rec.pets.cats: Manx Breed-FAQ
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Last-modified: 12 Mar 1997
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MANX BREED FAQ
Jean Brown - Romanxx Cattery
Paul Osmond - Wild No Tail Cattery
Marj Baker - Sansq Cattery
Sam Cuttell - Rumplestump Cattery
Copyright (c) 1994, 1995 Jean Brown, Paul Osmond, Marj Baker and Sam
Cuttell, All Rights Reserved.
* CHARACTERISTICS AND TEMPERAMENT
* SPECIAL MEDICAL PROBLEMS
* FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The Manx is a stocky, solid cat with a dense double coat (long or
short), a compact body, very short back, hind legs that are visibly
longer than the front legs, big bones, a wide chest, and greater depth
of flank (sides of the cat nearest the rear) than other cats. The
standard weight for males is 10-12 lbs. and for females is 8-10 lbs.
The Manx head is broad-jowled with round eyes, and the ear-set is
distinct to the breed--when viewed from the back, the ears and the top
of the head form a "cradle" or "rocker" shape. The ears themselves are
broad at the base and taper to a narrower, rounded tip. This is the
general appearance of all Manx cats, regardless of whether they are
show-quality or not.
Although the completely tailless, or "rumpy," Manx is the desired show
type, Manx may also have tails. A litter of kittens may include a
rumpy, a "riser" (has a bit of cartilage at the base of the spine,
under the skin, that may be felt when the cat is happy), a "stumpy"
(any tail length not long, but visibly a tail), and a "longy," and all
are Manxes. Only rumpy and riser Manx may be shown in American
competition, and the riser's cartilage must not stop the judge's hand
when the back is stroked.
Whatever the tail length, all the other physical characteristics will
be present - roundness of head and body, cradle-set ears, broad chest,
deep flank. In fact, the tailed Manx are necessary for the healthy
continuation of the breed. The tailless gene, a dominant gene, is
lethal when breeding rumpies to each other into or beyond the third
generation. The breeder continues to use tailed cats in the breeding
program to insure strong kittens and to reduce the possibility of
genetic deformity. See SPECIAL MEDICAL PROBLEMS.
The most striking feature of the show-quality Manx is the complete
lack of a tail. Indeed, the best Manx has a slight indentation at the
base of the spine where the tail would begin--a "dimple." The breed
standard against which a show-quality Manx is judged continuously uses
the word "round" to describe the Manx--round body, round eyes, round
rump, round head, even round paws. The impression that you get when
looking at the Manx is of a hairy basketball with legs. Balance is
important, as well, with all that roundness. The Manx needs
proportion, or it will be a fat, furry lump. All parts of the body
should "go together"--so that what you see isn't a "head" or a "body"
but a complete cat. The short back should rise in a continuous curve
to the rump, and the long back legs complete that rounded picture. The
head shouldn't be too large for the body, nor the chest too broad for
Manx cats come in every color and pattern, though the pointed, or
Himalayan, pattern is not accepted in all associations. You will see
classic and mackerel tabby Manx, tortoiseshell Manx, calico and
solid-color and bi-color Manx; and the color possibilities cover the
range of red, blue, cream, brown, black, and white.
Manx coats can be either longhair or shorthair. CFA has recently made
the longhair and the shorthair Manx two divisions of the breed,
eliminating the former name "Cymric" for the longhair, while other
associations, such as TICA, have retained the Cymric name for their
long-haired Manx. Longhairs still have a double coat, but the outer
coat is of a semi-long length. It doesn't require the daily brushing
of a Persian, but needs more care than the shorthair coat does. All
colors and patterns exist in both coat lengths.
There are a number of mythical tales surrounding the origins of the
Manx, such as that Noah cut off its tail with the door of the Ark as
the rain began to fall. In actuality, Manx cats originated on the Isle
of Man, off the coast of Great Britain, among a population of cats
whose common ancestry sprang from the same roots as the British
Shorthair. A spontaneous mutation occurred at some point several
hundred years ago, which created kittens born without the vertebrae
that form the tail of normal cats. With the passage of centuries and
due to the isolation of the cats from outside breeding, the
taillessness eventually became a common characteristic among the Isle
of Man cats, because the mutated gene is a dominant trait.
