The Manx (Kayt Manninagh or Stubbin in Manx) is a breed of cat with a naturally occurring mutation of the spine. This mutation shortens the tail, resulting in a range of tail lengths from normal to tailless. Many Manx have a small 'stub' of a tail, but Manx cats are best known as being entirely tailless; the distinguishing characteristic of the breed and a cat body type genetic mutation. Some Manx cats resemble rabbits because of their long hind legs and often short tail, which has resulted in many being called Cabbits, a portmanteau of rabbit and cat.
The Manx are said to be skilled hunters, known to take down larger prey even when they are young. It is not uncommon to find a Manx with a squirrel or an opossum which are much larger than itself. They are often sought by farmers with rodent problems.
Folk beliefs claim the Manx Cats came from the Spanish Armada; a ship founded on Spanish Rock on the coast of the Isle of Man. According to legend, the cats on the ship swam ashore and became an established breed. Legend has it that the cats originally went onboard the Spanish ship in the Far East.
The Manx tail-less gene is dominant and highly penetrant; kittens from Manx parents are generally born without any tail. Having two copies of the gene is lethal and kittens are usually spontaneously aborted before birth. This means that tail-less cats can carry only one copy of the gene. Because of the danger of having two copies of the tail-less gene, breeders have to be careful about breeding two tail-less Manxes together. Problems can be avoided by breeding tail-less cats with tailed ones and this breeding practice is responsible for the decreasing occurrence of spinal problems in recent years.
There are various legends that seek to explain why the Manx has no tail. In one of them, Noah closed the door of the ark when it began to rain and accidentally cut off the Manx's tail, who'd been playing and almost got left behind. Another legend claims that the Manx is the offspring of a cat and a rabbit which is why it has no tail and rather long hind legs. In addition, they move with more of a hop than a stride, like a rabbit. This legend was further reinforced by the Cabbit myth. Recent postcards on the Isle of Man depict a cartoon scene of a cat's tail being run over and removed by a motorbike, because motorbike racing is popular on the Island.
Populations of tail-less cats also exist in a few other places in Europe. The population on the isolated Danish peninsula (former island) of Reersø in the Great Belt may be due to cats of Manx origin being shipwrecked on the island.
Manx kittens are classified according to tail length:
-Tail length is random throughout litter.
The ideal show Manx is the rumpy; the stumpy and tailed Manx do not qualify to be shown. In the past, kittens with stumpy or full tails have been docked at birth as a preventative measure due to some partial tails being very prone to a form of arthritis that causes the cat severe pain.
"Manx Syndrome" is a colloquial name given to the condition which results when the mutant tailless gene shortens the spine too much. It can seriously damage the spinal cord and the nerves causing spina bifida as well as problems with the bowels, bladder, and digestion. Some only live for 3 years; the oldest recorded was 5. In one study it was shown to affect about 20% of Manx cats, but almost all of those cases were rumpies, which exhibit the most extreme phenotype. Actual occurrences of this are rare in modern examples of the breed due to informed breeding practices. Most pedigreed cats are not placed until four months of age (to make sure that they are properly socialised) and this gives adequate time for any health problems to be identified. Renowned feline expert Roger Tabor has stated that "Only the fact that the Manx is a historic breed stops us being as critical of this dangerous gene as of other more recent selected abnormalities.
The Manx breed, in spite of the absence of tail, has no problems with balance.