Manx Breed Council

Manx History


The Manx Cat

The Manx cat is believed to have originated hundreds of years ago on the Isle of Man, which is located 221 square miles off the coast of England. A spontaneous mutated gene, which carried a dominant trait, occurred at some point from a population of cats. It is believed these cats shared common ancestry from the same roots as the British Shorthair.

The mutation created some 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. Both longhair and shorthair traits were represented in the original mutation.

The Isle of Man

The Manx cat was a popular, well-established breed in England long before the birth of the cat fancy there in the 1870's. Around the year 1820, the Hurley family owned a large farm and their own sailing vessels in Toms River, New Jersey. Their sailing adventures often took them far away. It is believed that on one trip they brought back with them tailless cats from England, which were said to have came originally from the Isle of Man. This is the earliest account known of Manx cats in America. CFA recognized the breed in early stud book #19 around the 1920's. Manx-type cats may have existed in other places as early as the 1500's.

Here is an old photograph, showing a lady feeding a group of Manx cats in her kitchen.

Manx Stories

Want to know why Manx cats have no tails? We'll tell some stories and you can pick the one you like best.

Old 600 year Noah had herded all the animals onto the Ark, and it was pouring down rain. Then he missed the cats. He called and called; finally, the cats apeared, ambling leisurely through the wet grass, pausing now and than to shake a dainty foot. Noah slammed the door too hard, and too quickly when they entered, and that is why Manx have no tails.

Long ago on the Isle of Man, warriors trimmed their war helmets with the long fluffy tails that Manx cats wore in those days. One wise old mammakat (one of our ancestors) sensing that the cats of Man were facing extinction climbed the very highest mountain and gave birth to five kits. Just as each was born, she gently chewed off its tail. When they grew up, she explained why they had no tails, and when the girls married, she made them promised to do likewise when their babies came. And so on, and that's why most of us are now tailless. Or perhaps you like the less romantic tale that the first tailless cat came from one of the ships of the Spanish Armade that was wrecked upon a rock near Man. The cat swam to the Isle of Man and is supposedly the ancestor who started this tailless business. It's surely true that most of us like water. But oh, what a joy to be tailless!

NO big feet to step on us...

NO hands to pull us by the tails...

NO refrigerator doors chopping off our tail...

NO silly tails dragging behind us when we want to run or jump...

NO tails to be scorched in the heaters... YEA, MANX!

Hand pawed by Tyoh, Kalista, Ganzy and Jurby, reprinted from the 1965 Parade of Royalty.

Once upon a time in the Isle of Man there lived A Lady Pussycat and a Gentleman Hare. They loved each other and decided to get married. But ---- who were the children to take after? It was agreed between the parents That they should have the head and body of their mother and the legs of their father. And the tail? Oh dear! Should it be long or should it be short? The whole Island is in an uproar, some for the long and some for the short. The clamor was so great that it reached the ears of the Almighty. He, in His great wisdom, decreed that none of the children should have a tail ---- And peace was restored to the beautiful Island.

...Hence the Manx cat

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Last Updated - SJB - 11/11/11