The Manx cat (/ËmÃ¦Åks/; Manx language: kayt Manninagh), in earlier times often spelled Manks, is a breed of domestic cat (Felis catus) originating on the Isle of Man, with a naturally occurring mutation that shortens the tail. Many Manx have a small stub of a tail, but Manx cats are best known as being entirely tailless; this is the most distinguishing characteristic of the breed, along with elongated hind legs and a rounded head. Manx cats come in all coat colours and patterns, though all-white specimens are rare, and the coat range of the original stock was more limited. Long-haired variants are sometimes considered a separate breed, the Cymric. Manx are prized as skilled hunters, and thus have often been sought by farmers with rodent problems, and been a preferred ship's cat breed. They are said to be social, tame and active. An old local term for the cats on their home island is stubbin. Manx have been exhibited in cat shows since the 1800s, with the first known breed standard published in 1903.
Â§Origin and folklore
Tailless cats, then called stubbin (apparently both singular and plural) in colloquial Manx language, were known by the early 19th century as cats from the Isle of Man (Mann), hence the name, where they remain a substantial but declining percentage of the local cat population. The taillessness arose as a natural mutation on the island, though folklore persists that tailless domestic cats were brought there by sea. They are descended from mainland stock of obscure origin. Like all house cats, including nearby British and Irish populations, they are ultimately descended from the African wildcat (F. silvestris lybica) and not from native European wildcats (F. s. silvestris), of which the island has long been devoid. In the Manx language, the modern name of the breed is kayt Manninagh literally 'cat of Mann' (plural kiyt) or kayt cuttagh lit. 'bob-tailed cat'. Manx itself was often spelled Manks well into the late 1800s. There are numerous folktales about the Manx cat, all of them of "relatively recent origin" as they are focused entirely on the lack of a tail, and are devoid of religious, philosophical, or mythical aspects found in the traditional Irishâ"Norse folklore of the native Manx culture, and in legends about cats from other parts of the world.
The dominant trait of taillessness arises from a spontaneous mutation, the Manx taillessness gene, that eventually became common on the island because of the limited genetic diversity of island biogeography (an example of the founder effect and, at the sub-specific level, of the species-area curve).
The name of the promontory Spanish Head on the coast of the island is often thought to have arisen from the local tale of a ship of the Spanish Armada foundering in the area, though there is no evidence to suggest this actually occurred. Folklore has further claimed that a tailless cat swam ashore from said shipwreck, to found the established breed. However, tailless cats are not commonly known in Spain, even if such a shipwreck were proven.
Regardless of the genetic and historical reality, there are various fanciful Lamarckian folktales that seek to explain why the Manx has a short to no tail. In one of them, the biblical Noah closed the door of the Ark when it began to rain, and accidentally cut off the tail of the Manx cat who had almost been left behind. Over the years a number of cartoons have appeared on postcards from the Isle of Man showing scenes in which a cat's tail is being run over and severed by a variety of means including a motorcycle, a reference to motorcycle racing being popular on the island, and an update of the Noah story. Because the gene is so dominant and "invades" other breeds when crossed (often without owner knowledge) with the Manx, some have believed that simply being in the proximity of a Manx cat could cause other breeds to somehow produce tailless kittens.
Another genetically impossible account claims that the Manx is the offspring of a cat and a rabbit, purporting to explain why it has no or little tail, long hind legs and a sometimes hopping gait. The cat-rabbit halfbreed tale has been further reinforced by the more widespread "cabbit" folktale.
Populations of tailless cats also exist in a few other places in Europe, most notably Cornwall, only 250 miles (400Â km) from Mann, an easy sail. A population on the small, isolated Danish peninsula (former island) of ReersÃ¸ in the Great Belt may be due to the arrival on the island of shipwrecked cats of Manx origin. Similar cats are also found in Crimea, a near-island Black Sea peninsula, though whether they are genetically related to maritime Manx cats or are a coincidentally similar result of insular genetic diversity limitations, like the unrelated Kuril Islands Bobtail, Karelian Bobtail and Japanese Bobtail, is unknown. The Manx gene may be related to the similarly dominant tail suppression gene of the recent American Bobtail breed, but Manx, Japanese Bobtails and other short-tailed cats are not used in its breeding program, and the mutation seems to have appeared in the breed spontaneously. Possible relation to the Pixie-bob breed, which also ranges from rumpy to fully tailed, is unknown.
