The Manx is a peculiar cat in that it is missing something very obvious… a tail. As you can imagine there are plenty of tales as to why the Manx has no tail (excuse the pun). The Manx has been around for centuries and the story of its origin differs.
It was once said that the Manx cat was running late for Noah’s Ark. When Noah closed the door of his Ark before the storm hit, he shut it too quickly and chopped off the tail of the cat. Another story states that an injured Manx with no tail swam ashore to the Isle of Man from the wrecked galleons of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Some even theorized that Manx’s were actually the result of a cat and rabbit interbreeding. This was thought because of the similarities in their long back legs, short tail, and rounded rump.
Tales aside, it is clear that the Manx cat originates from the Isle of Man, an island located in the Irish Sea. The missing tail is the result of a genetic mutation, possibly caused by inbreeding British Shorthairs. Due to the isolation of the island, and small population of cats, the dominant gene was easily passed on and became common in local cats.
Although the original island cats were shorthairs, it is thought by some that the gene was influenced by the introduction of the Scandinavian cat breeds, the ancestors of today’s Norwegian Forest Cats, brought over by Vikings. This is thought because of the similarities in the cat’s doglike characteristics. However, there is no genetic evidence to support this.
Even with no tails, the Manx featured in the some of the world’s first cat shows in the late 19th century. The Manx was one of the founding breeds of the Cat Fanciers’ Association (the world’s largest registry of pedigreed cats) when it was formed in 1906.
The Manx gene is an incomplete dominant, so even kittens that inherit it can show varying tail lengths, from a full tail to no tail at all. It is possible to have all tail lengths in a single litter. However, if an unborn cat inherits the tail-less gene from both parents, it will most likely die in the womb. Inheriting the gene from one parent can still have its problems. Cats can suffer from health issues related to having too few vertebrae in the lower or lower-middle part of their spines.
Due to the possible dangers, some campaigners believe that it is unethical to carry on the breeding of Manx cats. However, it is argued that the cat has managed to survive and thrive for centuries with no human interference.
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