Manx Cat Characteristics

Manx Cat Characteristics

Manx Cat Characteristics. Top photo is copyright Helmi Flick. The 1900s cat would not have been a successful show cat judging by the tail.

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.


  1. Legacy of the Cat
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Manx Cat Characteristics — 8 Comments

  1. Every tail-less cat I’ve ever had experienced problems in the litter box. Poop wouldn’t finish pooping to put it bluntly. Almost like the tail pumping action completed the final step in exiting the body. The cats who had a very short tail had no problem. Has anyone else had this issue?

    • I hadn’t heard that. Interesting. I’ll investigate it. It may be due to anomalies in the spine (and intestines), which may affect the peripheral nerves that control the intestines that ejects feces. I’ll get back on that.

        • I am the proud owner of a beautiful Manx. Her name is Luna. She is two years old and since she was younger, she’s had issues with her bowel movements. I believe it is the lack of a tail. She no tail at all, not even a nub. She will use the bathroom in the little box, but when she exits she leaves me little presents throughout the house. I have termed them “Luna’s Nuggets”. It will always be a single nugget that she leaves. I have witnessed her after she leaves the box. She will walk and notice something didn’t come out, she cleans herself and there you have it. Nugget gets left behind. The Vet told me that this is a very common problem. But I must say, she is a very elegant kitty. I love to watch her walk, jump and climb. She amazes me.

          • Thank you for commenting and telling us about your Manx cat. As you say, they can health problems and the issue that you mention is probably, as you state, due to the genetic abnormality inherited. I have a page on the Manx cat which refers to health issues so you might like to read that or perhaps you already have.

            Click on this link:


  2. This makes me wonder about the cloweder of Manx my mom’s cat Fluffy came from. Her older uncles/fathers (my aunt was a cat hoarder so there were many, many cats) were very large cats with medium-long grey hair and short tufts on their ears. They did have the rounded heads and no tails to speak of at all. I wondered why they stuck their behinds in the air when they walked, but don’t recall if they had the bunny walk or not. (I was 4 or 5 at the time) Either way I remember they moved elegantly and with purpose. I only wish I could of pet one of them. The tufts make me wonder if they were moggies. I just realized, they were my first HUGE cats! I was in awe of this huge group of giants. So big they made an adult raccoon look like tiny. (I LOVE big domestic cats — the bigger the better.)

    Love the pix. Thanks!

  3. The rabbity gait was a breed requirement in the early days. If you read early cat breeder literature (mine goes back to the 1870s) you’ll find it described along with a requirement for the hind legs to be longer than the forelegs to give a raised rump (the 1900 cat has longer hind legs, but this is not shown to best effect with its posture in the photo). In those early days, the hopping gait was a way of distnguishing between a genuine Manx and a faked Manx. Faking was common and lucrative in the early days of the cat fancy resulting in many docked cats being shown and sold as Manxes. The rabbity gait continued to be a breed requirement and was documented by PM Soderbergh in the 1950s. The preference for a hopping gait was eventually removed from the breed standard when it was realised that this was due to abnormalities of the nerves tht controlled the hind legs (possibly as late as the 1980s). Hope this helps.

    • Thanks Sarah. Your comment is very much appreciated. So, the hopping gait was because of a defect in the nerves that controlled the hind legs. The defect was caused by the genetic mutation that removed the tail but also affected the spine and other nerves.

      I have updated the page slightly to take account of your comment.

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