Why Are Manx Cats Tailless?
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Why Are Manx Cats Tailless?

Manx cats are a unique cat breed from the Isle of Man, although there are many legends about how these cats lost their tails, they are all untrue. Learn why Manx cats do not have tails. Why don't Manx cats have tails? Do some Manx cats have tails? What health problems do Manx cats have? Are all tailless cats Manx cats? Learn the terms for different tail lengths in Manx cats.

The cat breed we now know as Manx cats originated on the Isle of Man, where they were called Manks cats, or stubbin.

These unusual cats are known for having no tail, and hopping like rabbits, and some folks have claimed they are the cross of a cat to a rabbit but this is 100% false. Manx cats are pure cat, with no rabbit genetics. Also worth noting, not all Manx cats are tailless.

Of course there are many legends of how the Manx cat lost its tail but in truth it is simply the result of a genetic mutation. This mutation is dominant, so when a Manx cat is bred to a cat with a tail it will often produce tailless kittens.

In truth Manx cats are tailless because of a genetic mutation, that, because it was dominant, and the Island was relatively isolated from other cat populations, spread, thus creating a “breed”. The genes responsible for Manx cats lacking a tail are actually related to the spine and the lack of a tail is really more of a spinal deformity than anything. Many Manx cats have problems controlling their bowels as a result of this deformity.

There are several degrees of taillessness in Manx cats.

  • Rumpy – fully tailless
  • Riser – will have a bump of cartilage that they can hold erect when playing
  • Stumpy – will have very short tail, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) long, the vertebra of which are fused
  • Stubby – will have a shorter than usual tail, up to half the length of a normal tail
  • Longy – has a tail that is anywhere from half the normal length to full length

Genetically speaking, although the gene for being tailless is dominant, it is also partially lethal in double does, in other words if a fully tailless cat is bred to another fully tailless cat one in 4 kittens will have a double dose of the tailless gene and will be aborted. As such tailless Manx cats have one dominant gene for taillessness, and one gene for regular tail length.

Most breeders will breed a tailless Manx to a tailed Manx to produce desired results for having a litter that will be roughly 50 percent tailless.

In addition to Manx cats often having problems with their bowels, many are born with tail deformities that require their tails to be docked at birth. Others may have further spinal deformities, even spina bifida, and urinary tract problems. This is often attributed to a problem called “Manx cat syndrome” and is one reason why Manx kittens are not usually sold (by good breeders) until they are four months of age and show no obvious health problems. Otherwise these deformities can shorten the cat's life to less than 5 years. Normally a Manx can should live into its teens.

The Manx cat is often known for its hopping gait, again this is related to the spinal deformity that causes taillessness. Otherwise they are quite playful and make good pets, and are said to be particularly good at hunting rats or mice.

Note that if you are buying a Manx cat be sure to get registration papers and a health guarantee.  Not all tailless cats are Manx and some people will try to sell you a kitten that lost its tail as the result of an injury, or frostbite, by telling you it is a Manx- if there are no registration papers, the kitten may not be Manx at all. 

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Comments (5)

Glad you emphasized genetics.

Well written on this topic to vote up.

I rely heavily on reading facts about animals that I can trust. Thank you for this education.

Thanks for expanding my knowledge, again.

Ranked #63 in Cats

they are truly beautiful cats