The original Isle of Man Manx was a rangier cat than the standard used
today, but the basics were there--deep flanks, long back legs, sturdy
body. Through careful, deliberate breeding programs, the size of the
cat has increased, and the short-backed, broad-chested and stocky cat
that we see now became the desired type.
MYTHOLOGY AND FOLKLORE OF THE MANX
Many stories of the origin of the Manx are found in cat and mythology
books. In many of these tales the Manx are descended from ship's cats
who were shipwrecked on the Isle of Man when their ships were sunk off
the coast. A commonly told story is the legend from the early 1600s of
two ships from the Spanish Armada that were sunk off Spanish Point
near Port Erin. The Isle of Man was the refuge for the tailless cats
from these two ships. Another legend has it that the cat came from a
ship wrecked in 1806 off Jurby Point, while another says it was a
Baltic ship wrecked off Castle Rushen and Calf Island.
Early speculation considered the Annamite cats to be the beginning of
the Manx, these cats having short tails. They were introduced into
Burma. Others felt the Manx may be descended from Siam and Malaya. The
Malaya Archipelago cats have kinked, knotted and short tails.
The Welsh also lay claim to the Manx in their legends and the people
considered them sacred animals in early times.
British folklore has it that mom cats bit off their kittens' tails to
keep humans from snatching them away.
Stumpy tailed cats in New Guinea sometimes get their tails docked by
their owners. If a cat is stolen the tail is buried with certain
spells to bring misfortune on the thief.
The truth is that short-tailed and tailless cat are seen the world
over, the result of a genetic mutation. Japanese Bobtails have short
kinked tails and a less stocky body than the Manx. Other breeds of
cats occasionally produce a kitten with a missing tail. The Manx,
however, is the only cat that is bred to be tailless.
CHARACTERISTICS AND TEMPERAMENT
The Manx is a mellow, even-tempered cat, friendly and affectionate.
Its origins as a "working" cat are still strongly seen in the breed,
and any Manx which lives an outdoor or outdoor/indoor life is a
fierce, dedicated hunter. Many people call the Manx the "dog cat"
because of its strong desire to be with its people. Manx cats will
follow you about the house, "helping" with whatever you happen to be
doing at the moment. Manx cats are not prone to restive movement, and
even kittens like to curl up in a lap for a nap. Manx do like to get
on things, and if you're looking for your cat, look about the room at
eye-level (yours, not the cat's) on tables and the backs of chairs and
on bookcases. Chances are, you'll spot your cat pretty quickly.
The Manx voice is usually very quiet for its size. Even a female in
full-blown heat doesn't make very much noise at all. The Manx has a
distinct "trill" which you most often hear from females talking to the
kits, but with which they will reply to their people's verbalizations
as well. Your Manx *will* talk to you.
The "watch Manx" is a sight to behold: Many Manx are very protective
of their home and any unusual noise or disturbance will cause a low
growl and even an attack by a Manx that is very protective. Strange
dogs are especially a target of attack.
Manx make good pets for younger children if they grow up with them,
because of their even-temperedness. An older Manx may have some
difficulty adjusting to the noise and quickness of children, however,
since Manx generally prefer a quiet, settled environment. If your home
is a quiet one, you'll find that your young Manx quickly becomes
accustomed to that peace and quiet, and simply slamming a door may
startle the cat. For the most part, though, Manx aren't timid cats,
and will place a lot of confidence in their people's reaction to
events. A Manx that has been raised in a family environment will
transfer easily to another home and remain a happy, playful cat.
