The Manx is one of the more popular cat breeds due to its high intelligence, sweet temperament, unusual personality quirks, and exceptional longevity.
Available in every pattern, colour, and fur length, Manx cats tend to be stocky, with very thick fur and rear legs that are longer than their front legs. This breed has round eyes and a broad jawline, but the most definitive feature is the lack of a long tail. Manx cats may be completely tailless or have a small, stumpy tail.
The female Manx weighs 8-10 pounds on average, and the male 10-12 when fully grown. Unlike other cats, the Manx does not reach full maturity for five years.
Manx Cat History
The history of the Manx cat is steeped in myth and folklore. One story holds that the cat lost its tail when Noah shut the door to the Ark on it. Another has the breed descending from cats that swam to the Isle of Man from the ships of either the Spanish Armada or Viking invaders.
A sacred cat to the early Welsh, it was once believed that Manx mothers bit off the tails of their kittens to prevent them from being stolen by humans. Others believed the Manx to be a cross between a cat and a rabbit. In reality, a genetic mutation that occurred a few hundred years ago gave rise to the tailless cat, and isolated on the small UK island, the breed flourished.
Manx Cat Personality
While individual cats vary, overall, Manx cats are one of the more even-tempered, calm breeds. They have a tendency to be affectionate and friendly, and often follow their human companions around the house. Manx cats do not necessarily need another cat for company unless all the people in the household are out much of the time. However, because these cats are so people-oriented, they do better in homes where there is at least one human around for the better part of each day.
The Manx is known as a “man’s cat” or a “dog cat” due to its doglike nature. Some Manx cats can be taught to fetch, and many like water. Manx cats are more likely to be comfortable travelling in a vehicle than other cats, so they make good companions for truck drivers. They can learn to come when called by name or whistled for, and will usually take to leash training. While not as responsive to command training as dogs, they are more trainable than other breeds of cat.
The Manx is fiercely loyal and protective, and inclined to attack strange dogs. Otherwise, it tends to be a gentle cat. Most Manx cats are good with children, particularly if they grow up together. The majority get along with other cats and dogs as well, as long as the right approach is used when first introducing the two animals.
Bred for high intelligence, many Manx cats learn how to open doors – not only in the traditional cat way of pulling from the base of the door with their paws, but in some cases turning the door handles. This cleverness and dexterity extends to other activities as well, and Manx cats are known for their hunting prowess.
While the Manx tends to have a relatively quiet voice, some are quite talkative. The females often make a unique trilling sound, usually when calling to kittens, but sometimes when interacting with their favourite people as well.
Manx Cat Health
The gene that causes taillessness can also cause spinal problems, which are evident within the first few months after the kitten is born, and usually within the first month. The defect, known as Manx Syndrome, manifests as bladder or bowel dysfunction and difficulty walking. Because of the potential for this syndrome, Manx breeders usually don’t adopt kittens out until they are around four months old to ensure that they do not suffer from the disorder. Breeders also tend to dock the tail stump when the kittens are quite young. This is not done for cosmetic reasons as with dogs. Rather, it reduces the likelihood of Manx Syndrome manifesting. The syndrome is rare in dock-tailed cats. Due to selective breeding, Manx Syndrome is far less common than it once was, and the majority of cats without the syndrome enjoy robust health.
Like the Siamese, Manx cats are known for their longevity. Many live well into their 20s, and barring serious accident or illness, a Manx can be expected to live at least into the late teen years and often well beyond.
- Brown, Jean, Osmond, Paul, Baker, Marj, & Cuttel, Sam, Cat Fanciers’ Association. (1995). “The Manx Cat Breed FAQ.”
- Commings, Karen. (1999). Manx Cats: A Complete Pet Owners Manual. Hauppage, NY: Barron’s Educational Series.
- Isle of Man Guide. (n.d.). “Manx Cats.”