Manx Cats and Poop

Manx cat
Manx cat. Photo: copyright Helmi Flick.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Spina bifida, which is part of a bundle of illnesses called “Manx Syndrome” can affect Manx cats (“is common in Manx cats¹”). Amongst other things Spina bifida causes faecal incontinence – the cat cannot keep the anus closed. Some Manx are also urine incontinent. Some have recurring constipation with megacolon. Other possible problems with spina bifida are:

  • hind limb weakness
  • hind limb incoordination
  • the cat hops rather than runs.

The constipation causes straining which means the Manx is predisposed to rectal prolapse. The rectal tissue is red and swollen.

I have a problem with Gloria Stephens who writes in her book, Legacy of the Cat, that the Manx is known as the “rabbit” cat, because it hops just like a rabbit. This is mentioned as an interesting characteristic of this breed when it is a symptom of a serious medical condition, which, incidentally, she does not refer to.

Spina bifida is a malformation of the vertebrae and the spinal cord due to a lack of fusion of the neural tube and vertebral arches at the sacrococcygeal junction. Normally skin covers the defect  but not always.

There is no cure for spina bifida.

Another health problem is atresia ani. This is an anus that is closed because a membrane covers the anal opening. The rectum ends as a blind pouch rather the anus. The sphincter muscle may also be poorly developed. An operation is required.

Although not related to pooping, the Manx may also suffer from these conditions:

  • corneal dystrophy  –  a genetic disease that affects the cornea of the eye, and
  • pyoderma – a skin disease (at the site of the infolding skin where the tail should be).

Elisa (who gave me the idea for this page) made this comment on the Manx cat characteristics page:

Every tailless 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?

General Source: Various websites for background and Medical & Behavioral Aspects of Purebred Cats edited by Ross Clark DVM.

Ref: 1.

3 thoughts on “Manx Cats and Poop”

  1. I have read about SB – I even followed the story of Dot who is or was at Tabby’s Place.

    This article is actually very sad – it makes me very sad reading about the endless horrible conditions that have been bred into these cats. Usually a cat with no tail or a short tail in the world of moggies is a problem. A friend’s cat had a short tail and took a year to gain control over he bowels – I’m glad they stuck with it and had faith in her. She is fine and happy now.

    But that it be done on purpose is another thing altogether. In some ways this is far worse than any form of animal abuse because it results in the immediate killing of or the lifetime of pain and discomfort – of more purposefully damaged cats whilst others are in shelters.

    It’s all so wrong and sad. If I had a kitten with these problems I would probably spend many heartbreaking years helping him or her to be as happy and comfortable as possible – and all that time I would be so angry at the people who did this. I can’t stand to see a cat deal with incontinence. It’s very hard for the cat I believe. Poor things destined to a difficult life. It has to stop.


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