Manx Cats

The Cat for Dog People

Manx cats have the independent qualities of cats but are loyal, warm and playful like dogs. These often tailless, robust hunting cats are totally mellow and, oddly enough, known for their partiality to water.

Manx cat

Manx cats come from the Isle of Man, an island located on the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland. The Manx cat has been so beloved by the island’s residents that in 1971 the government put a picture of the Manx on one of its coins. The cat has also been featured on a stamp.

There’s no lack of island folklore when it comes to this darling feline. Two legends associated with the lack of a tail on the cat come from the Isle of Man Guide. One says that while Noah was filling the ark, he hastily shut the door and caught the tail of a Manx. The other says that mothers bit the tails off their Manx kittens to keep the invading Scandinavians from snatching them off to don as trophies on their helmets.

The breed is believed to have originated hundreds of years ago perhaps from a mutation of the island’s domestic cats, according to the Cat Fanciers Association. Though no one is sure exactly how these stumpy-tailed cats came to be, some speculate they are descendants of the short-tailed Annamite. Others believe they could be related to the Siam or the knotted-tail Malaya, according to Cat Fanciers.

Clinical signs of Manx Syndrome are typically obvious within the first three weeks if not immediately at birth. Breeders will usually keep Manx kittens until they can clear them of a serious defect.

Manx don’t “meow” per say but speak with a sort of “trill.” These laid-back, unruffled cats make good pets for children. They are surprisingly the “come when you call them” set. But you might not even have to call a Manx at all — this cat takes an interest in what you’re doing. So you will likely hear their padded paws following you around the house.

Some Manx have also been known to play fetch and enjoy the water. But their similarities to dogs don’t end there. Manx are so protective they might growl or attack a dog or a person they suspect is a threat to their family. (Tell your postal carrier to watch out!)

Manx cat

These big-boned cats are stocky with short hind legs and longer front legs and short or long double coats. What really distinguishes these cats are their tail lengths, say experts as Kittens are classified when they are born according to these categories:

  • Dimple rumpy or rumpy: No tail 
  • Riser or rumpy riser: Stub of cartilage or vertebrae under fur 
  • Stumpy: Partial tail 
  • Tailed or longy: Complete or nearly complete tail

The lack of a traditional tail in Manx cats is caused by Manx Syndrome, also known as Sacrocaudal dysgenesis. The gene affects the cat's spine in varying degrees, some of which can be fatal. In severely affected cats, there are serious spinal defects including a gap in the last few vertebrae, fused vertebrae, or spina bifida in newborns.

Neurological deficiencies such as fecal or urinary incontinence and in-coordination of the rear legs are often the result of these spinal defects.