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Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Bobbin: The Tale of a Cat with No Tail

Like many of you, I am owned by a cat. Not just any cat though, I am owned by a Manx. Some of you are probably familiar with the breed, but if you aren’t, pull up a chair- I’ll fill you in. 

I have always been a dog person and have two small dogs and never thought of myself as becoming a cat lady. Growing up on a farm, I realized cats are functional and have purpose, unlike my little dogs that just snuggle and bark.

When I moved into my house, I rescued Button, a beautiful little tuxedo kitty. Button is a typical cat. She is aloof and timid and very smart, but one day, I decided she needed a friend. My decision process was very strategic. I had a white dog, a black dog and a black and white cat. I needed a gray kitty.

I was on vacation and my daughter and her kids went to the cat rescue and shelter to see my choices. They fell in love with a little gray kitty that had no tail. I couldn’t see his bottom in the photos but knew immediately when I saw him, he was “the one” and he became Bobbin, the Manx. 

Manx cats are best known for having no tail. This is a natural mutation that occurs in the breed. There are several variations of tails- No tail at all is a rumpy, a tiny one vertebra tail is a rumpy riser, a short tail is a stumpy, a partial tail is a stubby and a full tail is longy. Bobbin is a rumpy.

The Manx originated and has existed for many centuries on the Isle of Man, located in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland. The isle didn’t have an indigenous feline species, so it is believed that domestic cats were introduced by human settlers and explorers. Exactly who and when is unknown.

There are many tales about the cat with no tail. One says the cats were survivors of shipwreck from the Spanish Armada that wrecked on the Isle of Man in 1588. These cats supposedly swam ashore at Spanish Point and set up mousekeeping. Another story claims that the Manx was introduced by Phoenician traders who brought the cats from Japan. Still another says that cats arrived with Viking settlers.

Regardless of how cats got on the Isle, they probably arrived with their tails intact. Geneticists believe that the Manx’s lack of tail is the result of a spontaneous mutation within the Isle’s domestic cat population. 

Inhabitants of the Isle, unaware of or unimpressed with science, invented more interesting tales to account for the Manx’s lacking. One contends that the Manx is an impossible mix between a cat and a rabbit. Another claims that Irish invaders stole the cats’ tails to use for their helmet plumes. A third says two Manx cats were passengers on Noah’s Ark, but they were the last to board and Noah slammed the door cutting off their tails.

Modern history is a less exciting. The Manx was a well-established and popular breed, supported by an enthusiastic group of Manx owners. King Edward VIII reportedly was fond of this breed and often attended cat shows. The British formed the first Manx club in 1901. 

The Manx journeyed to America by the 1880s (and probably earlier), as Manx cats are noted in earliest American cat registry records.

Manx cats were at first transported from the Isle of Man but, as the demand grew, the supply waned. Today, Manx cats are in great demand because of their rarity, but pets can be found at adoption organizations fairly easily. Bobbin and his sisters were all orphaned from a feral mother.

The Manx has many unique characteristics. They generally have a broad chest with sloping shoulders and flat sides. They are muscular and lean. Their hind legs are notably longer than the fore legs causing the rump to be higher than the shoulder and creating a continuous arch from shoulders to rump giving the cat an overall rounded or humped appearance. Most notably, they walk funny and some even hop.

The Manx’s personality is unique from most cats. They are like little dogs in a cat’s body. They make great companions. They are intelligent and fun-loving and manage to express themselves even without a tail.  Manx are particularly noted for their strong bonds of devotion and loyalty to their humans and enjoy spending quality time owning them or racing around the house after a fly or toy or playing with a pipe cleaner. 

Manx are exceptional jumpers because of their powerful back legs. If sufficiently motivated or bored, they will find a way into the most secure cupboard. No shelf is safe from this high-flying cat. 

They get along particularly well with other cats and well-behaved dogs. Despite their playful temperament, they are usually very gentle and can be great with children. They are extremely curious and fascinated by water; perhaps this fascination comes from originating on a small piece of land surrounded by the liquid?

The Manx is a symbol for the Isle of Man and its unique culture. You can find its likeness on many tourist goods such as various coins, stamps, and postcards. 

You will generally find my Manx, Bobbin, on my lap or on the arm of the chair beside me.

Last week, I was thinking about how much I really love Bobbin and how much joy he brings me- most of the time.  These will be ready in June.  Maybe a Zip or a Stitch to go with my Button and Bobbin? I might become a cat lady afterall. 


  1. Our Manx was exactly as described, Sherri. However, ours had a genetic urinary problem and passed away a couple of months ago. He was a loving companion but full of mischief and curiosity. If not for Hero, I would definitely be a cat lady. LOL However, Hero is the one who makes certain the local feral cats have food on our patio.

    1. Caroline- Of all people I knew you would understand being owned by a Manx. Further research shows they can be rather delicate and disease prone - which is a shame because they are so loving.

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  3. Thank you for the very interesting post. Have cats so always fun to learn more about other breeds like these special felines.

    1. Thanks Gina! Nothing better than being owned by a cat! 😺

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  6. Sherri, we had a Manx when I was a teen. Another feature of the Manx is that their hind legs are higher than their front legs. Our Manx, Chilly Willy, was a large feline who thought he was our guardian. He lay on the outside window ledges at night and ambushed any dog who dared to venture into our yard. It didn't take long for the dogs who roamed free in the neighborhood to avoid our yard.

    1. I can certainly see how that could happen. Bobbin is about twice as heavy as tuxedo kitty Button. Oh and those legs! He jumped about six feet straight up onto a macrame lamp a few months back and rode it to the end table below. Always into something!

  7. Thanks for sharing the history, real and fictitious, of Manx cats. I've had many cat companions over the years but never a Manx. I enjoyed finding out more about them.

    1. Thanks Lyn, I have also had many cats- and Bobbin is my first Manx. I am in a Manx FB site and evidently this breed is known for its quirky personality. He actually runs out to meet guests- white tuxedo kitty hides under the bed.


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