Manx cat can be described as a breed of domestic cat that was originated on the Isle of Man, with a obviously occurring transformation that shortens the tail. Many Manx have a small stub of a tail, but Manx cats are best known as being entirely tailless; this is the most distinguishing characteristic of the breed, along with elongated hind legs and a rounded head.
Manx cats have been exhibited in cat shows, as a named, distinct breed (and with the modern spelling “Manx”), since the late 1800s. In that era, few shows provided a Manx division, and exhibited specimens were usually entered under the “Any Other Variety” class, where they often could not compete well unless “exceptionally good in size and markings”.
Early pet breeding and showing expert Charles Henry Lane, himself the owner of a prize-winning rare white rumpy Manx named “Lord Luke”, published the first known (albeit informal) breed standard for the Manx in his 1903 Rabbits, Cats and Cavies, but noted that already by the time of his writing “if the judge understood the variety” a Manx would be clearly distinguishable from some other tailless cat being exhibited, “as the make of the animal, its movements and its general character are all distinctive.”
The Manx breed is genetically distinct from the Japanese Bobtail breed, another naturally occurring insular breed. The Japanese Bobtail always has at least some tail, ranging from a small “pom” to a stubby but distinct tail, which is kinked or curled and usually has a slightly bulbous and fluffy appearance; by contrast, the Manx has a straight tail when one is present at all.
The Japanese Bobtail has a markedly different appearance from the Manx, and is characterized by almond-shaped eyes, a triangular face, long ears, and lean body, like many other Asian breeds.
The gene responsible for the bobbed or kinked tail in that breed is recessive and unrelated to the dominant Manx tail-suppression gene; the bobtail gene is not connected to any serious deformities, while the tail-suppression gene can, under certain conditions, give rise to a pattern of sometimes lethal health problems. The Pixie-bob breed also has a short tail which may or may not be genetically related or identical to that of the Manx.
The soft, short coat of the Manx is easily cared for with weekly brushing or combing to remove dead hair and distribute skin oil. Check the rear end closely to make sure feces aren’t clinging to the fur surrounding the anus, and clean it if necessary to prevent the cat from smearing poop on carpets or furniture.
Brush the teeth to prevent periodontal disease. Daily dental hygiene is best, but weekly brushing is better than nothing. Wipe the corners of the eyes with a soft, damp cloth to remove any discharge.
Use a separate area of the cloth for each eye so you don’t run the risk of spreading any infection. Check the ears weekly. If they look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball or soft damp cloth moistened with a 50-50 mixture of cider vinegar and warm water. Avoid using cotton swabs, which can damage the interior of the ear.