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rec.pets.cats: Manx Breed-FAQ


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Archive-name: cats-faq/breeds/manx
Posting-frequency: 30 days
URL: http://www.fanciers.com/breed-faqs/manx-faq.html
Last-modified: 12 Mar 1997

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                               MANX BREED FAQ
                                      
                                      
     _________________________________________________________________
    
AUTHORS:

   
          Jean Brown - Romanxx Cattery
          Paul Osmond - Wild No Tail Cattery
          Marj Baker - Sansq Cattery
          Sam Cuttell - Rumplestump Cattery
          
   Copyright (c) 1994, 1995 Jean Brown, Paul Osmond, Marj Baker and Sam
   Cuttell, All Rights Reserved.
   
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
TOPICS

     * DESCRIPTION
     * HISTORY
     * MYTHOLOGY
     * CHARACTERISTICS AND TEMPERAMENT
     * SPECIAL MEDICAL PROBLEMS
     * FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
       
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
DESCRIPTION

   The Manx is a stocky, solid cat with a dense double coat (long or
   short), a compact body, very short back, hind legs that are visibly
   longer than the front legs, big bones, a wide chest, and greater depth
   of flank (sides of the cat nearest the rear) than other cats. The
   standard weight for males is 10-12 lbs. and for females is 8-10 lbs.
   The Manx head is broad-jowled with round eyes, and the ear-set is
   distinct to the breed--when viewed from the back, the ears and the top
   of the head form a "cradle" or "rocker" shape. The ears themselves are
   broad at the base and taper to a narrower, rounded tip. This is the
   general appearance of all Manx cats, regardless of whether they are
   show-quality or not.
   
   Although the completely tailless, or "rumpy," Manx is the desired show
   type, Manx may also have tails. A litter of kittens may include a
   rumpy, a "riser" (has a bit of cartilage at the base of the spine,
   under the skin, that may be felt when the cat is happy), a "stumpy"
   (any tail length not long, but visibly a tail), and a "longy," and all
   are Manxes. Only rumpy and riser Manx may be shown in American
   competition, and the riser's cartilage must not stop the judge's hand
   when the back is stroked.
    
   Whatever the tail length, all the other physical characteristics will
   be present - roundness of head and body, cradle-set ears, broad chest,
   deep flank. In fact, the tailed Manx are necessary for the healthy
   continuation of the breed. The tailless gene, a dominant gene, is
   lethal when breeding rumpies to each other into or beyond the third
   generation. The breeder continues to use tailed cats in the breeding
   program to insure strong kittens and to reduce the possibility of
   genetic deformity. See SPECIAL MEDICAL PROBLEMS.
   
   The most striking feature of the show-quality Manx is the complete
   lack of a tail. Indeed, the best Manx has a slight indentation at the
   base of the spine where the tail would begin--a "dimple." The breed
   standard against which a show-quality Manx is judged continuously uses
   the word "round" to describe the Manx--round body, round eyes, round
   rump, round head, even round paws. The impression that you get when
   looking at the Manx is of a hairy basketball with legs. Balance is
   important, as well, with all that roundness. The Manx needs
   proportion, or it will be a fat, furry lump. All parts of the body
   should "go together"--so that what you see isn't a "head" or a "body"
   but a complete cat. The short back should rise in a continuous curve
   to the rump, and the long back legs complete that rounded picture. The
   head shouldn't be too large for the body, nor the chest too broad for
   the hindquarters.
   
   Manx cats come in every color and pattern, though the pointed, or
   Himalayan, pattern is not accepted in all associations. You will see
   classic and mackerel tabby Manx, tortoiseshell Manx, calico and
   solid-color and bi-color Manx; and the color possibilities cover the
   range of red, blue, cream, brown, black, and white.
   
   Manx coats can be either longhair or shorthair. CFA has recently made
   the longhair and the shorthair Manx two divisions of the breed,
   eliminating the former name "Cymric" for the longhair, while other
   associations, such as TICA, have retained the Cymric name for their
   long-haired Manx. Longhairs still have a double coat, but the outer
   coat is of a semi-long length. It doesn't require the daily brushing
   of a Persian, but needs more care than the shorthair coat does. All
   colors and patterns exist in both coat lengths.
   
