Manx Cat Characteristics

Interpreting the Manx Standard

Author Barbara St. Georges
Drawings by Roberta Little

Re-written/updated 2006
(with permission)
by Karen Weaver

It has been 45 years since I began breeding Manx cats - and it was five years before that when I became aware of them in the show ring and started to love and admire them - 50 years in all. And the same strong, robust, rounded looking cat that I first saw is basically the one that exists today. The CFA Standard has been changed several times over the years, but I don't feel the changes so much affected the Manx Cat as it did the terminology or language of the Standard. True, today's Manx is not as large or rawboned as the Manx in 1954 was, but "the look of a bear", or "round as a ball" appearance is still there.

Trying to think of the proper words to describe any breed is difficult at best; but trying to think of words to describe the perfect Manx has taken years, for it is such a unique cat. No tail- or only a slight rise - great depth of flank - high hind quarters - and a double coat are just a few of the unusual qualities known to this breed. Many famous Manx breeders have contributed long hours and helpful ideas over the years; more recently through the CFA Manx Breed Council; but, prior to this, by sending in standard changes to the CFA Board of Directors. It has been through their efforts and consistent updating of the wording that we have an excellent standard with which we are working today. I really feel the refinement that has come to the Manx cat over the years is due mainly to this better phraseology. For isn't the standard really a breeders guide on how to breed as near perfect a specimen as possible? The standard is written for the perfect cat in all breeds.

Let's look at the CFA Manx Standard. As you can see in the general description, and by drawing #1 the key work in describing the Manx is round, or roundness.
50 points - One half of the total allotted - goes to the head, ears and body. And look at the number of times the word round is used! In fact, this is the key word in the entire standard. For if the Manx has a long body, long head, long neck, or is too fine boned it cannot appear round. Therefore, it cannot receive enough points to conform to the standard and should not receive winners ribbons because too great a number of points have been lost with these faults.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: I think the general description is almost perfect. Even the most uninformed cat person should, on reading this description, know exactly what a Manx looks like. Besides picturing a rounded cat, firm and muscular, as so well described in both the GENERAL and BODY sections. (See Drawing 2.)

HEAD AND EARS: 25 points - The Manx head is very round and jowly with prominent cheeks, more so in the male than in the female. It is medium in length and there is a gentle dip to it's profile. The muzzle is slightly longer than it is broad with a strong chin and a sweet expression. There is a definite whisker break with large, round whisker pads. The ears are medium in size in proportion to the head, widely spaced, giving a "cradle" appearance known only to the Manx. The ears on a short hair have sparse furnishings on them and full furnishings for Longhair Manx.

EYES: 5 points - The Manx eyes should be large, round and full. Brilliant copper is the color desired, of course, but is very difficult to come by. Gold eye color is more realistic keeping in mind the ideal eye color conforms to coat requirements. Eyes are at a slight angle towards the nose with outer corners slightly higher than the inner corners.

BODY: 25 points - The body of the Manx is muscled, compact, well-balanced and solid with sturdy bone structure. The Manx is a stout cat, medium in size with well-sprung ribs and a broad chest. (about 9 to 12 pounds)(See drawing 5.) The repetition of circles and curves gives the Manx the appearance of great substance consisting of power and durability without being coarse.

The back should be short, in proportion to the rest of the cat. It should form a smooth, continuous arch from shoulders to rump. It should curve down at the rump to form a desirable round look. Length of the back should be in proportion to whole cat. The height of the hindquarters should be equal to the length of the body. If the Manx is either too long or too short bodied it will not have a balanced appearance. (See drawings 6 & 7). Males may be slightly larger than females. The Longhair Manx has a longer coat over the rump area and breeches, which could cause the body to appear longer. Consideration for this should be given.

A quality known to the Manx is it's great depth of flank. (The flank is the fleshy area between the ribs and hips on the sides.) The Manx has a greater depth than any others breed, causing considerable depth to the body when viewed from the side. Too little depth of flank and the cat will appear to have a tuck under it's tummy. Too much depth of flank and it will appear flabby.

TAILLESSNESS: 5 points - This unique characteristic is only seen in the Manx. Complete taillessness is, of course, desired, in keeping with the look of the perfect Manx. The rump is to be round and noticeably broad. However, a rise of bone at the end of the spine is allowable. Such cats should not be penalized for this rise unless upon examination, it is of a height which stops the judge's hand thus spoiling the tailless appearance of the cat and becoming a penalizing fault. If the overall qualities of the Manx with a rise are better than that of a tailless specimen, the one with the rise should win.

LEGS AND FEET: 15 points - Over all, should be heavily boned and straight, not spindly. A Manx with fine boned legs is a strange looking cat. (See Drawing 9.) Manx front legs are short and set apart to accommodate a broad, deep chest. Hind legs are heavy with muscular thighs, much longer than the front which causes the rump to be higher than the shoulders. Paws contain five toes in the front and four in the back.

COAT: 20 points (10 Length , 10 Texture) - The coat of the Manx, worth 20 points, helps to accentuate the round appearance. Not all Manx have a true double coat and, quite often, even those that do completely lose the cottony undercoat in the summer, leaving them sometimes with a single, non-showable, coat. When in "Top Show" condition, the Manx coat should glisten with cleanliness; good care and good health will show their rewards.

COLOR AND MARKINGS: 5 points - Manx colors and patterns are described in the breed standard, it can be found on the CFA website under breeds and colors. Color/patterns showing evidence of hybridization (chocolate/lavender/ticked tabby/pointed or these combinations with white) are not allowed in CFA. Cats with no more white than a locket and/or button(s) do not qualify for the bi-color or OMC Class. Such cats shall be judged in the color class of their basic color with no penalty for such locket or button(s).

The Manx is a very friendly, affectionate, and playful cat as a rule. With its powerful hind legs, it can jump higher than one would imagine. Some Manx cats bond with an individual or a family and has difficulty when placed in a different home and some readily accept attention from any human. The Manx often exhibits very dog-like behavior. It might play "fetch", growl at an unidentified disturbance, or follow it's owner around.

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