridge, straight-set eyes, excessively wide chest, elongated body, straight spine, weak bone structure.
Disqualification on shows: Weak rump.
Universal disqualification: Amputated claws, cryptorchidism, deafness.
Character traits and features
Manx are known to be smart, chill and unnaturally loyal to their owner. They are very gentle, good with children and other pets, and still are excellent micers. Paying little attention to any living conditions, they dedicate everything to sociability, and will always try to be where the action is, not as a spectator but as the lead actor instead. Manx are known for their supernatural ability to feel the mood of humans and play by it. At times may even take offence in not getting their, apparently, well-deserved attention.
A peculiar trait of manx character - is their love of flowing water, while they dislike washing, they can and will stare at flowing water for hours at a time. Some will go as far as learning to push the toilet flush button or turn the tap valve just to make the show go on.
Despite their rather heavy build they are rather active, and reckless in their games.
Maintenance and care
Manx do not require any special maintenance, they keep themselves clean and do their best to behave, providing as little trouble as possible. Their thick doublecoat on the other hand, requires some attention: Breeders should comb their Manx cats at least twice a week usually, and as often as daily during the molt. Only wash your Manx cat when necessary, using a specialised shampoo.
Kittens develop rapidly, approaching adult sizes by the age of a few months. Naturally this requires of calcium and vitamin-rich diet, Manx litters are usually limited to 3-4 kittens, with prenatal deaths often reported with 5 and more kittens per birth. If your Manx cat ever gave birth to more than 3-4 kittens at a time - weekly veterinarian checkup is almost necessary, with ultrasound diagnostics a week before delivery to be sure about your litter size. When kittens are 4-6 days old, the breeder would usually have them undergo surgery and thus arrest tail development. The reason for this operation is not cosmetic: at the age of 5 the animal may experience tail calcification, a condition causing debilitating pain and oftenly requiring amputation, an untrivial physical and mental strain, hard for an adult animal to recover from. By performing surgery at this juvenile age - breeder reduces the chance of pathology appearing, and makes it much easier for the animal to pull through the disease and live healthily after.
Balanced diet is required
Selection and breeding
Allowed crossings: Cymric, British Shorthair, American Shorthair.
Breeds relative to or derived from Manx
Alternative and obsolete breed names