If you decide on a show cat, you'll find that most Manx adjust well to
the activity of the show hall, if you begin showing them at the kitten
stage. Some Manx actually love the attention they receive at a show,
and enjoy meeting new people. It is rare for a Manx to "play" on the
judging table however much they might chase toys and race about in
your home. They much prefer "kissing up" to the judge, and will
deliver "head-butts" to any judge who places his/her face within
Manx, unlike many breeds, may be shown for years - as long as they are
willing to go and enjoy it, as a matter of fact. This is because the
Manx matures slowly, and may take as long as five years to reach full
growth and potential. This means that you may get many years of
showing enjoyment out of your Manx, and it is conceivable that your
cat could win more than one regional/national title as it gets better
and better with the passing of time.
Male and female Manx show equally well in the premiership classes, as
both may attain the roundness and "type" for top show ability. In the
championship classes, males may have the edge over the females, as the
whole queen will come into heat often when shown, and this can cause
her temperament to be uneven. Whole males generally maintain a more
even disposition, although a male used often as a stud may develop a
testiness as time goes by, especially in early spring shows when
females come into season.
In choosing a show kitten, rely on the breeder to point out likely
kittens. About 80 percent of the time, the promising kitten becomes
the excellent adult. There are exceptions, of course, especially after
the cat has been spayed/neutered, when the so-so kitten develops into
a surprisingly winning cat. This is one thing that makes cat showing
thrilling, though, when that occasional "surprise" comes along and
brightens your life.
SPECIAL MEDICAL PROBLEMS
Manx Syndrome is a normally fatal defect caused by the so-called Manx
gene, which causes the taillessness. The gene's action in shortening
the spine may go too far, resulting in severe spinal defects--a gap in
the last few vertebrae, fused vertebrae, or spina bifida in newborns.
If there is no obvious problem with a Manx Syndrome kitten at birth,
the difficulties will show up in the first few weeks or months of the
cat's life, usually in the first four weeks, but sometimes as late as
four months. It is often characterized by severe bowel and/or bladder
dysfunction, or by extreme difficulty in walking.
Breeders of Manx will generally not let kittens leave the cattery
until they have reached four months of age because of the possibility
of Manx Syndrome appearing. In most cases, however, experience will
point to a problem in a kitten long before the kit is four months old.
Rarely will a breeder have no suspicion of anything wrong and have the
Manx Syndrome appear.
Manx Syndrome may occur even in a carefully bred litter, but is more
likely in the instance when a rumpy is bred to a rumpy in or beyond
the third generation. For this reason, the breeder carefully tracks
rumpy to rumpy breedings, and uses tailed Manx regularly in the
breeding program. Generally speaking, a sound breeding between a
tailed Manx and a rumpy Manx should produce a litter that is 50%
tailed and 50% rumpy, but as we know, what should happen and what does
happen are many times two different things. Usually, however, one may
rely on this percentage. As long as litters are produced in which all
tail lengths appear, the breeder may feel that the breeding program is
Manx litters tend toward the small side in numbers, both because of
Manx Syndrome and because of the short back of the queen, which leaves
less room for large numbers of kittens. A typical Manx litter will be
3 or 4 kittens--more than that could crowd the kits and a female who
has a history of large litters needs careful observation during
pregnancy to see that all goes well. A sensible precaution with
expectant Manx queens is to have the vet x-ray or ultra-sound her a
couple of weeks before the due date, to determine the number of kits
Most breeders will have the tails of Manx kits docked at 4-6 days of
age. This is not so much for cosmetic reasons as it is to stave off
another manifestation of the Manx gene. In adult cats of around 5
years, the tail vertebrae may become ossified and arthritic, resulting
in pain for the cat. The pain may grow so severe that amputation is
necessary--a difficult operation for an adult cat. It is much less
painful and recovery is much swifter for a very young kitten to have
its tail docked.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
_Is this breed for me?_
Manx are sometimes called a man's cat. If you are a dog lover the Manx
is a good cat to purchase. They are more dog-like in their behavior
than any other cat we know. You can teach them to fetch, they usually
love rides in the car (truck drivers love them as companions), and
they are drawn to water like a duck. They are easily leash trained and
you can teach them to come by name or with a whistle. Loyal and
people-oriented, most Manx are also easily reprimanded and learn the
"no" command quickly.
