Monday, 28 January 2013

Pedigrees of the World - The Manx

The A-Z of Cats
Pedigrees of the World - The Manx


The Manx is distinguished by its lack of a tail.  Many romantic legends exist to explain the lack of a tail and some of these may be close to the truth.  This tailessness is due to a dominant gene.  Only one parent needs to possess the characteristic in order to pass it on to the kittens. Just one mutant could easily start a strain of Manx cats in a good environment.  This natural mutation is thought to have originated on the Isle of Man, which is located in the Irish Sea half way between Liverpool, England and Belfast, Ireland, hence the name Manx.  Because of the island's relative isolation, the breed thrived there. The first documented picture comes from an 1810 painting; while no one knows how long the tailless cats have been on the Isle of Man, linguistic evidence suggests they may have been introduced sometime after 1750.  In the late 1800’s Mr. Gambier Bolton, the first Secretary of the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy and a Manx specialist, wrote an account of Spanish ships that were wrecked on the Spanish Rock, close to the Isle of Man in 1558.  Supposedly, some tailess cats onboard the ship took refuge on the Rock, before making their way ashore at low tide.  These cats are purported to be the forebears of all tailess cats, known as Manx, which have now spread around the world.  King Edward VII, had Manx cats himself, which gave the breed a boost in popularity.  It has been proven that the Traditional Manx has no relationship to the Japanese Bobtail, who’s short tail is governed by a recessive rather than a dominant gene.  This rules out any connection between the two breeds.

Mythology and Folklore of the Manx Cat

There are many ideas as to how the Manx Cats might have come into being. Listed here are some tales:
 - When filling the ark and the rains came down, a cat was late to board.  While apologising for the delay, she promised to pay for her keep. "I will catch mice to pay my way," the Manx told Noah.  So Noah opened the hatch, and she came slowly as cats are wont to do, and the hatch came down and cut off her tail.
 - Another version of the same folktale is that the dog disliked the cat from the start and it was he who bit off her tail, for spite.
 - Cats from ships wrecked on the coasts around the Isle of Man came ashore and made the Island their home.
 - Mother cats bit off the tails of their kittens to keep them from being snatched by the invading Scandinavians, who cut off the tails and used them for decorating their helmets.
 - Another story suggests that Phoenician ships brought the cat from Japan.
 - Tales from the Isle of Man, where the Manx is thought to have originated, have a distinctly Celtic flavour. For instance, cats who are put out at night and find their way in again are thought to have been let in by “little people.”  The king of the Manx is a cat by day, and a little faery king by night - it is said that he travels the lanes in a fiery carriage.  Woe to the person who has treated the cat king poorly that day, for when night comes, so too, does the king's vengeance.

Manxes have have double coats; the outer coat is thick, while the undercoat is cottony and soft.  Some Manxes have long hair.  At one time, breeders either euthanized these kittens or sold them as pets. Thankfully, a breeding program was established in the 1970s. Today longhaired Manxes are called Cymrics, derived from Cymru, the Welsh or Celtic word for Wales.  It is correctly pronounced (KOOM-rick) but ordinarily pronounced (KIM-rick).   The "Manx gene" produces cats with tails of varying length, from the "longie" (normal tail) to the "stumpy" (short tail) to the "rumpy" (no tail).  Manx cats are very stocky and rounded in appearance, with short backs and long hind legs that make them appear rather rabbit-like.  A wide variety of colours and patterns are available; however, red or brown tabbies are the most common.  The Manx is a very friendly, even-tempered cat, which is great as a family pet.  Its origins as a "working" cat are still strongly seen in the breed, and any Manx who has free access to the outside 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 time.  Manx do like to get on things, on tables, the backs of chairs and on bookcases; even the top of kitchen cupboards!!   Manx are a very sociable breed who get on well with most other pets, including dogs and rabbits.  They are no more or less susceptible to feline diseases than any other breed.

The Manx voice is usually quiet for its size. The Manx has a distinct "trill" which you most often hear from females talking to the kittens, but with which they will reply to their people's verbalizations as well.  Your Manx will most likely talk to you.  Manx make good pets for younger children if the kitten grows up with them, because of their even-temperedness. An older Manx may have some difficulty adjusting to the noise and quickness of children.  The Manx is a very playful cat as a rule.  It has been stated by one Manx owner that "Manx are the feline sport cars of the cat world, with their acceleration and quick turns".

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.  Manx, unlike many breeds, may be shown for years - as long as they are willing to go and enjoy it.  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 title as it gets better and better with the passing of time. 

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