Â§Recognition as a breed
Manx cats have been exhibited in cat shows, as a named, distinct breed (and with the modern spelling "Manx"), since at least the late 1800s. In that era, few shows provided a Manx division, and exhibited specimens were usually entered under the "Any Other Variety" class, where they often could not compete well unless "exceptionally good in size and markings". Early pet breeding and showing expert Charles Henry Lane, himself the owner of a prize-winning rare white rumpy Manx named "Lord Luke", published the first known (albeit informal) breed standard for the Manx in his 1903 Rabbits, Cats and Cavies, but noted that already by the time of his writing "if the judge understood the variety" a Manx would be clearly distinguishable from some other tailless cat being exhibited, "as the make of the animal, its movements and its general character are all distinctive." Not all cat experts of the day were favourable toward the breed; in The Cat: Its Points and Management in Health and Disease, Frank Townend Barton wrote in 1908: "There is nothing whatever to recommend the breed, whilst the loss of the tail in no way enhances its beauty."
The Manx was one of the first breeds recognised by the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) (the predominant United States-based pedigreed cat registry, founded in 1908), which has records on the breed in North America going back to the 1920s.
Â§Tail or lack thereof
Although tail suppression is not the sole characteristic feature of the breed, the chief defining one of the Manx cat is its absence or near-absence of a tail. This is a naturally occurring, cat body-type mutation of the spine, caused by a dominant gene. As with the sometimes-tail-suppressed Schipperke dog and Old English Sheepdog, tail suppression does not "breed true" in Manx cats. Attempting to force it to do so in the cats leads to negative, even fatal genetic disorders (see below). Tail length is random throughout a litter of kittens. Manx to non-Manx breeding will usually produce some Manx-type kittens; whether these are properly labeled Manx cats is up to the breed standard consulted. Manx cats are classified according to proportional tail length as kittens (the proportion does not change after birth):
- Rumpy (rumpie) or dimple rumpy â" having no tail at all, though often a tuft of hair where the tail would have grown from the rump
- Riser or rumpy riser â" having a bump of cartilage under the fur, most noticeable when the animal is happy and raising its tail end
- Stumpy (stumpie) â" having a partial tail of vestigial, fused vertebrae, up to about 3Â cm (1Â in) long
- Stubby (stubbie) â" having a short tail of non-fused bones, up to about half an average cat tail
- Longy (longie), tailed, or taily (tailie) â" having a half- to normal-length tail.
Since the early days of breed recognition, Manx show cats have been rumpy through stumpy specimens, with stubby and longy Manx not qualifying to be shown except in the "Any Other Variety" class. Kittens with complete tails may be born in a Manx or Manx-cross litter, having not inherited the taillessness gene at all; these are not classified as Manx cats by any breed standards, and cannot pass on the gene, since they do not possess it.
The Manx is easily distinguished from the Japanese Bobtail, which also has a mutation causing a short tail and elongated rear legs. The Bobtail always has a stumpy to stubby tail, which is kinked or curled and has a slightly bulbous appearance, while the Manx has a straight tail when one is present at all. The Bobtail is also triangular-faced and long-eared, with a long body, like many other Asian breeds, and is frequently all-white or mostly white calico, with one blue and one green eye, in pure-bred examples (virtually any coat pattern is possible in either breed, however). The gene responsible for the bobbed tail in the Japanese variety is a recessive, and unrelated to the Manx taillessness gene, which has been associated with a pattern of health issues. The Pixie-bob breed also has a short tail.
Manx (and other tail-suppressed breeds) do not exhibit problems with balance, since that sense is controlled primarily by the inner ear, and in cats, dogs and other large-bodied mammals has little to do with the tail (contrast rats, for whom the tail is a quite significant portion of their body mass).
With Manx kittens born with stubby or longer tails, Docking (surgical removal) of the tail a few days after birth was formerly common. Although illegal in many jurisdictions (including most of Europe) today, the practice was formerly recommended, although with the caveat that the commonness of the practice meant that many spurious Manx cats â" i.e., random British cats medically altered to look like Manx â" were on the market.
