The Manx—whose origin story is told in many whimsical tales—is an ancient cat breed from the Isle of Man. Whether a traveler aboard Noah's Ark, as some stories suggest, or a descendant of mousers on Viking ships, Manx cats are renowned for their easygoing, playful, and cheerful nature, says Kelly Fishman, DVM, founder of Strut Animal Mobility Specialists and veterinary consultant for MYOS Pet.
Manx are stocky cats, weighing 8–12 pounds, with short back limbs. They can have a tail or be tailless—it’s all up to genetics, Fishman says.
Caring for a Manx
Their history may be rich in tales, but not all Manx cats have tails. “Taillessness in Manx is caused by a mutation,” explains Fishman.
However, not all Manx cats lack a tail. They can be born with a short and stubby tail, a full-length tail, or no tail at all. In fact, Fishman says, two tailless cats can have a full-tailed kitten or kittens of varying tail lengths in a single litter.
Manx cats have been described as both dog-like and rabbit-like: dog-like for their lifelong playfulness, social streak, and love of learning new tricks, and rabbit-like because their hind legs are longer than their front legs, causing a gait that looks a lot like a bunny hop.
Manx Health Issues
Due to their unique physical characteristics, Manx cats are prone to certain medical conditions that can impact their average lifespan (about 10–14 years, shorter than the average cat).
If you are considering pet insurance for your Manx kitten, choose a company that provides coverage for breed-specific conditions, including congenital conditions that may affect Manx cats.
Manx syndrome is a serious genetic disease that may affect tailless Manx cats and those with a genetically short tail.
Cat and dog tails are extensions of the pet’s spinal column. Because the spine and spinal cord are shorter than normal in these cats with no tail, the nerves to the back legs, bladder, and colon might not function properly, Fishman explains.
Manx syndrome varies in severity, from mild weakness affecting jumping ability to the loss of bladder and fecal control to paralysis. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for Manx syndrome.
Nonetheless, Fishman says, many cats with Manx syndrome can live full lives with dedicated caretakers. She adds that not all tailless Manx have Manx syndrome and that the symptoms are apparent from birth. So, there’s no risk of your Manx kitten developing the condition later in life.
While arthritis can affect all cats as they age, Manx cats with stubby tails are particularly prone to developing early-onset arthritis in the joints between their deformed tail bones, according to The International Animal Welfare Science Society.
If you notice your Manx avoiding their favorite activities, like pouncing on their furry sibling or climbing to their favorite perch, ask your vet if joint supplements or pain management are right for your kitty. Additionally, helping your Manx cat maintain an ideal weight can reduce their likelihood of developing joint conditions.
Defects in the nerves of the colon can be caused by chronic constipation in cats. This can eventually lead to megacolon, or a stretched-out and weakened colon that cannot pass backed-up stool.
Signs of megacolon in cats include weight loss, lack of appetite and/or energy, and constipation. Your veterinarian can diagnose megacolon by feeling the abdomen for a hardened mass or with an X-ray. Treatment may include medication or, in severe cases, surgery.
Manx cats can be born with corneal dystrophy, a group of eye conditions affecting the cornea. Symptoms typically appear when Manx kittens are 4 months old, first as swelling or an accumulation of fluid in the front layer of the cornea, and progressing to significant fluid-filled blisters on the cornea.
Contact your veterinarian at the first signs of corneal disease, which might be noticeable as small white or gray circles or discoloration on the surface of the eye. The vet may be able to offer treatment before permanent damage occurs.
What To Feed a Manx
Just like any domestic cat breed, Manx require a high-quality diet meeting the Association of American Feed Control Officials’ (AAFCO) recommendations for their age. When choosing the best diet for your cat, consult your veterinarian.
How To Feed a Manx
Manx cats are known for their distinctive round features, including their belly, ears, head, and big, round eyes. Nonetheless, Fishman says, it’s important to monitor your Manx cat’s weight to ensure they maintain a healthy round shape rather than becoming overweight.
Instead of free-feeding cats, which can contribute to obesity, Fishman recommends feeding two to three small meals per day. “Keep your Manx’s food and water away from the litter box, as cats don’t like to eat near where they use the bathroom,” she adds.
