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Norwich Bulletin - 11/28/2004

The Tailess Manx

It is believed that on the Isle of Man, hundreds of years ago, off the coast of England, the Manx cat originated. Because the Isle was the home to many trade ships, all of which had ship cats, it is hard to pinpoint the parentage, but it is safe to assume that both long and short hair were represented in the original mutation. The Isle of Man has records documenting the Manx as the Island's domestic cat, but we really will never know how much credit to give some of those ship's cats!

Geneticists say that the taillessness of the Manx is the result of a spontaneous mutation and the breed continued on with centuries of inbreeding in the isolated island environment. As time went on, the Manx breed was created and so the cats were bred to have similar appearances. The tailless Manx is of solid, medium build and is one of our cobby breeds. It's head is round with widely spaced ears and large, round eyes. Powerful hind legs, longer than the front, gives the cat an almost jack rabbit type look.

The Manx is coat has a dense undercoat and is thick and glossy. Just about all colors and patterns are recognized by the cat fancy associations. There are also four types of Manx (but only two are accepted for championship class). The Rumpy is a completely tailess Manx cat and a Rumpy Riser appears to be completely tailless but has one to three vertebrae fused to the end of the spine.

These two types of Manx are able to be shown in the championship class at cat shows. The Stumpy has a short, moveable tail stump and the Longy is a cat with what may be a shorter than normal tail, but is still a tail. These cats are best used in the Manx breeding program because they bring a necessary sturdiness to the breed in general.

The Manx has been accepted as a breed since the 1920's and have a loyal following amongst those who fancy the breed. These tailless felines have a very friendly, affectionate and playful nature as a rule. They can also jump higher than one might imagine, with those rabbit like hind legs! It is not unusual to find them perching on top of the refrigerator or other high point in a room.

Manx, in general, tend to bond with an individual or a family, which makes it very difficult to place the cat into a new home situation so it is even more important than usual to know you can commit long term to owning a pet. While there are some Manx that will readily accept attention from anyone, it is not the norm. Also, Manx will exhibit "dog like" traits in that they will retrieve and even bury their toys! They will growl in strange situations they are uncomfortable in and they also like to follow their special person around!

The Manx has a definite unusual appearance that many people find endearing. Because of the chances of certain medical problems that can show up in Manx breedings, it is imperative that you find a responsible and respected breeder when considering one of these special kitties. Obviously, one of the unusual traits of the Manx that draws its admirers, is the lack of tail. And while a genetic mutation is the probably explanation, I like the biblical explanation of the Manx's lack of tail.

It is said that the Manx was the last of God's creatures to climb aboard the Ark, barely making it inside before Noah slammed the door shut. And in another tale, the Viking warriors stole kittens to use their tails as good luck charms and in order to save their kittens, mother cats would bite off the tails of their young.

Whatever the "true" reasons for the Manx being tailless, they are sweet and beguiling creatures and a pleasant addition to any cat household.

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