Â§Body and legs
Manx are small to medium-sized cats, broad-chested with sloping shoulders and flat sides, and in show condition are firmly muscular and lean, neither bulky nor fatty. Lane reported the original, native, naturally occurring pure breed as ranging typically from eight to ten pounds for males and six to eight pounds for females, with many smaller examples but only rare ones larger. The hind legs of Manx are notably longer than the fore legs, causing the rump to be higher than the shoulder and creating a continuous arch from shoulders to rump giving the cat an overall rounded or humped appearance, though the breed is comparatively long when stretched out. The fore legs are strong and straight. The shape is often described as rabbit-like.
Manx cats' heads are rounded in shape, and medium in depth with a long neck. The face is often very expressive, with a small nose. The upright, round-tipped and front-facing ears are largish. The eyes are large, rounded and prominent, with their outer corners higher than the inner ones. Absent any bloodlines with a dominant alternative eye color (such as blue in Siamese or related ancestry), Manx often have some hue variant of yellow ("gold") eyes, and for show purposes follow the eye colour standards of the same coat colour/pattern in non-Manx short-hairs.
Manx cats exhibit two coat lengths. Short- or long-haired, all Manx have a thick, double-layered coat. The colour and pattern ranges exhibited should conform to the standards for that type of coat in non-Manx.
The more common short-haired Manx â" the original breed â" has a coat with a dense, soft, under layer and a longer, coarse outer layer with guard hairs. The overall appearance of the coat is fine, short and lying close to the skin, versus fluffy or voluminous.
The long-haired Manx, known to some cat registries as the Cymric, has a silky-textured double coat of medium length, with "breeches", belly ruff and neck ruff, tufts of fur between the toes and full "ear furnishings" (hairs in ears). The CFA considers the Cymric to be a variety of Manx and judges it in the short-hair division even though it is long-haired, while The International Cat Association (TICA) judges it in the long-hair division as a distinct Cymric breed. The long-haired variety is of comparatively recent development. Lane wrote in 1903 that the Manx "to the best of my knowledge, information and belief, does not include any long-haired specimens", in his detailed chapter on the breed.
Regardless of coat length, the colours and coat patterns occurring in the breed today run the gamut of virtually all breeds due to extensive cross-breeding, though not all registries may accept all coats as qualifying for breeding or show. The most common coats are tabby, tortoiseshell, calico and solid colours. Widely divergent Manx specimens, including even a colour-point, blue-eyed, long-haired variant of evident Himalayan ancestry, have been celebrated on Isle of Man postage stamps since the 1980s, and recent publications often show marbled and spotted varieties. The original insular stock, however, were of less widespread variation. Lane, having "seen a great many of them" wrote of Manx cats that "[i]t is curious that the colours in this variety seem somewhat limited" and that the breed "does not comprise all the colours usually associated with other short-haired varieties". He reported only very common black, common black and white, common grey-striped tabby, uncommon tortoiseshell, and very rare all-white specimens in 1903. Calico and point-coloured are notably absent from this list, as are even today's common colourful tabbies. However, writing in England only five years later, Barton suggested that "the Manx may be of any colour, but probably black is the most frequently met with." According to CFA, entirely white Manx cats still remain extremely rare. In some cases, white Manx may be worth over US$4,000.
Specific registries have particular, and differing, standards of points with regard to coloration and patterning. For example, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) classifies the Manx as a variant of the British Shorthair (BSH), and thus requires that Manx cats to be registered with them have one of the coat patterns that would be permissible in the BSH rather than any that is exclusive to a "foreign" type. New Zealand Cat Fancy (NZCF) does likewise for colour and markings, but requires a double-coat and other Manx-specific features that GCCF does not. Some other registries are even more restrictive, while others are more liberal.
Four new, consistent varieties have been developed from the Manx (the original version of which is now sometimes consequently called the Shorthair Manx). These are the Cymric (Longhair Manx), the Isle of Man Shorthair and Isle of Man Longhair, and the Tasman Manx, though only the Cymric has garnered widespread acceptance in breed registries as of 2014.