If you like a tailed cat, or a cat that doesn't interact often with
you, or if you are interested in a more exotic version of a cat - slim
and lithe or very long-haired or large, or if you are looking for a
vocal, high-energy cat, the Manx is not for you. Some people expect a
Manx to look like a lynx. The Manx breeders today breed for a
medium-sized, sweet and intelligent cat.
_How old should my Manx kitten be when I get it?_
Any age after 4 months. By that time visible signs of Manx Syndrome
are present, and you may be reasonably certain that you are getting a
kitten free from this condition. The exception would be a dock-tailed
kitten, which a breeder might place in a new home at around 3 months.
It is extremely rare for a docktail to suffer from Manx Syndrome.
_How are Manx cats with other members of the family--children,
Manx are friendly and loving to members of the family other than their
primary care-giver. Though they do tend to pick a "special person,"
they get on well with children (if introduced to the household young
enough), and their placid natures make them especially good with older
_How do Manx get on with other family pets?_
Manx get along with other cats well, and usually adapt easily to dogs,
large or small. They are also known to live quietly with other types
of pets, such as birds or fish. It would not be wise, however, to
simply "spring" a kitten on the other pets in a household, but rather
go through several days or even a couple of weeks of introductions and
close supervision before letting everybody mingle indiscriminately.
_Should I have a pet companion for my Manx?_
Like most pets, a Manx will benefit from having "brothers and
sisters"--another cat or dog, but Manx attach very closely to their
people, and do not especially miss the companionship of another
animal. If, however, the caregiver is generally absent from the house
for the greater part of the day, another cat keeps the one from being
lonely. Because they do attach so strongly to their people, it isn't
good to leave them too long alone--it's cruel, even.
_Are they intelligent?_
A fairer question might be, am *I* intelligent enough to out-think
them? Manx are clever cats, and do seem to have great understanding.
Some Manx have learned how to open doors, and not just by pulling at
the bottom, but by somehow turning the handles. They seem to
understand very well what door knobs are for.
Manx can make up inventive games which demonstrate their intelligence.
Play time can involve retrieving small objects to be thrown again as
well as mock hide and seek "attacks".
_Do they purr?_
Most definitely yes. Manx have a great range of vocalizations. Most
Manx voices are quite soft, but they miaow and purr and most
distinctively, they "trill," especially a momcat calling her kits, or
any Manx calling his person.
_Do they scratch the furniture?_
Like any cat, Manx will scratch what feels good to them to do so. If
provided with scratching posts covered in the materials they prefer,
they will learn to use those posts if one is patient in putting them
in front of the post and praising them for using it. A squirt bottle
or water pistol can be quite effective in keeping them from scratching
the forbidden objects.
_Are they noisy?_
Manx have very quiet little voices for their size and weight. You are
more likely to hear them running than you are to hear them vocalizing,
unless it is a male and female calling each other, or a female calling
her kittens. They do like to chase each other, so hearing the thunder
of furry feet is usually the disturbance the Manx owner is used to.
_Do they have bad habits?_
It isn't a bad habit so much as it is an unavoidable situation.
Because rumpy Manx have no tails, sometimes "poop" will cling to the
close-lying hairs around the anus. This in turn may be smeared on the
floor or whatever the cat climbs onto after visiting the litter box.
If the cat's diet is such that it produces very soft stools, this can
happen fairly regularly. The "cure" for this is to watch what you feed
the cat; don't change the cat's diet drastically or
suddenly--gradually introduce new foods into the cat's menu and watch
for any reaction to it. "Poopy butt" occurs with most breeds at some
time or another--especially longhairs; it's only that the Manx hair
surrounds the anus so closely that makes it more susceptible. Once you
find a food your cat likes and tolerates well, stick with it.
