The Manx is an ancient breed that originated on the Isle of Man, a small island in the Irish Sea, located between Liverpool, England and Belfast, Ireland. Although the original island cats were shorthairs, the longhair gene was undoubtedly introduced by Vikings conquerors who brought longhair cats to the population who then bred with the local cats. The Manx Cat is a “working cat” and as such is strong cat with a healthy constitution, great intelligence and a personality that is active, but not hyperactive.
Besides taillessness, the Manx is known for its robust and rounded appearance with great depth of flank. This breed can actually be drawn with a series of circles. It has a very round head with rounded cheeks which give it a jowly appearance, especially in the male. It has high hindquarters with the back legs much longer than the forelegs, causing the rump to be higher than the shoulders. The shortness of the back forms a continuous arch from shoulders to rump. The Manx eyes are large and rounded, set at a slight tilt towards the ear. The ears are wide at the base, tapering to a rounded tip. Medium in size, they are widely spaced and set slightly outward. The ear should resemble the rocker on a cradle.
Manx cats have glossy, very soft double coats which are shorthaired or longhaired (also known as “Cymrics”). The longhaired Manx (Cymric) is identical to the shorthaired version in every way but for coat length. The Cat Fanciers Association considers the longhaired Manx and shorthaired Manx to be in two separate divisions. The Manx can be seen with just about every color and pattern. An average weight and size of a male Manx is approximately 10 to 12 pounds, and a female can range from approximately 8 to 10 pounds.
Manx are very playful and intelligent cats who are devoted to their families. They have extremely powerful hindquarters which allow them to jump to great heights and run with rapid acceleration and quick turns. The Manx is often said to be “dog-like” both in their loyalty to their families and their love of interactive play. They have a great sense of humor and are not above playing practical jokes on their families. They get along wonderfully with children and other family pets and have been known to protect their families from real or supposed danger. If given the chance, they are still great hunters, and a house with a Manx will certainly never have to worry about rodents. Manx mothers teach their kittens to hunt early in life using whatever “prey” they have available, such as bugs, feather toys, catnip mice, and other objects. A house with a Manx will never be boring!
Myths and Folklore
The Manx is the result of a naturally occurring genetic mutation. But folklore offers more fantastical explanations for its distinctive appearance. One legend is that a cat was late boarding Noah’s Ark and, in his haste, and was separated from his tail by the closing doors. Another myth has it that it is the Manx is the result of cross breeding between cats and rabbits. There are several versions of a legend blaming invading Vikings or Irish soldiers for the missing tail: these intruders were said to kill cats, believing their tails to be lucky charms. So, feline mothers bit off their kittens’ tails to save them.
No one’s entirely sure when cats – with or without tails – arrived on the Isle of Man. Tailless cats are not found anywhere else in Europe, but they do exist in the Far East. Could the Manx just be a long way from home? The bobtail cat was brought to the British Isles from Japan by Phoenician traders. Or could it be a temple cat from Tibet? Perhaps the cat was shipwrecked off the coast of the Isle of Man along with the fleet of the Spanish Armada?
The mysterious origins of the Manx cat may account for its supernatural powers. The cats have their own king, an ordinary feline by day who wanders the island in the shape of a fiery phantom by night, carrying out terrible acts of revenge against any human foolish enough to be unkind to the regal feline.