Why does the Manx cat have no tail?

Manx cat black and white cat
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Manx cat black and white cat

Although there are ten imaginative hypotheses as to why Manx cats have no tails, there is one genuine and less colourful reason which is that the Manx gene cropped up spontaneously as a naturally occurring mutation on the Isle of Man centuries ago. This gene became established because of prolonged inbreeding amongst the tailless cats because they were confined to a small island. I call this the island effect. When cats are forced together like this any genetic mutation becomes fixed (effectively causing “genetic drift”) and a new breed of cat is created entirely naturally without the intervention of people. It is the best way.

Manx Cat Facts In Plain Language

Manx Cat Facts In Plain Language. Photos of modern Manx cats copyright Helmi Flick. Original Manx in public domain. Map from Wikimedia Commons. Collage by Michael at PoC.

That is the answer so there is nothing more to say. For the sake of completeness I’ll mention some of the crazy theories.

  • The Manx cat is the result of a mating between a rabbit and a domestic cat. This impossible hypothesis comes from (1) the taillessness and (2) the Manx cat’s hopping gait. However, if a Manx cat hops when they walk it will be due to a spinal deformity which is linked to this genetic mutation.
  • The first Manx cat was a random bred cat with a tail who got his/her tail stuck in the door of Noah’s Ark as they rushed on, the last to come aboard.
  • Several tailless cats were aboard a ship from the Spanish Armada. The ship was shipwrecked off the coast of the Isle of Man in 1588. The cats clambered ashore and started to bred forming the colony of tailless cats we know.
  • The first tailless cats on the Isle and Man came from the Orient 2000 years ago. This is based on the theory that Japanese Bobtail cats were on trading ships and started a new breed, the Manx. This is unsupported by the unrelated nature of the breeds genetically.
Original early Manx cats

Original early Manx cats. Pictures in public domain.

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The Isle of Man is plumb dead in-between Northern Ireland on the west and the north of England on the east. It is a self-governing dependency. Some rich people live there to legally avoid paying UK tax rates. It is 572 square kilometres in size (around 30 miles by 20 miles).

The Manx cat has become a popular emblem for the island appearing on stamps and coins. The Manx government set up a Manx cat breeding cattery with 30 females and 3 males at Noble’s Park in the capital Douglas. The purpose: to ensure the breed did not die out. It was opened to the public in July 1964 but I don’t think it is open today.

Some more on the Manx

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Are Manx cats’ tails docked?

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Are Manx cats born without tails?

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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