Manx cats are one of the oldest recognised breeds of cat – and certainly one of the most unusual! Made famous for their tails (or lack thereof!), these moggies have been a popular breed thanks to their hunting talents, dog-like temperaments, and unusual anatomy.
As the name suggests, the Manx cat originated on the Isle of Man. According to folklore, the first Manx cat came about when Noah shut the door of the Ark, accidentally cutting off a cat’s tail! However, experts believe that the first tailless cat came about through a random genetic mutation, which then spread through the generations, thanks to the limited genetic diversity and small cat population on the island. While there are other small, isolated populations of tailless cats across Britain and the rest of the world, the Manx cat has become the most famous.
Manx cats can be divided into five different categories according to tail length. These range from “rumpy” (a cat with no tail at all), to “longy” (a cat with a half- to normal-length tail).The original population of Manx cats was entirely made up of short-haired moggies until the Vikings landed of the Isle of Man in the 8th Century, along with their long-haired Norwegian forest cats. Modern Manx cats can be long or short-haired, and can have any of the same coat patterns and colours present in domestic shorthairs, thanks to many generations of breeding with non-Manx cats.
Manx cats are often born with partial tails, but many owners choose to have the tail docked (removed) because it can develop arthritis in later life, which can cause the cat severe pain. Another potential health problem for Manx cats is “Manx syndrome”, where the gene for a shortened tail can also cause the spine to be shortened too much. This lead to cats being born with various related issues such as spina bifida and issues with the back legs.
Compared to other breeds of cat, Manxes have been described as being dog-like in nature. They’re super friendly and loyal towards their humans, and can even be taught to perform tricks on demand, such as “fetch” and “sit”! Manx moggies are highly renowned as hunters, and were historically put to work on farms and ships to keep mice and rats at bay.
Featured image via flickr.