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
HISTORY

   
   There are a number of mythical tales surrounding the origins of the
   Manx, such as that Noah cut off its tail with the door of the Ark as
   the rain began to fall. In actuality, Manx cats originated on the Isle
   of Man, off the coast of Great Britain, among a population of cats
   whose common ancestry sprang from the same roots as the British
   Shorthair. A spontaneous mutation occurred at some point several
   hundred years ago, which created kittens born without the vertebrae
   that form the tail of normal cats. With the passage of centuries and
   due to the isolation of the cats from outside breeding, the
   taillessness eventually became a common characteristic among the Isle
   of Man cats, because the mutated gene is a dominant trait.
   
   The original Isle of Man Manx was a rangier cat than the standard used
   today, but the basics were there--deep flanks, long back legs, sturdy
   body. Through careful, deliberate breeding programs, the size of the
   cat has increased, and the short-backed, broad-chested and stocky cat
   that we see now became the desired type.
   
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
MYTHOLOGY AND FOLKLORE OF THE MANX

   Many stories of the origin of the Manx are found in cat and mythology
   books. In many of these tales the Manx are descended from ship's cats
   who were shipwrecked on the Isle of Man when their ships were sunk off
   the coast. A commonly told story is the legend from the early 1600s of
   two ships from the Spanish Armada that were sunk off Spanish Point
   near Port Erin. The Isle of Man was the refuge for the tailless cats
   from these two ships. Another legend has it that the cat came from a
   ship wrecked in 1806 off Jurby Point, while another says it was a
   Baltic ship wrecked off Castle Rushen and Calf Island.
   
   Early speculation considered the Annamite cats to be the beginning of
   the Manx, these cats having short tails. They were introduced into
   Burma. Others felt the Manx may be descended from Siam and Malaya. The
   Malaya Archipelago cats have kinked, knotted and short tails.
   
   The Welsh also lay claim to the Manx in their legends and the people
   considered them sacred animals in early times.
   
   British folklore has it that mom cats bit off their kittens' tails to
   keep humans from snatching them away.
   
   Stumpy tailed cats in New Guinea sometimes get their tails docked by
   their owners. If a cat is stolen the tail is buried with certain
   spells to bring misfortune on the thief.
   
   The truth is that short-tailed and tailless cat are seen the world
   over, the result of a genetic mutation. Japanese Bobtails have short
   kinked tails and a less stocky body than the Manx. Other breeds of
   cats occasionally produce a kitten with a missing tail. The Manx,
   however, is the only cat that is bred to be tailless.
   
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
CHARACTERISTICS AND TEMPERAMENT

   The Manx is a mellow, even-tempered cat, friendly and affectionate.
   Its origins as a "working" cat are still strongly seen in the breed,
   and any Manx which lives an outdoor or outdoor/indoor life is a
   fierce, dedicated hunter. Many people call the Manx the "dog cat"
   because of its strong desire to be with its people. Manx cats will
   follow you about the house, "helping" with whatever you happen to be
   doing at the moment. Manx cats are not prone to restive movement, and
   even kittens like to curl up in a lap for a nap. Manx do like to get
   on things, and if you're looking for your cat, look about the room at
   eye-level (yours, not the cat's) on tables and the backs of chairs and
   on bookcases. Chances are, you'll spot your cat pretty quickly.
   
   The Manx voice is usually very quiet for its size. Even a female in
   full-blown heat doesn't make very much noise at all. The Manx has a
   distinct "trill" which you most often hear from females talking to the
   kits, but with which they will reply to their people's verbalizations
   as well. Your Manx *will* talk to you.
   
   The "watch Manx" is a sight to behold: Many Manx are very protective
   of their home and any unusual noise or disturbance will cause a low
   growl and even an attack by a Manx that is very protective. Strange
   dogs are especially a target of attack.
   
   Manx make good pets for younger children if they grow up with them,
   because of their even-temperedness. An older Manx may have some
   difficulty adjusting to the noise and quickness of children, however,
   since Manx generally prefer a quiet, settled environment. If your home
   is a quiet one, you'll find that your young Manx quickly becomes
   accustomed to that peace and quiet, and simply slamming a door may
   startle the cat. For the most part, though, Manx aren't timid cats,
   and will place a lot of confidence in their people's reaction to
   events. A Manx that has been raised in a family environment will
   transfer easily to another home and remain a happy, playful cat.
   