Â§Cymric (Manx Longhair)
The Cymric or Manx Longhair is a tailless or partially tailed cat of Manx stock, with semi-long to long hair, e.g. as the result of cross-breeding with Himalayan, Persian and other longer-haired breeds early in its development. While its name refers to Wales (Cymru), the breed was actually developed in Canada, which has honoured the breed with a commemorative 50-cent coin in 1999.
Simply covering it in their Manx breed standards, the US-based Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA), the Co-ordinating Cat Council of Australia (CCCA), and the UK's Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) recognise the variety as a longer-haired Manx rather than "Cymric" (the CFA and CCCA call it the Manx Longhair, while GCCF uses the term Semi-longhair Manx Variant). The majority of cat registries have explicit Cymric standards (published separately or along with Manx). Of the major registries, only the Feline Federation Europe (FFE) does not recognise the breed or sub-breed at all, under any name, as of 2014 (their Manx standard was last update 17 May 2004).
Â§Isle of Man Shorthair (tailed)
Resembling the British Shorthair, the Isle of Man Shorthair is essentially a fully tailed Manx cat. That is, it is a cat of Manx stock, with Manx features, but without any expression of the Manx taillessness gene. As of March 2013, it is only recognised by New Zealand Cat Fancy (NZCF) with its own breed standard. Any coat colour and pattern acceptable in the IoM Shorthair (the same restriction applied to the NZCF Manx), but it requires the double coat of the Manx. In other international registries (e.g. GCCF, who also treat Manx as a British Shorthair variant), such cats are designated "Tailed Manx" and only recognised as Manx breeding stock (they are important as such, since breeding two tailless Manx together results in birth defects), and cannot be show cats.
Â§Isle of Man Longhair (tailed)
Essentially a fully tailed Cymric cat, i.e., a cat of Cymric (and thus Manx) stock, the Isle of Man Longhair has Cymric features, but without expression of the Manx taillessness gene. As of March 2013, it is only recognised as a separate breed by NZCF with a breed standard. Coat colours are limited to those acceptable in the British Shorthair, and requires the doubled and thick, long coat of the Cymric.
Â§Tasman Manx (curly-coated)
Named after Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand, the Tasman Manx is a tailless or partially tailed Manx cat with a curly-haired coat not unlike that of a Selkirk Rex, due a recessive mutation which arose in Manx litters in both Australia and New Zealand. As of March 2013, the breed is only recognised by the NZCF and the Catz Inc. registry (also of New Zealand) with breed standards. The coat may be short or semi-long.
The type arose possibly without existing rex mutation bloodlines (and none of the rex breeds are permitted as out-cross partners with Tasman Manx in Catz breeding guidelines). Depending on length of tail (if any) and coat, kittens may sometimes be termed "Tasman Cymric", "Tasman Isle of Man Shorthair" or "Tasman Isle of Man Longhair", but these are not considered separate breeds. The term "Tasman Rex" has been applied to cats with this gene that do not fall into one of the previously mentioned labels (lacking the Manx face and body shape to qualify), though relation if any to extant Rex mutation breeds is unclear. All of these additional terms beyond "Tasman Manx" appear to be "recognised", even promulgated by NZCF but without breed standards, and even the permissive Catz registry does not include them as of July 2014.
Â§Health and genetics
The Manx taillessness gene is dominant and highly penetrant; kittens from two Manx parents are generally born without any tail. Being homozygous for (having two copies of) the gene is usually lethal in utero, resulting in miscarriage. Thus, tailless cats can carry only one copy of the gene. Because of the danger of having two copies of the taillessness gene, breeders avoid breeding two entirely tailless Manx cats together. Because neither parent carries the tailless allele, a tailed Manx bred to a tailed Manx results in all tailed kittens. Breeders have reported all tail lengths in the same litter, and there is no accurate means to predict the ratio of tailed to tailless kittens produced in each litter.
Some partial tails are prone to a form of arthritis that causes the cat severe pain, and in rare cases Manx-bred kittens are born with kinked short tails because of incomplete growth of the tail during development; kittens with stumpy to long tails have sometimes been docked at birth as a preventative measure.
