The mature Manx with all its rounded contours reminds one of a bowling ball. It is a round, heavy cat of medium size. Its primary feature is its lack of a tail. Not all kittens are born tailless. The ideal Manx has a rounded rump with just a dimple where the tail would have been however some have short stubby tails and some are born with full length tails. But the intelligent Manx is far more than just a cat without a tail! Its hind legs are long than the front legs so the rump is raised in the air. In days gone by, some people thought they saw a hopping gait and this, combined with the longer hind legs and lack of tail, gave rise to the moniker of 'bunny cat'. These charming cats claim an origin from the Isle of Man and come in two coat lengths: the shorthair known as the Manx and the longhair known as the Cymric.
Several colorful tales surround the origin of the Manx including the one where Noah cut off its tail as he closed the Ark door as the rain began. The records show the breed originated on the Isle of Man. The first cats may have come from nearby England and Wales or they may have come from further afield however the initial population arrived by ship on the Manx shores. At some point, a mutation occurred so kittens were born without the vertebrae of a normal tail. The first picture of one appears in a painting from 1810 however linguistic evidence suggests an earlier date around 1750 as the English word 'stubbin' is used for the Manx whereas prior to 1750 only the Manx language was used. A small island, the Isle of Man is an isolated area so inbreeding of the island population resulted in the lack of a tail becoming a common trait. Manx were among the original breeds at the dawn of the cat fancy in the late 1800s as we find them in the show records from that era. Tailless longhairs also appeared on the Isle of Man, however they did not achieve mainstream recognition until later. Today, the longhair is known as the Cymric with an identical standard to the Manx. TICA recognized both the Cymric and the Manx for championship competition in June 1979.
These gentle cats are generally playful and their powerful hindquarters make them excellent jumpers able to get to the highest corner to investigate something that has attracted their interest. They are intelligent cats quickly learning how to use their paws to turn a door handle to get to a room containing something they want. Manx and Cymrics quickly learn to retrieve and sometimes bury their toys like a dog. While they have a relatively quiet voice, they can be quite talkative and often use a unique trilling sound. They are people-oriented cats who form strong bonds with their families. They get on with children and other pets when properly introduced. These even-tempered, calm cats have a lot of affection to share and prefer not be on their own for long periods of time.
Together, the Manx and the Cymric comprise the Manx breed group. They differ only in coat length with the shorthairs known as Manx and the longhairs as Cymrics. They come in all traditional colors and patterns often with bold colors and dramatic markings. They have a thick coat that gives a padded feal to the body and adds to the rounded look. The shorthaired Manx has a double coat and the somewhat hard guard hairs tend to have a gloss appearance. The longhaired Cymric has a silky texture to the plush, medium-length coat with fluffy breeches and neck ruff.
While lack of a tail is the immediately obvious features of these breeds, they are also known for the roundness. These medium-sized cats have short, rounded bodies with a deep flank to the strong hindquarters, arched back and a round head with round cheeks. In fact, everything about these cats is round, making them resemble bowling balls! The eyes are also round but set on a sliight tilt and the ear set resembles the cradle of a rocking chair giving the cats a sweet expression. Manx/Cymrics take 5 years to reach their full maturity and then males will weigh 10-12 pounds on average and the female 8-10 pounds.
While the lack of tail is the most striking characteristic, it is important to keep in mind that the nerve endings are still present but are not protected so care should be taken when handling the area where the tail would have been or the stubby tails. Pressure in this area can cause the cat pain. Children should be cautioned to be careful when petting the cat and not to poke at the missing tail area. Also, because of the structure of the cat, the cat's hindquarters should always be supported when it is being picked up or carried to ensure there is no additional pressure on the spine.