I don’t really consider myself a “cat person”. Though I don’t have anything against cats, and grew up with lots of them, I typically prefer the company of dogs. But despite minor allergies and my preference for canines, I find myself developing an admiration for a specific cat breed, the short-tailed or tail-less Manx. My mother has always had a thing for this unique breed, and for as long as I can remember there was at least one Manx in the family. The more I watch them, the more I understand why they are easy to love.
A Breed Apart
Manx cats may appear to be just an ordinary cat at first glance. It is their lack of the characteristic, long cat tail that may make you do a double take! The feature is a naturally occurring genetic mutation that can manifest in several ways, even in a single litter of kittens. Manx may have a short tail (Stubby), a stump (Stumpy), or no tail (Riser, Rumpy) at all. Some have a nearly complete tail; they’re referred to as tailed or longy types. They tend to have smaller ears, large, tilted eyes and a more rounded build through the face and body. Their rear legs are longer than their front legs, lending to the rounded rump. They can have long hair or short hair, and they may be solid in color, striped, calico or tortoise-shell.
It is said that cats have a long tail to help them with balance. I’ve never known a Manx with balance issues, even without the appendage! Manx are active, agile and acrobatic. The Manx is a very playful cat as a rule, and some exhibit dog-like characteristics such as retrieving and burying their toys. (Maybe these behaviors heighten my admiration.) They tend to love high places, ours are often in trees, on the roof, and in the rafters of the barn. Their powerful hind quarters allow them to jump higher than you might expect, aiding them in their exploration of lofty places.
I find that these cats are also very attentive. They are quick to bond with a family or an individual and seek company and contact often. The Manx I’ve known rarely passed up an opportunity to play or say hello to “their people”.
The Manx has roots in tales and legends. One tale implies that the cats lost their tails when Noah slammed the door of the Ark, severing the appendages! The seeming concensus is that the breed originated on the Isle of Man off the coast of Great Britian before the 1700’s. It is believed that the population originated from ship’s cats (brought from Spain or the Far East) that washed up on the island and established the unique population. To this day, there are Manx cats on the isle, and from the island they were attributed their name.
My personal history with Manx cats began in early childhood. My parents had a black and white male aptly named Panda and a rather shy female named Bandit. Panda made a habit each Christmas of sleeping in the branches of our fake tree. Bandit made a habit of “adopting” orphaned pups and kittens. She passed away when she was 23 years old! Several currently reside on their farm where they make short work of rodents and birds that don’t see them hiding in the trees. They are all very endearing.
No matter how they came to be, the Manx may just be the only cat for me!
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