   If you decide on a show cat, you'll find that most Manx adjust well to
   the activity of the show hall, if you begin showing them at the kitten
   stage. Some Manx actually love the attention they receive at a show,
   and enjoy meeting new people. It is rare for a Manx to "play" on the
   judging table however much they might chase toys and race about in
   your home. They much prefer "kissing up" to the judge, and will
   deliver "head-butts" to any judge who places his/her face within
   range.
   
   Manx, unlike many breeds, may be shown for years - as long as they are
   willing to go and enjoy it, as a matter of fact. This is because the
   Manx matures slowly, and may take as long as five years to reach full
   growth and potential. This means that you may get many years of
   showing enjoyment out of your Manx, and it is conceivable that your
   cat could win more than one regional/national title as it gets better
   and better with the passing of time.
   
   Male and female Manx show equally well in the premiership classes, as
   both may attain the roundness and "type" for top show ability. In the
   championship classes, males may have the edge over the females, as the
   whole queen will come into heat often when shown, and this can cause
   her temperament to be uneven. Whole males generally maintain a more
   even disposition, although a male used often as a stud may develop a
   testiness as time goes by, especially in early spring shows when
   females come into season.
   
   In choosing a show kitten, rely on the breeder to point out likely
   kittens. About 80 percent of the time, the promising kitten becomes
   the excellent adult. There are exceptions, of course, especially after
   the cat has been spayed/neutered, when the so-so kitten develops into
   a surprisingly winning cat. This is one thing that makes cat showing
   thrilling, though, when that occasional "surprise" comes along and
   brightens your life.
   
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
SPECIAL MEDICAL PROBLEMS

   Manx Syndrome is a normally fatal defect caused by the so-called Manx
   gene, which causes the taillessness. The gene's action in shortening
   the spine may go too far, resulting in severe spinal defects--a gap in
   the last few vertebrae, fused vertebrae, or spina bifida in newborns.
   If there is no obvious problem with a Manx Syndrome kitten at birth,
   the difficulties will show up in the first few weeks or months of the
   cat's life, usually in the first four weeks, but sometimes as late as
   four months. It is often characterized by severe bowel and/or bladder
   dysfunction, or by extreme difficulty in walking.
   
   Breeders of Manx will generally not let kittens leave the cattery
   until they have reached four months of age because of the possibility
   of Manx Syndrome appearing. In most cases, however, experience will
   point to a problem in a kitten long before the kit is four months old.
   Rarely will a breeder have no suspicion of anything wrong and have the
   Manx Syndrome appear.
   
   Manx Syndrome may occur even in a carefully bred litter, but is more
   likely in the instance when a rumpy is bred to a rumpy in or beyond
   the third generation. For this reason, the breeder carefully tracks
   rumpy to rumpy breedings, and uses tailed Manx regularly in the
   breeding program. Generally speaking, a sound breeding between a
   tailed Manx and a rumpy Manx should produce a litter that is 50%
   tailed and 50% rumpy, but as we know, what should happen and what does
   happen are many times two different things. Usually, however, one may
   rely on this percentage. As long as litters are produced in which all
   tail lengths appear, the breeder may feel that the breeding program is
   on track.
   
   Manx litters tend toward the small side in numbers, both because of
   Manx Syndrome and because of the short back of the queen, which leaves
   less room for large numbers of kittens. A typical Manx litter will be
   3 or 4 kittens--more than that could crowd the kits and a female who
   has a history of large litters needs careful observation during
   pregnancy to see that all goes well. A sensible precaution with
   expectant Manx queens is to have the vet x-ray or ultra-sound her a
   couple of weeks before the due date, to determine the number of kits
   to expect.
   
   Most breeders will have the tails of Manx kits docked at 4-6 days of
   age. This is not so much for cosmetic reasons as it is to stave off
   another manifestation of the Manx gene. In adult cats of around 5
   years, the tail vertebrae may become ossified and arthritic, resulting
   in pain for the cat. The pain may grow so severe that amputation is
   necessary--a difficult operation for an adult cat. It is much less
   painful and recovery is much swifter for a very young kitten to have
   its tail docked.
   
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

   _Is this breed for me?_
   
   Manx are sometimes called a man's cat. If you are a dog lover the Manx
   is a good cat to purchase. They are more dog-like in their behavior
   than any other cat we know. You can teach them to fetch, they usually
   love rides in the car (truck drivers love them as companions), and
   they are drawn to water like a duck. They are easily leash trained and
   you can teach them to come by name or with a whistle. Loyal and
   people-oriented, most Manx are also easily reprimanded and learn the
   "no" command quickly.
   
