This is a page on the Manx Cat written for kids and people who like to read plain English and see good pictures.
The Manx is a cat breed that has been around for a long time. It is one of the first cat breeds. The cat comes from a small island, in the Irish Sea, that is between Northern Ireland and the north of England. It is called the Isle of Man. The Manx cat is famous because it has no tail. Sometimes, when people talk or write about a cat without a tail, they call the cat a Manx cat. This is wrong. Today, only cats without tails (tailless cats) that are recorded by a cat association can be called Manx cats. Although, if you saw a tailless cat on the Isle of Man you could call it a Manx cat!
The early history of the Manx cat is not clear. However, we do know that it comes from the Isle of Man and that it evolved from normal moggie cats on the island over a long time going back hundreds of years.
It may be that the first cats brought to the island came with ships as ships’ cats. Perhaps the Vikings brought the first cats to the island. We don’t know. But these first cats were probably normal cats with tails. Then over hundreds of years the first tailless cats were born on the island. Then more were born and gradually tailless cats became linked to the Isle of Man.
The Manx was a show cat in England in the late 19th century (1880s-1899). The Manx was brought to the United States and Canada in 1899. The big cat association, the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) accepted it as a cat breed in the 1920s. So you can see that the Manx has been around for a long time.
Why were tailless cats born from normal cats on the Isle of Man?
The answer is to do with how genes work. Genes are tiny particles inside the cells of an animal that control the way an animal looks and behaves. If one of these genes changes when it is duplicated it is called a “mutation”. A gene that has “mutated” can change the way an animal looks because it is a different gene. This is more likely to happen when cats are kept within an area. As the Isle of Man is quite small, the cats are kept within a small area. The cats mated with each other and this made the chance of a gene mutation having an effect on the cat’s appearance greater. The process is called the “founder effect”.
The Way The Manx Looks
You can see from the picture that the original Manx cat was more or less a normal looking moggie cat with a very short tail or with no tail at all. Over more than 100 years cat breeders changed the shape of the cat to one that is very rounded. Cat breeders call this a “cobby” body shape.
Cat breeders liked the idea of making the Manx rounder. This was probably because a cat without a tail looks more round anyway so why not make it even more round and therefore more interesting.
Cat breeders did this by choosing Manx cats with cobby bodies and putting them together to mate to produce kittens. The kittens were more rounded. If you keep on doing this for a long time you end up with a cat breed that has changed shape.
The Manx is a normal sized cat of between 8-12 pounds (3.5-5.5 kilograms). This cat can be seen in a huge range of different coat colors and patterns. There are over 350 different coat types for this cat. The coat is short in length. The face is the face of a typical British moggie cat.
Not all Manx cats have no tail. Some have very short tails and some normal tails. Only Manx cats with no tail or a tiny lump for a tail can be show cats. The others become pets. Manx cats with no tail are called “rumpies” by cat breeders.
The longhaired Manx is called a Cymric. It is the same cat except for longer fur.
If you mate a Manx with no tail with another Manx with no tail (two rumpies) you can create a kitten that dies inside the mother cat before birth. Or the kitten dies soon after being born with serious health problems. This is the way this particular gene mutation works, I am afraid. Cat breeders have to be careful.
The modern Manx leans slightly forward with hind legs longer than forelegs (legs at the front). This means that this cat tends to hop like a rabbit. The hind legs are very strong. The Manx is a good jumper and likes to be high up. This is a loyal and faithful cat breed that is probably better off in a single person home.