From: The Book of the Cat by Frances Simpson.
THE BOOK OF THE CAT, FRANCES SIMPSON.
THESE quaint cats are rapidly and surely coming into notice in the fancy. As a breed they are intelligent and affectionate, and, I believe, splendid sporting cats. They are undoubtedly great favourites amongst the sterner sex, perhaps because they are such keen and plucky ratters. As a breeder of Persian cats, and having become used to the beautiful wide-spreading tails of these cats, I confess there is something grotesque and unfinished, to my eyes, in the Manx, and from choice I should not care to keep these tailless pussies as pets. They do not appeal to me and to my sense of the beautiful. Having, therefore, never kept or bred Manx cats, I feel diffident in writing about them ; but I have carefully studied those exhibited, and have also had opportunities of judging of their points whilst visiting friends who have fallen victims to the fascinations of these curious felines. I know a good Manx when I see one, and to prove this assertion I will tell an incident in connection with a prize-winning Manx of to-day. A friend of mine living in London took compassion on a little stray black kitten who came crying for food. She fed him, and repeatedly tried to find poor pussy's owner, but in vain. I was appealed to know what had better be done, and when I saw the little black fellow I strongly recommended my friend to keep it and exhibit it at the next large show, as I considered he would go in and win easily. She followed my advice in the latter respect, but placed too low a figure on "Nig" as she declared she did not wish to go in for Manx. I warned her he would be sold, and sure enough that clever and astute judge of cats of uncommon breeds, Mrs. H. C. Brooke, snapped him up at catalogue price; and since then he has blossomed forth into a champion, and as "King Clinkie" has taken highest honours whenever shown. It is only just to state that Mrs. Brooke most generously handed over some of her winnings to "King Clinkie's" former owner.
A lady friend of mine, who was brought up in the Isle of Man, has told me that she always understood that Manx cats came from a cross with a rabbit, but if this supposition is correct it seems too strange to be true that cats and rabbits should only form matrimonial alliances in the little island off our coast! It would appear more probable, therefore, that a foreign breed of cat was brought to the island, and the following article from the pen of Mr. Gambier Bolton gives his ideas on the subject:
"In the Isle of Man to-day we find a rock named the Spanish Rock, which stands close into the shore, and tradition states that here one of the vessels of the Spanish Armada went down in the memorable year 1558, and that among the rescued were some tailless cats which had been procured during one of the vessel's voyages to the Far East. The cats first swam to the rock, and then made their way to the shore at low tide; and from these
have sprung all the so-called Manx cats which are now to be found in many parts of Great Britain, Europe, and America.
"The tale seems a bit 'tall', and yet the writer feels so satisfied of its truth that he would welcome any change in the name of this peculiar variety of the domestic cat to sweep away the idea that they sprang from the Isle of Man originally.
"Any traveler in the Far East Japan, China, Siam, and the Malay region who is a lover of animals must have noticed how rarely one meets with a really long-tailed cat in these regions, for instead one meets with the kink-tailed (i.e. those with a bend or screw at the tip of the tail), the short kink-tailed (i.e. those with a screw tail like the bull-dogs), the forked-tailed (i.e. those having tails which start quite straight, but near the tip branch out into two forks), and finally the tailless (or miscalled Manx) cats ; and the naturalist Kæmpfer states definitely that the specimens of this breed now so common in parts of Russia all came originally from Japan. Again, anyone who breeds these tailless cats, and keeps the breed quite pure, must have noticed how they differ in appearance and habits from the common short-haired cats. They are, and should be, much smaller in size ; the coat should be longer and more 'rabbity'; the 'call' is much nearer that of the jungle cat of the East than that of the ordinary cat ; and their habits, like those of the Siamese cats, are much more dog-like. In all these points they keep closely to what the writer firmly believes to be their original type, the domesticated cats of the Far East.
"The photographs illustrating this article give some idea of the general appearance of these delightfully quaint little creatures, and one notices immediately the great point that all judges look for, viz., the high hind quarters, which is so typical of the tailless breed of cats, the few hairs, which represent the spot where the tail should be, constantly appearing even a few hours after birth, although there is not a sign of a caudal appendage beneath them.
"Kink-tailed, screw-tailed, fork-tailed, and absolutely tailless cats have all been exhibited at British shows of recent years, and the writer, from a personal knowledge of nearly all breeds, has no hesitation in recommending the latter as companions, their quaint and doglike ways making them general favorites whenever they are met with.
THE PROGENY OF A TAILLESS CAT OF THE ISLE OF MAN.
A cat brought from the Isle of Man (felis catus anura) to S. Germain en Lave, of which the pedigree is unknown, was mated with ordinary long-tailed cats, and among twenty-four kittens the four following different kinds appeared:
I. Kittens with ordinary long tails.
II. Kittens with short and stump tails.
III. Kittens without tails, like the mother.
IV. Kittens without the least sign of a tail.
The comparison between the influence of the sire and that of the dam on the young is interesting:
1 litter. 1 kitten like the mother.
2 litter. 6 kittens, 5 like the mother, 1 like the father.
3 litter. 5 kittens, 3 like the mother, 2 like the father.
4 litter. 3 kittens. 1 like the mother, 2 like the father.
