Characteristics and Temperament
The Manx is a mellow, even-tempered cat, friendly and affectionate. Its origins as a “working” cat are still strongly seen in the breed, and any Manx which lives an outdoor or outdoor/indoor life 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 moment. Manx cats are not prone to restive movement, and even kittens like to curl up in a lap for a nap. Manx do like to get on things, and if you’re looking for your cat, look about the room at eye-level (yours, not the cat’s) on tables and the backs of chairs and on bookcases. Chances are, you’ll spot your cat pretty quickly. Even if your cat is not a “lap cat” in the sense of wanting to be on you all the time, it is still almost always found near you, often gazing at you with devotion in those big round eyes.
The Manx voice is usually very quiet for its size. Even a female in full-blown heat doesn’t make very much noise at all. The Manx has a distinct “trill” which you most often hear from females talking to the kits, but with which they will reply to their people’s verbalizations as well. Your Manx *will* talk to you.
The “watch Manx” is a sight to behold: Many Manx are very protective of their home and any unusual noise or disturbance will cause a low growl and even an attack by a Manx that is very protective. Strange dogs are especially a target of attack.
Manx make good pets for younger children if they grow up with them, because of their even-temperedness. An older Manx may have some difficulty adjusting to the noise and quickness of children, however, since Manx generally prefer a quiet, settled environment. If your home is a quiet one, you’ll find that your young Manx quickly becomes accustomed to that peace and quiet, and simply slamming a door may startle the cat. For the most part, though, Manx aren’t timid cats, and will place a lot of confidence in their people’s reaction to events. A Manx that has been raised in a family environment will transfer easily to another home and remain a happy, playful cat.
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. Many Manx actually love the attention they receive at a show, and enjoy meeting new people. It is uncommon for a Manx to “play” on the judging table however much they might chase toys and race about in your home. They much prefer “kissing up” to the judge, and will deliver “head-butts” to any judge who places his/her face within range. A good ear or chin skritch will cause the show cat to respond by leaning into it, and sticking the rear up higher in the characteristic “stacking” pose of the judging ring.
Manx, unlike many breeds, may be shown for years – as long as they are willing to go and enjoy it, as a matter of fact. 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 show cat could win more than one regional/national title as it gets better and better with the passing of time.
Male and female Manx show equally well in the premiership classes, as both will attain the roundness and “type” for top show ability. In the championship classes, males may have the edge over the females, as the whole queen will come into heat often when shown, and this can cause her temperament to be uneven. Whole males generally maintain a more even disposition, although a male used often as a stud may develop irritability or testiness as time goes by, especially in early spring shows when females come into season.
In choosing a show kitten, rely on the breeder to point out likely kittens. About 80 percent of the time, the promising kitten becomes the excellent adult. There are exceptions, of course, especially after the cat has been spayed/neutered, when the so-so kitten develops into a surprisingly winning cat. This is one thing that makes cat showing thrilling, though, when that occasional “surprise” comes along and brightens your life.
The so-called Manx Syndrome is really a myth. To call it that falsely simplifies what can be a complex set of physical limitations. So, don’t think of problems one may encounter in rumpy kittens as all having the same cause or as being easily relegated to “it’s a Manx thing.”
The gene which causes the taillessness can act on the cat’s body to result in neurological damage, or weaknesses in the bladder and bowels. The gene’s action in shortening the spine may go too far, resulting in severe spinal defects–a gap in the last few vertebrae, fused vertebrae, or spina bifida in newborns. In rare cases, there may even be no anal opening, or one that is so small as to be nonfunctional. Usually a problem rumpy kitten may be identified at or shortly after birth. However, the difficulties may show up in the first few weeks or months of the kitten’s life, usually in the first four weeks, but sometimes as late as four months. It is often characterized by severe bowel and/or bladder dysfunction, or by extreme difficulty in walking.
Reputable, responsible breeders of Manx will generally not let kittens leave the cattery until they have reached at least 14 weeks of age because of the possibility of an unidentified bladder/bowel dysfunction showing up late. In most cases, however, experience will point to a problem in a kitten long before the kit is four months old. Rarely will a breeder have no suspicion of anything wrong and have the dysfunction suddenly appear.
Problems may occur even in a carefully bred litter, but is more likely in the instance when a rumpy is bred to a rumpy in or beyond the third generation. For this reason, breeders carefully track rumpy to rumpy breedings, and use tailed Manx regularly in the breeding program. Generally speaking, a sound breeding between a tailed Manx and a rumpy Manx should produce a litter that is 50% tailed and 50% rumpy, but as we know, what should happen and what does happen are many times two different things. Usually, however, one may rely on this percentage. As long as litters are produced in which the rumpies are strong, healthy and sound, the breeder may feel that the breeding program is on track.
Manx litters tend toward the small side in numbers. Queens can and do “reabsorb” a litter, and speculation says it may be a result of fetuses being severely unsound. Then, too, the short back of the queen leaves less room for large numbers of kittens, and the cat’s body might be compensating for that. A typical Manx litter will be 3 or 4 kittens–more than that may crowd the kits and a female who has a history of large litters needs careful observation during pregnancy to see that all goes well. Litters of 6 or 7 have been successfully delivered, with no problems for the queen, but a sensible precaution with expectant Manx queens is to have the vet x-ray or ultra-sound her a couple of weeks before the due date, to determine the number of kits to expect.
Most breeders will have the tails of Manx kits docked at 3-5 days of age. This is not so much for cosmetic reasons as it is to stave off another possible challenge to the cat’s health. In rare cases, adult cats of around 5 years experience a condition where the tail vertebrae may become ossified and arthritic, resulting in pain for the cat. The pain may grow so severe that amputation is necessary–a difficult operation for an adult cat. Although the condition is rare, most breeders choose to take a quick step so that it will never be an issue. It is much less painful and recovery is much swifter for a very young kitten to have its tail docked than for surgery to be needed to remove the tail of a 5-year-old adult.