Cymric cat – the cobbiest of all cat breeds

The Cymric is the most cobby of all the purebred cats. Cobby in the cat fancy means “a compact body shape”1. See Cat Body Types and Glossary of Cat Terms. It is “at the absolute extreme of the cobby body”2.

Cymric cat collage
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Here are four splendid photographs of the Cymric cat, the long-haired Manx. Actually, the hair looks at most semi-long to me but it should be very dense and plush. If you are describing the Manx, you are also describing the Cymric and vice versa. They are the same except for hair length.

Although the bodies are very short, breeders try to avoid breeding cats with bodies that are too short. When viewed from above the stomach area should be of a good size.

This cat tends to lean forward as the hind legs are longer than the forelegs. This also encourages a hopping gait, which is why it is sometimes referred to as “the rabbit cat”. The hindquarters are said to be “extremely powerful”2.  This allows for excellent jumping skills. As a result, they like high perches. Tails are used for balance. For the Cymric and Manx, the strength in the hind legs take over this role. This breed is very playful and has a fine turn of speed. They are said to be loyal to one person. That is obviously qualified by differences in the character of individual cats.

Some additional information added on Jan 31, 2022:

Note: there will be some overlap with the above.

In terms of appearance, this cat is described as “cobby” by the cat fancy. It means stocky, rounded and compact. The face is quite rounded as well. In all domestic cats the hind legs are longer than the forelegs but in the Cymric cat this is exaggerated which causes the rump to be higher than the shoulders. It is said that the back “forms a continuous arch from shoulders to rump”2.

Both the Cymric and Manx were created through a spontaneous genetic mutation on the Isle of Man, which is a closed environment. This is quite a small island about 30 miles long. Because the cats were contained the mutation was able to flourish. It’s called the “founders effect”. There are stories of the cat being imported onto the island. What I mean is that a trading ship had a ship’s cat without a tail and it was imported to the island and that individual cat is the foundation cat for the Manx. I disagree with this. The taillessness was caused by a mutation which happened to occur on the island.

The taillessness gene is dominant. It also determines the length of the spinal column. If the spinal column is too short, kittens can be born with an open spine, the kitten lacks control of their bowel or bladder and they have weak hindquarters 2. This is spina bifida. This makes breeding of this cat questionable. When the Manx gene is homozygous (inherited from both parents) it is lethal, causing death in the womb.

The size of Manx and Cymric litters is very small since 1/4 of the litter conceived from Cymric-to-Cymric matings are lost. Both Manx and Cymric are heterozygote (possessing only one Manx gene). The Manx gene can also affect other areas of the body other than the tail and result in abnormalities.

Both the Cymric and Manx have the shortest, most cobby bodies of all the cat breeds.

The 1960s, the breed standard was strict in that no hint of a tail was allowed. Judges were instructed to put a finger into the indentation where the tail would have been. Nowadays the standard is more lenient. It allows for a very slight “riser”. This is a small stump.

In terms of coat type, both the Manx and the Cymric are shown all colours, all categories and all divisions. The result: more than 350 colours and patterns. If you include bicolours the number goes to 700.

Both the Cymric and Manx are said to be playful and excellent jumpers thanks to their powerful hindquarters. They love to be on a high perch. The hind legs are used for stability where a cat with a tail would use their tail for that purpose. They make excellent companions and tend to be loyal to one person.

As at 2022, it seems that there are breed standards for the Cymric in no less than 14 different cat associations in the world. Clearly, this is a fully accepted cat breed but a relatively rare one nonetheless.

Arguably, this is not a separate breed from the Manx because the only difference is the length of the coat. Therefore, the Cymric could be categorised as a different variety of the Manx breed.

The name originates in the Welsh word Cymru meaning ‘Wales’ in English. Wales is quite close to the Isle of Man.

The popularity of the Cymric increased when, in 1960s, kittens with the same appearance were born in Canada and they were intentionally bred. Although the Manx was recognised in 1920s, the Cymric did not become popular until the mid-1970s.


1. Robinson’s Genetics for Cat Breeders and Veterinarians
2. Legacy of the Cat by Gloria Stephens and Tetsu

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