"Manx syndrome" or "Manxness" is a colloquial name given to the condition which results when the tailless gene shortens the spine too much. It can seriously damage the spinal cord and the nerves causing a form of spina bifida as well as problems with the bowels, bladder, and digestion. Very small bladders are indicative of the disease and it is often difficult to diagnose. Death can occur quite suddenly and some live for only 3â"4 years; the oldest recorded was 5 years when affected with the disease. In one study it was shown to affect about 30% of Manx cats, but nearly all of those cases were rumpies, which exhibit the most extreme phenotype. Such problems can be avoided by breeding rumpy Manx cats with stumpy specimens and this breeding practice is responsible for a decline in spinal problems among modern, professionally bred Manx cats today. Most pedigreed cats are not placed until four months of age (to make sure that they are properly socialised) and this usually also gives adequate time for any such health problems to be identified. Renowned feline expert Roger Tabor has stated: "Only the fact that the Manx is a historic breed stops us being as critical of this dangerous gene as of other more recent selected abnormalities." The breed is also predisposed to rump fold intertrigo and corneal dystrophy.
Some tailless cats such as the Manx cats may develop megacolon which is a recurring condition causing constipation that can be life-threatening to the cat if not properly monitored. It is a condition in which, due to absence of a tail, the smooth muscle that normally contracts to push stools toward the rectum loses its ability to do so.
As with all cat breeds, the cat fancy has arrived through observation at a variety of generalisations about the Manx breed as a whole. No scientific studies have yet been done to prove these assumptions, even on average, but they are widely held. The Manx is considered a social and gregarious feline, and very attached to humans, but also shy of strangers. The breed is said to be highly intelligent, playful, and in its behaviour reminiscent of dogs. For example, like some Maine Coons and a few other breeds, Manx cats often learn to fetch small thrown objects. They may also follow their owners about like puppies, and are believed to be better able to learn simple verbal commands than most cats.
Many of these views of the breed are not known to have a very long pedigree. Lane's early and experienced account of the temperament of this "variety, which is quaint and interesting" is simply that they are "docile, good-tempered and sociable", and that a prize specimen should be "an alert, active animal of much power and energetic character."
Manx are prized as hunters, known to take down larger prey even when they are young. They have long been sought as mousers by farmers. A strong preference for them as ship's cats is thought to be responsible for the world-wide spread (port to port) of what originated as a very limited, insular breed.
Although all cats, including the great cats, may use both rear legs simultaneously to propel the body forward, especially when moving quickly, Manx cats are often said to move with more of a rabbit-like hop than a stride even when not running.
Â§In popular culture
Â§Isle of Man national symbol
The Isle of Man uses the Manx cat as one of the symbols of the island nation and its unique culture. On Isle of Man currency, Manx cats are the subject of the reverse of four special commemorative crown coins. The first two, issued in 1970 and 1975, are stand-alone releases in both copper-nickel and silver proofs, while the third, in 1988, inaugurated an ongoing series of annual cat coin issues that have also been produced in gold in various sizes; an almost-hidden Manx cat appears in the background on each of the 1989-onward releases featuring other breeds. A Manx, with a kitten, was the featured cat again in 2012. A Manx cat, stylized Celtic knotwork art, also appears on the island's 1980â"83 penny. The breed figures on numerous Isle of Man postage stamps, including a 2011 series of 6 that reproduce the art from Victorian era Manx cat postcards, a 1996 one-stamp decorative sheetlet, one stamp in a 1994 tourism 10-stamp booklet, a 1996 five-stamp series of Manx cats around the world, and a 1989 set of the breed in various coat patterns, plus two high-value definitives of 1983 and 1989. The cat appears prominently as the subject of a large number of tourist goods and Manx pride items available on the island and over the Internet, serving (along with the triskelion) as an emblem of the Isle of Man.
Â§Famous real-world Manx cats
- Koko, a gorilla renowned for communicating in rudimentary American Sign Language, has had three Manx (All Ball, Lipstick and Smokey) as companion animals.