   If you like a tailed cat, or a cat that doesn't interact often with
   you, or if you are interested in a more exotic version of a cat - slim
   and lithe or very long-haired or large, or if you are looking for a
   vocal, high-energy cat, the Manx is not for you. Some people expect a
   Manx to look like a lynx. The Manx breeders today breed for a
   medium-sized, sweet and intelligent cat.
   
   _How old should my Manx kitten be when I get it?_
   
   Any age after 4 months. By that time visible signs of Manx Syndrome
   are present, and you may be reasonably certain that you are getting a
   kitten free from this condition. The exception would be a dock-tailed
   kitten, which a breeder might place in a new home at around 3 months.
   It is extremely rare for a docktail to suffer from Manx Syndrome.
   
   _How are Manx cats with other members of the family--children,
   seniors, etc.?_
   
   Manx are friendly and loving to members of the family other than their
   primary care-giver. Though they do tend to pick a "special person,"
   they get on well with children (if introduced to the household young
   enough), and their placid natures make them especially good with older
   family members.
   
   _How do Manx get on with other family pets?_
   
   Manx get along with other cats well, and usually adapt easily to dogs,
   large or small. They are also known to live quietly with other types
   of pets, such as birds or fish. It would not be wise, however, to
   simply "spring" a kitten on the other pets in a household, but rather
   go through several days or even a couple of weeks of introductions and
   close supervision before letting everybody mingle indiscriminately.
   
   _Should I have a pet companion for my Manx?_
   
   Like most pets, a Manx will benefit from having "brothers and
   sisters"--another cat or dog, but Manx attach very closely to their
   people, and do not especially miss the companionship of another
   animal. If, however, the caregiver is generally absent from the house
   for the greater part of the day, another cat keeps the one from being
   lonely. Because they do attach so strongly to their people, it isn't
   good to leave them too long alone--it's cruel, even.
   
   _Are they intelligent?_
   
   A fairer question might be, am *I* intelligent enough to out-think
   them? Manx are clever cats, and do seem to have great understanding.
   Some Manx have learned how to open doors, and not just by pulling at
   the bottom, but by somehow turning the handles. They seem to
   understand very well what door knobs are for.
   
   Manx can make up inventive games which demonstrate their intelligence.
   Play time can involve retrieving small objects to be thrown again as
   well as mock hide and seek "attacks".
   
   _Do they purr?_
   
   Most definitely yes. Manx have a great range of vocalizations. Most
   Manx voices are quite soft, but they miaow and purr and most
   distinctively, they "trill," especially a momcat calling her kits, or
   any Manx calling his person.
   
   _Do they scratch the furniture?_
   
   Like any cat, Manx will scratch what feels good to them to do so. If
   provided with scratching posts covered in the materials they prefer,
   they will learn to use those posts if one is patient in putting them
   in front of the post and praising them for using it. A squirt bottle
   or water pistol can be quite effective in keeping them from scratching
   the forbidden objects.
   
   _Are they noisy?_
   
   Manx have very quiet little voices for their size and weight. You are
   more likely to hear them running than you are to hear them vocalizing,
   unless it is a male and female calling each other, or a female calling
   her kittens. They do like to chase each other, so hearing the thunder
   of furry feet is usually the disturbance the Manx owner is used to.
   
   _Do they have bad habits?_
   
   It isn't a bad habit so much as it is an unavoidable situation.
   Because rumpy Manx have no tails, sometimes "poop" will cling to the
   close-lying hairs around the anus. This in turn may be smeared on the
   floor or whatever the cat climbs onto after visiting the litter box.
   If the cat's diet is such that it produces very soft stools, this can
   happen fairly regularly. The "cure" for this is to watch what you feed
   the cat; don't change the cat's diet drastically or
   suddenly--gradually introduce new foods into the cat's menu and watch
   for any reaction to it. "Poopy butt" occurs with most breeds at some
   time or another--especially longhairs; it's only that the Manx hair
   surrounds the anus so closely that makes it more susceptible. Once you
   find a food your cat likes and tolerates well, stick with it.
   
