It’s a well-known fact that tails are an important part of a cat’s physique and play an important role in helping cats balance, capture prey, and communicate with humans and each other. For these reasons, you’d imagine that nature would gift all cats with a nice, long tail, but this isn’t the case. Some breeds, like the Manx and American Bobtail, are born tailless or with a “stump” rather than a long tail.
Furthermore, some cats lose their tails due to amputation and many of these cats learn to adapt to their new lives without a tail. In this post, we’ll discuss tailless breeds in a bit more detail and explain why some cats are born without tails.
Why Don’t Some Cats Have a Tail?
If a cat is born without a tail or with a stump of a tail, it was caused by a genetic anomaly, also known as a mutant gene. This dominant gene results in the tail and the part of the spinal cord in front of it growing abnormally. Manx cats have two genes—a dominant gene (M) and a recessive gene (m), which can create the heterozygous combination Mm, which will manifest as a cat with no tail or a very short one.
Breeding two tailless Manx can be dangerous, as the double M gene can cause the kittens to die before birth. For this reason, Manx breeders mate cats with tails with tailless cats instead of two tailless cats.
If a cat was born with a tail but loses it to amputation, it’s likely that the cat suffered a traumatic tail injury. In some cases, vets decide that it would be better to remove the injured tail to give the cat a better quality of life. Most cats fully recover from the procedure and go on to lead normal, happy lives despite missing a tail.
Do Tailless Cats Suffer from Health Issues?
In some cases, yes. Tailless cats suffer from health issues as a result of not having a tail, particularly Manx syndrome, which can cause bowel and bladder dysfunction amongst other issues.
Which Cat Breeds Are Tailless?
More than you’d imagine! The Manx cat is far from the only breed without a tail, so let’s take a closer look at some of these breeds and what makes them unique and special. This is not an extensive list.
Manx cats originate from the Isle of Man, where they used to be referred to as a “stubbin”. They can be long or short-haired, and it is believed that the long-haired gene dates back to Viking times. Long-haired Manx are referred to as “Cymric”.
Personality-wise, Manx cats are pretty relaxed, affectionate, and family-oriented, though they can be a little reserved with strangers.
American Bobtails originated in the U.S. in the 1960s. Famous for their stumpy, bobbed tails, wild-looking appearance, and rumors that they descended from bobcats (these rumors are untrue, by the way), American Bobtails have been a great source of fascination for cat lovers over the years. These beautiful cats are known for being playful, chatty when in a good mood, and devoted to their families.
The Pixie-bob is another bobbed tail cat breed with the power to turn heads wherever they go. Like the American Bobtail, they have an uncanny resemblance to wild cats with spotty coats and large, muscular bodies. Pixie-bobs are active, curious, sociable, and adorably nosy, with a particular penchant for getting involved in their humans’ day-to-day activities, even the most mundane ones.
Highlander cats first came about in 1993 and were bred to have a “wild” look, and are a cross between the Jungle Curl and Desert Lynx. Highlander cats are sweet-natured, energetic, good with (sensible) children, and family-friendly. Like other bob-tailed breeds, they’re stocky and muscular in appearance.
In brief, it’s certainly not true that all cats have tails! Some are tailless due to genetics or surgery, and some have “stumps” rather than long tails. Whatever kind of tail they’ve got, one thing’s for sure—tailless or bob-tailed cats are wonderful characters renowned for having bags of energy and love to give in addition to being ridiculously cute. Any family would be lucky to have one!
Featured Image Credit: Dimitris Vetsikas, Pixabay