How Much Should You Feed a Manx?
Feeding guidelines on cat food labels can serve as a starting point for how much to feed your Manx based on their weight. However, serving sizes differ for every cat based on their age, lifestyle, and ideal weight. Consulting with your veterinarian is the best way to determine the right number of calories for your cat.
Nutritional Tips for Manx Cats
When cat food is complete and balanced for their age, it has all the nutrients your kitty needs. That said, proactive pet parents may want to ask their vet whether joint supplements can help prevent or relieve common joint conditions in Manx, such as arthritis.
Behavior and Training Tips for Manx Cats
Manx Personality and Temperament
Natural-born hunters, Manx cats happily spend their days leaping at feathered wands and fetching toy mice. Their hind legs are longer than their front legs, giving them a slightly sloped appearance, Fishman says. It also helps them jump high and run fast.
Manx cats have been described as dog-like for their lifelong playfulness, social streak, and love of learning new tricks—and rabbit-like because their hind legs are longer than their front legs, causing a gait that looks like a bunny hop.
At the end of the day or on a lazy afternoon, the laid-back Manx will find time to curl up with their favorite companion.
“Manx are devoted to their families,” Fishman says. “They get along well with children and other family pets.” To ensure a smooth introduction, introduce your Manx to other pets gradually using positive reinforcement.
Manx cats have a naturally laid-back temperament, which means they typically don't exhibit breed-specific behavioral concerns, Fishman says. However, they do like to play.
“Playtime with your Manx is important to prevent boredom,” she says. Play contributes to a cat’s physical fitness, overall health, and well-being, while also helping to prevent stress-related behaviors like excessive meowing, litter box problems, or furniture scratching.
Manx enjoy fetching toys, much like a dog. They’re highly intelligent and sociable, which makes them ideal companions for learning tricks and wanted behaviors.
Litter box training comes naturally to most cats. If your Manx has accidents outside the litter box, see your veterinarian, who can rule out medical conditions such as urinary tract infections, hormonal conditions like diabetes, incontinence, and constipation.
Fun Activities for Manx Cats
Sunbathing on a window perch
Birdwatching from a catio
Cuddling with their human or furry companions
Interactive play with wands
Playing with children and other pets
Manx Grooming Guide
Manx come in all coat colors and patterns, and can have short or long hair—with the long-haired Manx taking the name Cymric. With their thick, double-layered coat, Manx cats need daily upkeep.
While your Manx doesn’t require a special bathing routine, they may enjoy baths if introduced to bathing as a kitten.
To prevent excess shedding and unruly mats, Fishman recommends brushing your Manx cat daily.
Manx cats have big, round eyes that come in all shades. Their eyes don’t typically need special care, but if you spot unusual discharge, swelling, or general irritation, make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Manx have relatively small, round ears. While they don’t require special care, inspect and gently clean your cat's ears if they’re dirty. Consult your veterinarian if there are indications of an ear infection, including redness, a foul odor, or debris in the ear canal.
Considerations for Pet Parents
The Manx is a friendly, easygoing cat who loves to play and spend time with their human and furry family members. Before bringing home a Manx, consider their special health conditions and work with a reputable Manx breeder who tests for common genetic diseases.
When preparing your home for a Manx, consider cat shelves and trees for climbing and toys to keep your cat busy. All in all, Manx are great companions for families and get along well with children and other pets.
How long do Manx cats live?
On average, Manx cats live 10–14 years, although some live 16 years or more.
Why do Manx cats not have tails?
A natural genetic mutation results in a tailless or stumpy-tailed Manx. Manx originated in the Isle of Man, where the genetic mutation for no tails became prominent among the breed.
But not all Manx cats lack a tail; they may be born with a short, stubby tail, full-length tail, or no tail at all. Fishman says the lack of a tail in Manx cats is caused by an incomplete dominant gene.
Is a Manx cat a good pet?
The Manx cat's distinct, rounded shape and short tail may initially capture your attention, but it’s their delightful personality that makes them a great fit for many cat-loving households. Often described as dog-like, Manx enjoy playing fetch and socializing with both pets and human family members.
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