   _Which makes a better pet--male or female?_
   
   If the cat is spayed or neutered, the sex of the cat is of little
   import in deciding which to pick as a pet. It costs less to neuter a
   male than to spay a female. Either sex is loving and sweet-natured
   when raised in a loving home. If you plan to show your pet in the
   championship (or "whole" cat) class, you probably would be happier
   with a male than a female, since being around males will bring a
   female into season and make her grouchy at the shows. On the other
   hand, a whole male will most likely spray throughout the house, and
   the smell of a whole male is extremely pungent.
   
   Unless you plan to breed your cat (and the only reason to do that
   would be if you have a top show-cat with excellent genes to pass on,
   and you intend to become a breeder yourself), it would be best to spay
   or neuter and show in the premier classes altogether. Either sex can
   be successful in premier classes if the type is good. Neither males
   nor females are more or less likely to adapt to showing based on sex
   alone.
   
   _Should the cat be allowed outdoors?_
   
   It is never the best idea to allow your cat outside unsupervised,
   since there are so many dangers for cats outside the home. Manx are no
   less susceptible to rabies, feline leukemia, upper respiratory
   infections, larger animal attacks and being hit by wheeled vehicles
   than any other cat, and the worst danger of all is humans who hate
   cats. Manx may be trained to walk on a leash, if one feels the need to
   take the cat out. Generally speaking, however, the cat will not "pine"
   for the great outdoors, and will live a much longer, happier, and
   healthier life as an indoor pet - not to mention, your home will
   remain flea-free. Manx will love sitting in a window for hours on end,
   watching the world go by, and get very excited seeing birds and
   squirrels and such.
   
   _How long do they live?_
   
   Manx may live into their 20's, and certainly may be expected to reach
   the late teens as a matter of course. Once past the danger of Manx
   Syndrome, the Manx is generally healthy when receiving regular
   veterinary care and proper diet. The Manx doesn't fully mature until
   around 5 years of age, and the greatest threat to health is
   overweight. Because of the great depth of flank in the Manx, and the
   standard which calls for a large, solid cat, it may be difficult to
   tell if you're overfeeding your cat. It can be hard to distinguish
   between depth of flank and fat. The best thing to do is to watch for
   panting after normal exertion--if it doesn't stop after a short period
   of time, the cat probably has a weight/health problem.
   
   _What do you feed the cat?_
   
   Kittens should get a high quality "growth formula" food for the first
   year of their lives, and adult cats need a balanced maintenance diet.
   It is a good idea to check the contents of any food you want to give
   your cat, and avoid those with high ash/magnesium/potassium content.
   The diet should be divided between dry and moist food, 1/4 moist to
   3/4 dry. A source of fresh water should be provided at all times, and
   changed/filled daily.
   
   _How do I get a Manx?_
   
   Due to the authors' shared beliefs, we are not going to recommend any
   breeders by name in a public FAQ. There are breeder listings in _Cat
   Fancy_ and _Cats_ magazines. A new magazine called _The Manx Line_ is
   available - 6 issues/year at $24, or $4.00 per issue. You may order
   from Lisa Franklin & Joanne Stone at 19324 2nd Avenue NW, Seattle WA
   98177.
   
   Another good place to start would be to visit cat shows in your area
   and talk to the Manx exhibitors there to find someone you feel
   compatible with. Different breeders may specialize in certain colors
   or coat lengths, and you will also see an example of the kind of cat
   the breeder is producing. It is usually better to purchase from a
   local breeder if you can. That way you can see the kitten, its
   parents, and the conditions the kitten is raised in. If you live in an
   area where there are no Manx breeders, get recommendations from other
   breeders. Pictures or even video tape of your new prospective kitten
   may be available from a breeder outside your area.
   
   Prices for pet kittens will be less than those for show/breeder
   quality kittens, so you should know what quality you want, and then be
   prepared to ask more than one breeder about kitten availability. You
   may very well need to go on a "waiting list" for kittens, because
   litters aren't large, and most breeders don't produce huge numbers of
   kittens a year.
   
   You may contact Paul Osmond by e-mail - Paul.Osmond@med.umich.edu,
   Jean Brown by e-mail - arl00sjb@unccvm.uncc.edu, and Marj Baker by
   e-mail - manxy@nwlink.com.
   
   In Canada, contact Sam Cuttell (Rumplestump Manx) by email -
   scuttell@wwdc.com.
   
   Any of us will be happy to talk with you and perhaps even suggest
   breeders to interested individuals privately.
   
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
    Manx FAQ 
    Paul Osmond, Paul.Osmond@med.umich.edu,
    Last updated 8/2/95

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