Cats By Jumpinjim (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Published on May 10th, 2016 | by Debbie Martin


Cat Breeds Series: Manx

What is a Manx Cat?

By Jumpinjim (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jumpinjim (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The Manx cat is an ancient breed that originally comes from the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. These cats are distinctive because they do not have a tail. This characteristic is a dominant gene that is caused by a mutation and spread to all of the other cats on the island.

One of the fascinating things about these cats is that all Manx have at least one gene for a full tail. This means that sometimes two cats carrying the tailless gene will produce a kitten with a full tail. This cat is a very stout and robust breed, with a round head and cheeks, high hindquarters and a short arched back. The eyes are big and rounded and the ears are wide at the base and then taper to a rounded tip. Because these cats use both rear legs at the same time to propel their body forward, they are said to move with more of a rabbit-like hop than a stride, especially when they are running.

The Manx cat is a wonderful companion and it has great intelligence, a lovely personality and a strong constitution. They are often said to be “dog like” in their loyalty, their love of families and their enjoyment of interactive play. They get along very well with children and other family pets and they are known for protecting their families from danger. Also, they are great hunters so when you own a Manx you will never have to worry about rodents.

History of the Breed

The long haired gene in the Manx cat was likely introduced during the rule of the Vikings. The long hair was present in the ancestors of the Norwegian Forest Cats of today, which came across on the Viking shops and mingled with the native cats.

The Manx cat was one of the original breeds of show cats. These tail-free felines were represented in the first ever cat shows which were held in the United Kingdom. When the CFA was founded in 1906, they became one of the founding breeds. Manx cats have been exhibited since the 1800s and the first known breed standard was officially published in 1903.

The Isle of Man employs the Manx cat as one of the main symbols of the unique culture of the island nation. The cat is featured on the Isle of Man currency as well as on many of the postage stamps.


These cats are social, active and tame. They are very friendly with humans and they will get attached to their family, but they can also be shy of strangers. The breed is very playful and intelligent and is said to act more like a dog than a cat. The Manx might follow its owner around like a puppy and they can sometimes even learn to follow simple verbal commands.

Common Health Issues

There are two main health problems that specifically affect the Manx cat – arthritis and Manx Syndrome. Manx Cats are quite a hearty breed, but it is important to look out for these two issues.

Manx Syndrome is a spinal disorder that is related to the genetic mutation in Manx cats that causes tailessness. Sometimes the tail winds up too short, which can lead to fatal spinal defects. This can also lead to spina bifida, gaps between vertebrae and fused vertebrae.

Fortunately, due to the efforts of the breeders to eliminate this condition, Manx Syndrome isn’t as common as it once was.

Another common issue in Manx cats is arthritis. Many breeders will decide to dock the tails of the Manx kittens who are not born completely tailless. This is done to enhance the appearance of the breed but it also prevents arthritis from forming in the vertebrae of the tail. A Manx cat with a partial or complete tail will become vulnerable to arthritis of the tail in adulthood and this condition can become intensely painful. In this situation amputation is necessary, which is traumatizing for an adult cat. So, the tail is often docked at birth.


The fur of a Manx cat is unique. There is a soft downy undercoat with another coat on top with longer guard hairs. This means that the Manx cat is prone to matting. In order to avoid this you should groom your Manx cat’s fur every day, especially in the summer months. Once the matting starts, even if it is just a little, you should take your cat to the groomer to get the mats shaved out so that they can be stopped from spreading.

When you wash your Manx cay you should dilute the shampoo first, so that it rinses out easily and quickly. This leaves the coat squeaky clean. Keeping the cat’s coat clean means that it will be less susceptible to matting so that grooming them will be easier in the long run.

More Tips for Owning a Manx Cat

Here are some other important things that you should know if you are considering owning a Manx cat.

  • The Manx is somewhat of a watchdog – it will be very protective of its home and any disturbance out of the ordinary will cause a low growl and even an attack. A strange dog is a target of an attack.
  • A Manx will prefer a quiet and peaceful environment, so lots of loud noises and excitement will startle them.
  • Although a Manx cat doesn’t dislike other cats, they are not the sort of breed that needs the company of other cats to feel contented.
  • Manx make great show cats and they really enjoy the attention they receive at the show. It is not uncommon for the Manx to play up to the judges and give them sweet head butts to win their affection.

These are just a few important things that you should know when it comes to owning a Manx cat. Take your time to understand this breed so that you can live happily ever after with your feline companion.

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About the Author

Debbie Martin has worked at Beeston Animal Health for over five years, having previously worked as a nurse in equine and small animal practice. Although generally involved with aspects of marketing these days and putting her psychology degree to good use, she still has a great depth of up to date knowledge in all creatures great and small. Debbie lives at home with her partner and two children and spends much of her spare time looking after her horses, dogs and cats or at the home farm with the cows, sheep and turkeys.

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