- Bob, the subject of Bob the Preschool Cat: A Biography of an Urban Manx Cat by E. Romayne Hertweck (2009, ISBN 978-1-4327-3555-5)
Â§Fictional Manx cats
- Bluebeard, from the German animated film Felidae (1994)
- Gordon from the American animated TV series Catscratch (2005â"2007)
- Ma Manx, matriarch of a crime gang in the children's novel Rex Tabby: Cat Detective by Daniel Kirk (2004, ISBN 978-0-439-45286-1)
- Mac Manc McManx, a recurring guest character in the American daily comic strip Get Fuzzy (1999â"present)
- Mayor Manx from the American animated TV series SWAT Kats (1993â"1995)
- Manx, the antagonist to Slimer, of Slimer! and the Real Ghostbusters (1988â"1991)
- Manx Cat, the antagonist for the bulk of Paul Gallico's children's novel Manxmouse: The Mouse Who Knew No Fear (1968, ISBN 978-0-698-10237-8) and the 1979 Japanese anime based on it
- Manx McCatty from Christopher Reed's children's book The Big Scratch (1988, ISBN 978-0-345-35391-7)
- Marco the Manx from Joann Roe's series of children's books, Fisherman Cat (1988, ISBN 978-0-931551-02-4), Castaway Cat (1989, ISBN 978-0-931551-03-1), Alaska Cat (1990, ISBN 978-0-931551-05-5) and Samurai Cat (1993, ISBN 978-0-931551-08-6)
- Max from Adam Whitmore's "Max the Cat" 1986 series of children's books, Max Leaves Home (ISBN 978-0-382-09243-5), Max in America (ISBN 978-0-382-09244-2), Max in India (ISBN 978-0-382-09245-9) and Max in Australia (ISBN 978-0-382-09246-6)
- Mika, title character of the children's book Mika the Manx Cat by D. M. Hart (2012, ISBN 978-0-61567-18-95)
- Narrator, an orange Manx, in the children's book The Cats of Grand Central by Laura Archibald, illustrated by Garner Beckett (2003, ISBN 978-0-9730951-0-4)
- Olaf, protagonist of Olaf Comes Home by Kathy Dollina Creamer (2001, ISBN 978-1-873120-15-6), a children's book modeled on "The Ugly Duckling"
- Raffles, Bernie Rhodenbarr's Manx cat in Lawrence Block's "Burglar" series of mystery novels, first appearing in The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams (1994, ISBN 978-0-525-93807-1)
- Stimpson "Stimpy" J. Cat, one of the two main characters of the American animated TV series The Ren and Stimpy Show (1991â"1996)
- Tiara Boobowski was planned to be a Manx cat character in Sonic the Hedgehog game Sonic X-Treme but the game was cancelled.
The Norton Manx motorcycle line (1947â"1962, Norton Motors Ltd.), though ostensibly named after the Isle of Man TT road race (which the brand dominated for decades, until the 1970s), was long promoted with Manx cat badges, in the forms of both enameled metal pins and sew-on patches. The Manx Norton has experienced a major revival among modern enthusiasts of classic motorcycle racing.
The Meyers Manx (1964â"1971, B. F. Meyers & Co.) is the original (much-copied), iconic Volkswagen Beetle-based dune buggy, and broke desert racing records shortly after its introduction. It was named after the cat, due to its design â" short-bodied, tall-wheeled, and manoeuvrable. The original designer has revived and updated it as the "Manxter" (2000â"present, Meyers Manx, Inc.).
A popular flying model aircraft of the late 1950s was the Manx Cat, sold in kit form in various versions. The biplane model was profiled in hobbyist magazines, like the February 1957 Flying Models and October 1958 American Modeler, and remains a sought-after collectors' item in online auctions.
A Grimjack comic book story, The Manx Cat, was serialised as a Comicmix.com webcomic in January 2011, and has since seen print as a six-issue miniseries by IDW Comics. The story involves "The Manx Cat", a statuette of such a cat that at first seems to be a simple MacGuffin like the classic Maltese Falcon of novel and films of that name, but which begins showing malevolent powers. The plot thickens with time travel, reincarnation, and Cthulhu Mythos-style "elder gods". Like most modern comics, it features digitally-colored art, over hand-drawn pencil work.
- The Manx Breed Council