How to tell a manx cat

THere’s a little cat whose been coming around our house a lot lately. She’s a little female tabby, probably 2 or 3 years old, who is quite recognizable because she has a very short tail, about 3-4 inches long. I always assumed she was a Manx cat because of the short tail, but somebody suggested that her tail may have been cut off.

I don’t know what kind of sicko would do something like that, but not I’m curious. How do I tell if she’s a manx or not?

The Manx cats I’ve seen have tails no longer than an inch. Some have nothing noticeable, others have nearly an inch.
Either the tail was cut off, or it’s a different type of tail-less cat (I believe there is a species in the far east) or it is a birth defect.

Look around on the site this page is from for a start. :wink:



There’s no such thing as a purebred Manx.

The gene the governs the length of a Manx’s tail is not a gene that toggles “yes tail” or “no tail.” It’s the gene that controls the length of the spinal column; a pure Manx, theoretically, would have no spinal column at all.

The show standard for Manx is stub-free; a slight indentation, in fact, is preferred. This is playing with fire, with this particular gene: many Manx kittens are born with two few vertebrae to survive; many who do survive have limited use, or paralysis, of their hind legs. This is what gives some Manxes their trademark “hopping” gait. Many Manxes are also incontinent. The last time I looked into it (admittedly, almost twenty years ago; one hopes things have changed), Manxes were the only breed which was not disqualified for peeing on the judges’ stand in a cat show. I discovered all this when I bought a Manx cat and was looking into breeding her. I had her spayed instead.

In humans the defect that causes taillessness in Manx cats is called spina-bifida. It causes anything from a dimple to a massive hole at the base of the spine, paraplegia or stillbirth.
It is a birth defect whether human or animal. Breeding for a potentially fatal defect, IMHO, is unethical.

Well, other then the short tail, she looks fairly normal. No unsually gait or movement. In fact, she looks a lot like my last cat, other then some differences in markings and the short tail(so much so that for the longest time, the only way I could quickly seem the apart was by their tails)

I suspect that Manx cats, like all cats, simply won’t be told.

If you are saying that there can be varying lengths of tail, This contradicts the evidence of my eyes. I have seen (rough guess) over a hundred manx cats (on various parts of the Island and not a single one of them had more than a stump. There are also tailed cats here (far more common than the manxies) who all have full length tails. I have never seen anything inbetween.

To the OP.

I don’t mean to defend cruelty, but be thankful it wasn’t a leg they cut off (assuming that’s what happened) and that the cat is alive. The tail is a fairly useless thing (The manx cats seem agile enough without one). There are some far more horrible and serious tales of animal cruelty on the board.

But you are right to be concerned.

Not varying lengths of tail, varying lengths of back. Not having a tail is just a side effect of not having a complete spine. The kittens who survive have enough spine to be viable. You never see the ones who don’t.

As for “who would be so cruel,” it’s sometimes a matter of veterinary necessity.

About two years after we married, we were given a cat, a female stray that took up residence nearby. And she had a litter of seven by another neighbors’ Siamese tom, which we found homes for four of, keeping three – two males and a female. And the female, a feisty little black-and-white which we named Bunny after the rabbit-shaped marking on her side, strayed at six months, was struck by a motorcycle, and came home with most of her tail hanging by a shard of skin. We took her to the vet, who amputated the tail and cleansed the stub – and she lived and took authority over our household for nine more years, with the characteristic hopping gait of a stubtail cat and a proud little two-inch stub.

Who ya callin’ a sicko? :slight_smile:

I amputate probably one cat tail a month. Fight wounds, trauma of unknown origin, abcesses that destroy more tissue than can be repaired without grafts, etc. Most are financial decisions. I can repair the tail for $550 or amputate for $90.

We’ve had a tailless cat for over six years now. The people who gave him to us had rescued his pregnant, feral mother from a shed that was about to be demolished. All of the kittens had little stumps of tails, although the mother herself had a normal-looking one. Until I saw the picture on the link so generously provided above, I never thought of our wild-bred cat as a Manx, but he looks almost like a negative image of the first cat on that site.

His tail is about 2 inches long and crooked over to one side. He has never had any neurological or incontinence problems, although our vet was a little worried when he first examined him, and his gait is more of a jog or bounce than a hop.

Sorry. When I was thinking of a cat’s tail being cut off, I wasn’t thinking that there was any other reason then cruetly. I never thought about the possibility of medical reasons.

For the first time I just decided to browse that site.

Forget tail-less, there’s an Ear-less cat in there :eek:
(click on ‘top breeds’)

Eh, sounds like a plain old cat to me. She could have had her tail amputated for some reason (like Vetbridge said, it happens pretty regularly), or she might just be a bob-tailed cat. It happens sometimes with domestic short hairs, just like having extra toes. My aunt and uncle used to have a whole colony of bob-tailed cats running around their farm.

Naaah. :cool:

The breed name is Scottish Fold (which is listed beneath the photo). I’ve seen these in person, and the ears are there. They just have a “fold” or “tuck” in them, and they lay pretty much flat to the head. And some lay flatter than others. I suspect that the flatter the ears lay, the closer to the breed’s standard. When you can see them in person, they look kinda neat. Or at least I think so. :wink:

As for the Manx cats, I believe they are still used in research into spina bifida; I recall hearing that they were used for that purpose in the past.

Spina bifida is usually “just” a neural tube defect in humans, but an excellent reason for any woman who thinks she might get pregnant to watch her nutrition, as there are two identified possible causes: One is an insufficiency; the other is a surfeit. However, I can’t help thinking there are probably genetic defects as well, or the Manx wouldn’t breed so true.

I encountered a different type of structural defect in dog breeding. Back in the 1980s, when the proof of the (then called HOX) HAX gene in insects was published, I read what was available, studied the relevant pedigrees, and told my mentor and her colleagues that I believed there was a similar gene in mammals. They didn’t quite laugh at me. Less than ten years later, the HAX gene was identified from mammalian genes. It has become widely accepted that the HAX gene is one of the most highly conserved genes in multicellular animals.

TMI for the curious: What the HAX gene does is act as a construction manager for the embryo. It counts off vertebrae, and says, “okay, put a collarbone and limbs here.” It counts off more vertebrae, and says, “okay, put a pelvis here, and add limbs to it.” It then counts off more vertebrae, except that in humans and great apes, it says, “make these few, and fuse 'em.”

How it works for insects is that it makes each body part, head (with feelers, etc.), thorax, then abdomen. It has a body plan which calls for particular appendages at particular spots. Geneticists who work with fruit flies have learned how to have it make the wrong appendage in particular places. And (reward for those who read to the end) that’s why I say that spina bifida could also be a result of a gene defect. <no smiley 'cos it ain’t funny, and the “confused” one conveys the wrong impression>

Deb, for reasons that escape me, actually bought a female Manx kitten a few years ago. The cat got out one time (one time!) and came home pregnant. Her litter included one Manx-appearing cat, two cats with standard tails, and one cat with a 2/3 length tail that has a permanent kink near the tip and that does not “swish” as other cats’ tails do.

(She and her kittens have all been neutered.)