Manx cats are a breed best known for having no tail, however some Manx cats do have full length tails, and additionally not every tailless cat is a Manx. Purebred Manx cats are prone to several health problems, many related to the genetics that also result in them not having a tail, or having a shorter than normal tail.
Totally tailless Manx cats, when bred to totally tailless Manx cats risk passing on a double dose of the tailless gene; which is fatal. As such 1 in 4 kittens of such a cross would be at risk for having double genes, so totally tailless cats should never be bred to totally tailless cats.
Manx cat syndrome is a condition where genetic deformity of lacking a tail has actually affected the spine. It is a condition that affects roughly 20% of the completely tailless Manx cats. Basically the cat has a spinal cord that is too short. These cats will often have problems using their litter box, and generally do not live more than three or four years. Breeders are trying to get away from this by breeding “stumpies” cats that have very small tails rather than “rumpies” or those with no tails. This is one of the reasons why good breeders often do not sell Manx kittens before they are four months old as they want to be sure the kitten is not affected by this problem.
Spina Bifida, or gaps between the vertebra, is another concern for the totally tailless, rumpie, Manx cats. In these cats as well there are often problems with failing to use the litter box correctly.
Arthritis of the Tail
Sometimes Manx kittens are born with deformed, or kinked, tails. These kittens usually have their tails docked to prevent arthritis in their tail which can be a painful problem.
When Buying a Manx Kitten
With Manx kittens in particular it is a good idea to wait until the kitten is at least 4 to 6 months of age. This way it can be determined if the kitten is healthy and using its litter box (when Manx kittens fail to use their litter box it often means they have spinal problems). If the kitten walks with an awkward, stiff, or hobbled, gait, this can also indicate spinal problem. Many of the Manx with spinal problems will have short lifespans. Good breeders are working hard to eliminate some of the genetic problems associated with this breed.