Manx Cats: Short Tail Mutation

Manx Syndrome and Implications

Originating on the Isle of Man, the Manx (former Manks) cat is a domestic feline most notable for its lack of tail.

The genetic mutation that causes tail-less cats also frequently results in Manx Syndrome and other severe diseases such as the neurological disease, Spina bifida, due to the effects on the development of the spine and spinal cord. The Manx Syndrome malady may also result in bowel, bladder and digestion problems and causes a predisposition to rump fold intertrigo and corneal dystrophy.

Genetic transmission and Genotype: Tail-lessness in Manx cats is caused by a genetic mutation, an autosomal dominant gene. The cats carry one mutant M gene and one normal m gene therefore all Manx cats have the mutant gene, M, and could produce affected offspring. The Manx gene is a lethal gene.


Tail-lessness, including:

  • ‘Dimple rumpy’ or ‘rumpy’ – no tail whatsoever

  • ‘Stumpy’ – a small partial tail (up to about 3cm)

  • ‘Stubby’ – a short tail

  • ‘Tailed’ or ‘longy’ – having approximately half length to normal tail

  • ‘Riser’ or ‘rumpy riser’ – a bump, or rump of a tail – either just cartilage or a few vertebrae

Why a problem.. Welfare issues surround Manx cats and the methods used to eradicate include breeding tail-lessness cats only with tailed cats. This improved breeding assists with a decrease in Manx Syndrome and is in hopes to avoid the unwanted affects of the mutant gene and the lethal outcomes of breeding two tail-lessness cats together.

Discussion point: Do healthy Manx cats without tails still have issues in relation to balance and communication or is this a misconception?

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Hudson L and Hamilton W (1993) Atlas of Feline Anatomy for Veterinarians. W.B Saunders Company: Philadelphia, USA. pp 30.