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Alan Robinson, Animal Photography
Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography
Allan Thompson, Animal Photography
The friendly, affectionate Manx, who hails from the Isle of Man, is best known for his taillessness. He has a solid body, round head, widely spaced ears, large, round eyes and a thick coat that comes in many colors and patterns, including tabby, tortoiseshell and calico. The Cymric (pronounced kim-rick) is the longhaired variety of the Manx. Other than coat length, the two breeds are identical.
Stimpy of "The Ren & Stimpy Show" is a Manx cat.
Besides his lack of a tail, the Manx, who takes his name from the Isle of Man where he was first found, is noted for his rounded appearance: He has a round head, round eyes, even a rounded rear end. Don’t think that the Manx is completely tailless, either; some are—they are called rumpys—but others have up to three vertebrae fused at the end of the spine (rumpy risers); some have a stump of up to five vertebrae that they can whisk around; and some, known as longys, have a tail that’s longer than the stump but shorter than the typical cat tail. The Manx, which also comes in a longhaired version called the Cymric, weights 7 to 13 pounds, has a thick double coat in many colors and patterns, and lives for 13 or more years.
The Manx is gentle and playful. It’s not unusual to find that he enjoys playing fetch or carrying his toys around. He’s also smart and dexterous, capable of using his paws to get into cabinets or to open doors. Fond of human company, he will carry on a conversation in a sweet trilling voice. Some Manx give all their love to a single person while others are affectionate toward the entire family, including children.
He might lack a tail, but the Manx has a powerful rear end and is an excellent jumper, even without a natural counterweight to aid his balance. When you see him accelerate through the house and make sharp turns and quick stops, you’ll think he’s a mini sports car in the shape of a cat.
The Manx is well suited to any home with people who will love him and give his gorgeous coat a weekly combing. Keep him indoors to protect him from cars, diseases spread by other cats and attacks from other animals.
There are lots of myths about how these cats lost their tails. One is that they were late boarding the ark and had the door slammed on the tail. Another is that Irish or Viking raiders would steal kittens because their tails were considered to be good luck charms, so the mama cats simply bit the tails off. More likely, taillessness is the result of a genetic mutation, enhanced by centuries of inbreeding on the Isle of Man, where the cats are from. Along with the taillessness may have come a recessive gene for long hair. Voila! The Cymric.
The Manx is highly intelligent. Challenge his brain and keep him interested in life by teaching him tricks and providing him with puzzle toys that will reward him with kibble or treats when he learns how to manipulate them.
Always choose a kitten from a breeder who raises litters in the home and handles them from an early age. Meet at least one and ideally both of the parents to ensure that they have nice temperaments.
All cats have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit diseases. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on kittens or who tells you that her kittens are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons.
The Manx’s lack of a tail isn’t always benign. Some have spinal defects that result in neurological signs such as problems defecating or urinating. Most Manx kittens with these problems are identified by 6 months of age and must be euthanized. It doesn’t hurt to wait to take your kitten home until you’re sure he doesn’t suffer from any of these problems. Avoid kittens who have trouble walking or walk with a stiff or hopping gait, and do not buy from a breeder who does not provide a written health guarantee.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new kitten into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Manx at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to protect his overall health. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier cat for life.
The Manx coat is easy to groom. Comb or brush it once or twice a week to remove dead hair. You’ll need to brush him more often during the spring and fall shedding seasons. Trim the nails weekly and clean the ears occasionally if they look dirty. Brush the teeth with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for overall good health and fresh breath.
You want your Manx to be happy and healthy so you can enjoy your time with him, so do your homework before you bring him home. For more information on the history, personality and looks of the Manx, or to find breeders, visit the websites of the Cat Fanciers Association, Cats Center Stage, the Fanciers Breeder Referral List, and The International Cat Association.
A reputable breeder will abide by a code of ethics that prohibits sales to pet stores and wholesalers and outlines the breeder’s responsibilities to their cats and to buyers. Choose a breeder who has performed the health certifications necessary to screen out genetic health problems to the extent that is possible, as well as one who raises kittens in the home. Kittens who are isolated can become fearful and skittish and may be difficult to socialize later in life.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include kittens always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any kitten, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your feline friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and unhealthy catteries can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick kitten, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy kittens.
Put at least as much effort into researching your kitten as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Be patient. Depending on what you are looking for, you may have to wait six months or more for the right kitten to be available. Many breeders won't release kittens to new homes until they are between 12 and 16 weeks of age.
Before you buy a kitten, consider whether an adult Manx might be a better choice for your lifestyle. Kittens are loads of fun, but they’re also a lot of work and can be destructive until they reach a somewhat more sedate adulthood. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health. If you are interested in acquiring an adult cat instead of a kitten, ask breeders about purchasing a retired show or breeding cat or if they know of an adult cat who needs a new home.
The Manx is an unusual and uncommon breed. It is unlikely that you will find one in a shelter or through a rescue group, but it doesn’t hurt to look. Sometimes pedigreed cats end up at the shelter after losing their home to an owner’s death, divorce or change in economic situation. Check the listings on Petfinder, Adopt-a-Pet.com or the Fanciers Breeder Referral List, and ask breeders if they know of a Manx who is in need of a new home.
Wherever you acquire your Manx, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with “pet lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the cat from both understand your rights and recourses.
Kitten or adult, take your Manx to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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