Made unique by its small or lacking tail, Manx is a cat breed that belongs to the Isle of Man, next to Britain, where it has resided for many centuries. A number of legends afloat as regards the origin of this cat, with many stories being part of the local culture. Some believe these cats were brought to the island by one of the many ships that passed through that region, whereas others consider the animals to be native to that part of the world. The most widely accepted theory is that Manx cats originated from a genetic mutation in the local felid population. Owing to the island's isolation and the dominant nature of the altered gene, the trait spread among cats and perpetuates to this day. They continue to be formally bred in many parts of the world and are recognized widely by cat fanciers.
Manx cats have a round stocky physique. They are medium in size and weigh around ten pounds on average. Hind legs are longer than fore legs and flanks are deep. Head, eyes and cheeks are all circular and alongside the furnishings on the tapering ears, give the cats a very sweet expression. Coat is double layered and short. Longhaired version of the Manx is called Cymric - essentially the same cat but with a longer fur. Not all registration bodies accept Cymrics though and they are often grouped alongside the shorthair felines in the Manx breed.
The tail, or the lack of it, is the hallmark feature of the Manx. It is either completely absent, in which case there is a small rump or indentation at the termination of spine, or occurs in differing lengths. Not all Manx have a short tail, except for the ones allowed in competitions. In fact breeders cross tailless cats with the ones having normal tails to produce a mixed litter. This is owing to the fact that if two 'rumpy' cats are allowed to continuously breed, they eventually produce litters with severely deformed kittens. Vertebrae are often missing or fused and lead to severe pain, neurological problems or death. This was seen quite often some decades ago, however breeders today have been able to eliminate this tragic anomaly to some extent. Even still it is always best to wait till four months of age before adopting a Manx kitten, to allow time for the development of the 'Manx Syndrome'. Many breeders continue to dock kitten tails in infancy owing to cosmetic reasons and the belief that they may lead to arthritis and severe pain for the slowly maturing cat as it reaches full development by five years of age.
Generally though Manx are healthy cats who lead a normal life of a fifteen to twenty years span. They are balanced and agile despite the absence of tail and are actually fairly adept hunters.
The author is a blogger about cats and an expert on Manx cat.