Written by Jean M. Brown of Romannx Cattery. Used with permission.
“Manx” doesn’t mean tailless cat, it means cat from the Isle of Man. The Manx as a breed originated on the Isle of Man, located in the Irish sea about half-way between England and Ireland. The date of origin is unknown, but tailless cats have been observed on the island for a few hundred years. The Manx is a cobby (stocky, solid) cat with a dense double coat (long or short), a compact body, very short back, hind legs that are visibly longer than the front legs, big bones, a wide chest, and greater depth of flank (sides of the cat nearest the rear) than other cats. The standard weight for males is 10-12 lbs. and for females is 8-10 lbs. The Manx head is broad-jowled with round eyes, and the ear-set is distinct to the breed–when viewed from the back, the ears and the top of the head form a “cradle” or “rocker” shape. The ears themselves are broad at the base and taper to a narrower, rounded tip. The ears turn slightly outward rather than facing directly forward. This is the general appearance of all Manx cats, regardless of whether they are show-quality or not.
Although the completely tailless, or “rumpy,” Manx is the desired show type, Manx may also have tails. A litter of kittens may include a rumpy, a “riser” (has a bit of cartilage at the base of the spine, under the skin, that may be felt when the cat is happy), a “stumpy” (any tail length not long, but has its own skin sheath), and a “longy,” and all are Manx. Only rumpy and riser Manx may be shown in American competition, and the riser’s cartilage must not stop the judge’s hand when the back is stroked. This means, the rise may not be “fixed” but should be mobile, and will flatten to the rump when stroked.
Whatever the tail length, all the other physical characteristics will be present – roundness of head and body, cradle-set ears, broad chest, deep flank. In fact, the tailed Manx are necessary for the healthy continuation of the breed. The tailless gene, a dominant gene, is presumed to be potentially lethal when breeding rumpies to each other into or beyond the third generation. The breeder continues to use tailed cats in the breeding program to insure strong kittens and to reduce the possibility of genetic deformity. See the section on Special Medical Problems.
The most striking feature of the show-quality Manx is the complete lack of a tail. Indeed, the best Manx has a slight indentation at the base of the spine where the tail would begin–a “dimple.” As one CFA judge puts it, the best asset is no asset. The breed standard against which a show-quality Manx is judged continuously uses the word “round” to describe the Manx–round body, round eyes, round rump, round head, even round paws. The impression that you get when looking at the Manx is of a hairy basketball with legs. Balance is important, as well, with all that roundness. The Manx needs proportion, or it will be a fat, furry lump. All parts of the body should “go together”–so that what you see isn’t a “head” or a “body” but a complete cat. The short back should rise in a continuous curve to the rump, and the long back legs complete that rounded picture. The head shouldn’t be too large for the body, nor the chest too broad for the hindquarters.
Manx cats come in every color and pattern, although the pointed, or Himalayan, pattern is not accepted in all associations. You will see classic and mackerel tabby Manx, tortoiseshell Manx, calico and solid-color and bi-color Manx; and the color possibilities cover the range of red, blue, cream, brown, black, and white. Eyes are generally copper, but silvers may have green eyes, and white cats can have blue, copper, or odd eyes (one blue, one copper).
Manx coats can be either longhair or shorthair. CFA has made the longhair and the shorthair Manx two divisions of the breed, eliminating the former name “Cymric” for the longhair. The longhaired version is considered to be derived from the shorthair and aside from the coat length, the standard is exactly the same. Other associations, such as TICA in the USA and FIFe in Europe, have retained the Cymric name for their long-haired Manx. Longhairs still have a double coat, but the outer coat is of a semi-long length. It doesn’t require the daily brushing of a Persian, but needs more care than the shorthair coat does. All colors and patterns exist in both coat lengths.