5 litter. 4 kittens. 1 like the mother, 3 like the father.
6 litter. 5 kittens. 3 like the mother, 2 like the father.
It will be seen that the influence of the mother predominates.
Manx cats may be considered shy breeders, and constantly the litter will consist of one kitten only! I have been told that they are excellent mothers; but, in the words of a Manx fancier, "they only care to have one family a year, many queens won't breed at all, and heaps of males are very funny and take no notice of their wives! " Another breeder of Manx informs me that these cats seem entirely fearless with dogs, and that her canines arid felines live together in perfect amity. I believe Mr. H. C. Brooke once exhibited a Manx in the same pen as a bull-dog at the South London Bull-dog Show of 1893. And now, having mentioned Mr. Brooke's name, I am pleased to say that this well-known and successful fancier of Manx, as well as foreign, cats has kindly written an article on this variety, which is his pet specialty:
"On this breed I think I may claim to write with some authority, as I have kept it for a number of years, and it has always been my favorite breed of cat. I believe I may, without boasting, say that I have of late years been of some service to the breed, by constantly agitating for the Manx classes to be entrusted to judges who take some interest in the variety; for it is a lamentable fact that there are numbers of people, good judges of the more popular breeds, who are quite willing to adjudicate upon the Manx classes without possessing the slightest qualifications, and these usually merely judge the Manx as a tailless cat, which is all wrong. During the last few years I am glad to say that the National Cat Club, at almost all its shows, instead of tacking the Manx classes on to the list of any all-round judge, has appointed capable judges ; and whilst, of course, no judge has ever succeeded in pleasing all concerned (except when there was only one entry in the class), the awards at these shows have always been reasonable and sound, and free from the absurdities which too often sicken fanciers and render the judge ridiculous at other shows. When we find an all-round judge openly stating that a Manx is but a tailless cat, and that he could manufacture perfect specimens, it is high time that that judge's name, however excellent a judge he may be of other breeds, should be inscribed upon the tablets of every Manx fancier's memory, and when he again officiates he should be saved the trouble of going over cats which he neither likes nor understands.
"If breeders of Manx were more careful, there should be no difficulty in obtaining litters without any tail whatever. No cat can be a really typical Manx who is long-cast in the body. A short, cobby body is an essential in a show Manx. So also is a round, short skull. These points are usually noticeable when the kittens are young; as they grow older they disappear, frequently to return when the cat has outgrown its kittenhood. But the most important Manx property is the great length of hind leg, which absolutely marks the typical Manx as a cat quite distinct from a tailless cat; with this should be coupled a round, guinea-pig-like rump, round as an orange, which, of course, can only be obtained when there is absolutely no tail. Even a tuft of gristle or hair, as found in many of the best specimens, though in itself but a very trifling defect, detracts from this typical 'rumpy' appearance, by giving a more or less angular appearance to the hind quarters, unless, that is, it be situated so far back between the hipbones that it in no way projects. As typical specimens showing this rumpy formation to perfection, I may mention the late 'Champion and Premier Katzenjammer', and 'Ballochmyle Bell Stump', probably two of the best ever seen in this respect. Had these two been mated, what glorious progeny should have resulted. Now these two cats, whilst possessing the round rumpy formation to perfection, did not excel so much in length of hind leg, and for superlative excellence in this property we must turn to another celebrated couple, the late silver tabby 'Champion and Premier Bonhaki' and 'King Clinkie', who has just passed into the possession of Lady Marcus Beresford, and who at the age of about fifteen months has already twice won championship awards. Now, these two cats exhibited the great length of hind leg which gave them when in motion the desired comical rabbity action; but in roundness of rump they lost to the other two, being somewhat more angular.
"The fur of the Manx should be just a little longer and softer than that of the ordinary short-haired cat. Now and then we see long-haired Manx advertised, but these are, of course, mongrels or abortions, and by no means Manx cats.
Ran high and dry on Ararat.
His dog then made a spring, and took
The tail from off a pussy cat.
Puss through the window quick did fly,
And bravely through the waters swam,
Nor ever stopped, till, high and dry,
She landed on the Isle of Man.
Thus tailless puss earned Mona's thanks,
And ever after was called Manx.
"The most feasible explanation, in my opinion, though of course it can be but a theory, is that these cats were originally imported from the East. Asiatic cats of domestic varieties show remarkable variety in the shape of their tails, as witness the kinks often found in the tail of the Siamese cat, and the knot tails of other varieties. This subject will be referred to again in a subsequent paper.
"It is also noticeable that many Manx, like the Siamese, are very dog-like in their habits, showing extreme affection for their owners. Poor old 'Katzenjammer', for instance, would follow me to the railway station, and many a time on my return, from town have I found him sitting in the middle of a field waiting for me, and on seeing me he would accompany me home just like a dog.
"In conclusion, I would advise Manx fanciers to do their best to accustom their cats to seeing strangers, to being handled, and to the show pen; for when a cat is nervous and crouches in a heap it is most difficult to see whether the desired shape of hind quarters and rabbity action are present. They can best be seen when the cat holds itself fearlessly and boldly; and when a judge has a large number of classes to get through in a short space of time, in very likely an ill-lighted building, he cannot spend half an hour coaxing each cat to show its action."