The Manx: The Tailless Cat

My first experience with a Manx cat was entirely accidental. I had agreed to add a cat to our small family of myself, my son, and our dog Trinity. As you can probably guess this was at the urging of the aforementioned son, and I had serious doubts as to how Trinity would take the new addition. But being raised in the country, I had to admit missing the presence of a feline, so I relented. My son's one request was for a calico kitten.

Enter CAT

Our local radio station has a program called Sell and Swop Shop--and yes, it is just as corny as it sounds. Wouldn't you know that someone called in with calico kittens to give away? We made the call and visited them. By the time we got there, they only had one kitten left. A small little black, white, and orange thing with a little crooked half-tail that ended in a knot. Needless to say, our family grew by one that day. At the time I had no idea that I had just been introduced to the Manx cat.

What I realized very soon, however, was that this kitten was like no other I had ever known. And that isn't just in appearance, although her appearance was different from most cats, to say the least...more on that later. It started as early as the drive home when we were trying to decide on a name. I really wanted to name her Harley, because her beautiful little round face was almost perfectly divided--half orange and half black. Every name we tried a name, she would give a little sneeze and shake of her head...and we went through several, believe me. Finally I told her if she wasn't careful, we would end up calling her C-A-T. Would you believe she approved of that name? So CAT she was.

The other differences, you ask? Well, for starters, she got along with our dog, Trinity, just fine right from the start. I'm not sure if she thought she was a dog too, or if maybe Trinity thought she was a cat, but the fact remains the two of them became sisters at sight. They would literally play together, taking turns chasing each other up and down our long hallway. It was a hoot to watch.

Cats as a whole are very smart creatures. CAT was almost unbelievably intelligent. At times you cManx CatCredit: Wikimedia Commons: Public Domainould just look at her and see the wheels turning in her brain as she reasoned something out. I often teased my son that she wasn't truly a cat, but an alien sent to study our species. At times, that seemed the only logical explanation for some of the things she came up with.

So far I've mentioned the Manx's ability to get along with other species (namely of the canine and human variety) and the incredible smartness (and sometimes smart-alecness) of the breed. But there are physical differences, too.

The Physical Look of a Manx

A Manx has a little round head on top of a very rounded body. The body appears rounded because, unlike the other cat breeds, the Manx's back legs are actually longer than their front legs. This is what gives them their bunny-hop of a running gait. And contrary to what most people believe, not all Manx are tailless. Some have no tail, others have stubs, and still others have long normal tails.

If you are in the market to adopt a cat or kitten, I would absolutely--and with no reservations--recommend a Manx. If you want a full-blooded Manx, you will most likely have to contact a cattery and be put on a waiting list for a kitten. Otherwise, check out your local Pet Shelters, or for a Manx cat. Once you see them run, you'll know whether or not they have the Manx genes.

It is with a sad heart that I write this, but the alien mothership came back for CAT on February 23, 2011. Or at least I like to think it did. It left a little calico body to be buried with honors in my back yard. But her spirit is alive and flitting through the heavens now, I just know it. We had fifteen wonderful years together and my life was all the better for having been owned by her for that time.

Once you are owned by a Manx cat, you can never truly look at a cat in the same way.