_Which makes a better pet--male or female?_
If the cat is spayed or neutered, the sex of the cat is of little
import in deciding which to pick as a pet. It costs less to neuter a
male than to spay a female. Either sex is loving and sweet-natured
when raised in a loving home. If you plan to show your pet in the
championship (or "whole" cat) class, you probably would be happier
with a male than a female, since being around males will bring a
female into season and make her grouchy at the shows. On the other
hand, a whole male will most likely spray throughout the house, and
the smell of a whole male is extremely pungent.
Unless you plan to breed your cat (and the only reason to do that
would be if you have a top show-cat with excellent genes to pass on,
and you intend to become a breeder yourself), it would be best to spay
or neuter and show in the premier classes altogether. Either sex can
be successful in premier classes if the type is good. Neither males
nor females are more or less likely to adapt to showing based on sex
_Should the cat be allowed outdoors?_
It is never the best idea to allow your cat outside unsupervised,
since there are so many dangers for cats outside the home. Manx are no
less susceptible to rabies, feline leukemia, upper respiratory
infections, larger animal attacks and being hit by wheeled vehicles
than any other cat, and the worst danger of all is humans who hate
cats. Manx may be trained to walk on a leash, if one feels the need to
take the cat out. Generally speaking, however, the cat will not "pine"
for the great outdoors, and will live a much longer, happier, and
healthier life as an indoor pet - not to mention, your home will
remain flea-free. Manx will love sitting in a window for hours on end,
watching the world go by, and get very excited seeing birds and
squirrels and such.
_How long do they live?_
Manx may live into their 20's, and certainly may be expected to reach
the late teens as a matter of course. Once past the danger of Manx
Syndrome, the Manx is generally healthy when receiving regular
veterinary care and proper diet. The Manx doesn't fully mature until
around 5 years of age, and the greatest threat to health is
overweight. Because of the great depth of flank in the Manx, and the
standard which calls for a large, solid cat, it may be difficult to
tell if you're overfeeding your cat. It can be hard to distinguish
between depth of flank and fat. The best thing to do is to watch for
panting after normal exertion--if it doesn't stop after a short period
of time, the cat probably has a weight/health problem.
_What do you feed the cat?_
Kittens should get a high quality "growth formula" food for the first
year of their lives, and adult cats need a balanced maintenance diet.
It is a good idea to check the contents of any food you want to give
your cat, and avoid those with high ash/magnesium/potassium content.
The diet should be divided between dry and moist food, 1/4 moist to
3/4 dry. A source of fresh water should be provided at all times, and
_How do I get a Manx?_
Due to the authors' shared beliefs, we are not going to recommend any
breeders by name in a public FAQ. There are breeder listings in _Cat
Fancy_ and _Cats_ magazines. A new magazine called _The Manx Line_ is
available - 6 issues/year at $24, or $4.00 per issue. You may order
from Lisa Franklin & Joanne Stone at 19324 2nd Avenue NW, Seattle WA
Another good place to start would be to visit cat shows in your area
and talk to the Manx exhibitors there to find someone you feel
compatible with. Different breeders may specialize in certain colors
or coat lengths, and you will also see an example of the kind of cat
the breeder is producing. It is usually better to purchase from a
local breeder if you can. That way you can see the kitten, its
parents, and the conditions the kitten is raised in. If you live in an
area where there are no Manx breeders, get recommendations from other
breeders. Pictures or even video tape of your new prospective kitten
may be available from a breeder outside your area.
Prices for pet kittens will be less than those for show/breeder
quality kittens, so you should know what quality you want, and then be
prepared to ask more than one breeder about kitten availability. You
may very well need to go on a "waiting list" for kittens, because
litters aren't large, and most breeders don't produce huge numbers of
kittens a year.
You may contact Paul Osmond by e-mail - ,
Jean Brown by e-mail - , and Marj Baker by
e-mail - .
In Canada, contact Sam Cuttell (Rumplestump Manx) by email -
Any of us will be happy to talk with you and perhaps even suggest
breeders to interested individuals privately.
Paul Osmond, ,
Last updated 8/2/95
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