The Manx is a breed of cat distinguished by little to no tail. The short-to-nonexistent tail comes from a naturally occurring mutation of the spine. The cat originated on the Isle of Man (thus the name), and is called “stubbin” in the Manx language. The breed is at least 300 years old. The manx gene is dominant; one copy of the gene will give a kitten no tail, two copies are lethal. By breeding tailless cats with tailed ones, this problem can be avoided.
Manx kittens are classified by tail length, which is random throughout a litter. A tailed or longy Manx has a complete, or almost complete tail. Stumpy means the Manx has a partial tail (sometimes kinked). Riser or rumpy riser means the kitten has a stub of cartilage or several vertebrae under the fur that is noticeable when the cat is raising its “tail”. Dimple rumpy or rumpy means that the Manx has no tail whatsoever. The rumpy is the ideal show Manx; stumpy and tailed Manx are not accepted as show cats. Some kittens with stumpy or full tails have been docked at birth as a preventative measure because some partial tails have been prone to arthritis that causes severe pain for the cat. Manx Syndrome is a name given to the condition which results from the spine being too short (when the tailless gene shortens it too much). This condition can damage the nerves and spinal cord, leading to problems with digestion and the bladder. The longest recorded lifespan of a cat with Manx Syndrome is 5 years.
Manx cats can be either long or short-haired. The long-haired Manx (known as a Cymric) has a medium length silky double coat. The short-haired Manx also has a double coat with a thick under-layer and a longer coarse outer-layer. The front legs of a Manx are shorter than its hind legs, which creates a rounded appearance.
There are many legends that attempt to explain the lack of tail on the Manx cat. One legend claims that the Manx is the offspring of a cat and a rabbit, which explains both the long legs and lack of tail. Some postcards from the Isle of Man depict a scene of a cat’s tail being run over by a motorcycle, because motorcycle racing is so popular on the island. Another story is that Noah closed the door of the ark on the Manx’s tail when it began to rain; supposedly the Manx had been playing and almost got left behind.