Need I say that the most outstanding Manx cat characteristic is the lack of a tail? One of the most interesting characteristics of the Manx is that it is a cat with a long history so it was around at the beginning of the cat fancy in England. It is what is called a “natural cat breed” as it evolved naturally rather than being created through deliberate hybridization.
As the Manx has been around since the late 1800s and had a breed standard from that time, it gives me the opportunity to compare physical characteristics between 1898 and, 115 years later, in 2013. Doing this highlights the characteristics of today’s Manx cat.
1898 Breed Standard – called “Points of Excellence”
They are written in my words with some quotes.
Head – the head should small and round. It should be wide across the eyes. The nose should be medium in length and the ears are small.
Eyes – there is no description except to say the colour of the eyes “should be as shown in other varieties”.
Fur – the fur is short, smooth, even and glossy. The coat colours and patterns are as for other short haired cats.
Tail – no tail at all….”thick stumps, knobs, or short, think tails disqualify.”
Size – large and elegant in movement.
Form – this refers to the body generally and is shows how things have changed over 115 years. I will quote:
“Narrow, long, neck long and thin, all to be graceful in line; shoulders narrow….forelegs medium length and thin; hind legs long in proportion and stouter built; feet round and small”
This is in stark contrast to the modern version of this cat that has almost opposite characteristics.
2013 CFA Breed Standard
At this point I will compare the above description with the modern version – the CFA breed standard (extracts):
”The overall impression…is that of roundness. Round head with firm round muzzle….substantial short front legs….rounded muscular thighs. Stout in appearance HEAD: round head….”
The modern day Manx cat characteristics are of a solid, stocky cat that is rounded in appearance with a slopping forward stance due to short front legs.
What has happened is that the cat fancy has exaggerated the profile of this cat over the years. The lack of a tail gave the cat a naturally more stocky (cobby) profile as the rear end looked rounded off. To enhance that feature cat breeders made the whole cat more rounded to distinguish it more effectively from the other breeds.
The original Manx was a standard moggie without a tail as you can see in the comparison picture.
The forward slopping stance affects the cat’s gait. It walks in a hop and is called the “rabbit” cat. This would not have happened in 1898. Update: Please see Sarah Hartwell’s comment which says the hopping gait is due to a nerve problem, which in turn is because of the presence of the gene that removes the tail.
Colours – Patterns
The Manx can be seen in a super wide range of coat types and colours.
As for personality, this cat is a single cat person; loyal and playful¹.
The strong rear legs allow this cat to jump better than other cat breeds. That is claimed. Personally, I would say it is probably untrue. Remember that length of leg is equally as important as strength for jumping skills and this cat has strong but average length hind legs. A F1 Savannah will beat a Manx any day.
Pet Quality Manx
Manx cats with short tails or with a tail are purebred but “pet quality“. They will be cheaper if you are buying.
Buyers should be aware of health problems caused by the gene that produces the tailless Manx. Read about them by clicking on this link.
- Legacy of the Cat