“Manx” is the Celtic name for the Isle of Man and is also that of the most well-known representative of local wildlife, the Manx cat. This breed is even known to many cat laypeople because the velvet paws lack an important feline attribute: the tail. Although this extreme handicap in the Manx (originally) was not intentionally promoted by man as a “beauty ideal”, the breed is considered in many places to be “torture breeding”. Meet the peculiar islander.
Husbandry and care of the Manx
Anyone who decides to get a Manx should be aware that keeping cats will almost inevitably involve a lot of vet visits. Manx cats are prone to various orthopedic conditions. This often leads to malformations of the vertebrae and malpositions of the skeleton, which manifest themselves in arthrosis or the formation of an “open spine”. Due to a tendency to shortened intestines, many Manx also suffer from gastrointestinal diseases, including incontinence or deformities of the anus opening.
However, these diseases may only show up as the animal grows up and cannot yet be seen in a kitten. At nine to thirteen years, the life expectancy of a Manx is also significantly shorter than that of other breeds.
A Manx should always be kept as an indoor cat, ideally with access to a secured balcony or garden. Outdoor life would be risky for the tailless cat. At the same time, she is physically restricted and lacks an important means of communication with her tail. When it comes to conflicts with other cats, the Manx tends to lose out.
Still, the Manx also needs opportunities to climb and play. It is ideal if you make it easier for the animal to access higher vantage points such as windowsills or desks with cleverly arranged furniture or steps.
The Manx needs regular brushing: their hair may be short, but the undercoat is so dense that tangles and tangles easily form. Be particularly careful when touching the rear end: where the tail is normally located, there are numerous nerve endings that make the cat’s tail extremely sensitive.
There is nothing special about feeding the Manx, but the breed tends to be overweight. Pay careful attention to the rations in the bowl and use high-quality food that is low in fat and sugar.
Peculiarities of the Manx
Of course, the most noticeable feature of the Manx cat is the absence of a tail. This is also the subject of critical discussion by international cat associations and animal protection organizations. Objectively speaking, a missing cat’s tail is an obvious handicap that leads to an impairment of the sense of balance. Critics of Manx breeding, therefore, question whether it is compatible with animal welfare to intentionally reproduce such a physical limitation. The front legs of the Manx are also shorter than the back ones. This different physique means that the animals do not walk as elegantly as their conspecifics, but use a hopping that is more reminiscent of rabbits for fast locomotion.
When first meeting strangers, the Manx may still be a bit reserved. Basically, however, it is a friendly family cat that does not like being alone and bonds closely with its caregivers. She gets along well with other pets such as peaceful dogs. However, at least one conspecific should be part of the party, whereby the partner cat must not be a brawler. The Manx initially eyes visitors or unfamiliar situations from a safe distance.
The Manx is considered a rather quiet cat who rarely makes itself heard loudly. Instead, she meows softly or makes cooing noises. Despite her composure, she needs stimulation and occupation with regular play with her humans.
Colors of the Manx
Manx cats come in almost unlimited color variety: solid, spotted, tiger, tuxedo, calico, tabby. Because the genes for taillessness are not linked to coat color, and the Manx ancestors were a diverse population, there are very few restrictions on nuances. The typical color pattern, as found in Siamese cats, is considered undesirable in the breed standard.
By analogy, there are no restrictions on eye color. Amber, copper, green, brown, orange, yellow, and gold are found in Manx.
The History of the Manx
Once when Noah bolted the ark, the Manx just managed to run inside – but their tail fell victim to the slamming door. So much for the folk origin story of the Manx.
The scientific explanation is soberer: the effects of genetics can be understood in the Manx. In fact, the Manx breed did not actually originate from intentional breeding. Rather, it was an unfortunate combination of genetics and geography. The home of the tailless cat, the Isle of Man, is surrounded by a natural border that cats cannot cross due to its location in the Irish Sea. In addition, the island is quite small with only 572 square kilometers.
It is not clear how the first domestic cats reached the island, perhaps seafarers brought them with them from Asia. However, within the local population, inbreeding inevitably occurred over time and thus the gene pool was reduced. On this basis, a spontaneous, natural gene mutation of the cat’s tail could become established, which occurs only in very rare individual cases in mainland cats.
The hereditary disposition for “taillessness” is inherited dominantly, at the same time it is a so-called “recessive lethal factor”. As a consequence, this initial situation means, among other things, that mating two Manx cats during breeding carry the risk of stillbirths. With responsibly arranged matings, one parent is always a non-Manx (usually a British Shorthair) and in the litter, there are kittens without a tail as well as kittens with a rudimentary or normal tail.
Today, breeders consciously conserve the fatal “taillessness” as a breed characteristic. A distinction is made between different characteristics: so-called “Rumpies” (without tail vertebrae), “Stumpies” (with a rudimentary tail), “Stumpie Raiser” (movable stumpy tail), and “Tailies” (Manx with a normal tail). Only “Rumpies” are allowed to participate in exhibitions (if the breed is allowed at all).
Manx cats were occasionally seen at cat shows as early as the 18th century. Breeding has been planned in the USA since the 1930s, and the breed was officially recognized in the 1960s by the British Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF). The Manx is also listed by the CFA (Cat Fanciers’ Association, USA), ACFA (American Cat Fanciers Association) and FIFe (Fédération Internationale Féline).
Breeders of the breed are mainly found in Great Britain, the USA, and Scandinavia. In Germany, the breeding of Manx cats is prohibited under the Animal Welfare Act, as the breed is classified as torture in this country. So you won’t find any domestic sources for the tailless pedigree cats.