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Manx Cat vs American Bobtail Cat: What’s the Difference? (With Pictures)

The Manx Cat and the American Bobtail Cat share one obvious physical characteristic: they both have short, cropped tails. However, while the bobtail cat has the eponymous bobbed tail, the Manx is more likely to have no tail at all. Both breeds are also considered intelligent and friendly, making them both a good choice of family or house cat.

However, they have very different origins, somewhat different physical characteristics and shape, and while both breeds do require regular grooming, one is higher maintenance than the other.

Read on to learn of the differences between these two short-tailed breeds, as well as some traits that they both share, and to determine which is the most suitable breed to welcome to your family.

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Visual Differences

manx vs american bobtail_side by side
Image Credit: (L) PradaBrown, Shutterstock | (R) OrangeGroup, Shutterstock

At a Glance

Manx Cat
  • Average height (adult): 7–11 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 8–12 pounds
  • Lifespan: 9–14 years
  • Exercise: Moderate
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Intelligent, eager to please, take well to training
American Bobtail Cat
  • Average height (adult): 9–12 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 8–16 pounds
  • Lifespan: 13–15 years
  • Exercise: Moderate
  • Grooming needs: Moderate to Heavy
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Intelligent, somewhat eager to please, can take well to training
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Manx Cat Overview

tricolor manx cat
Image Credit: PradaBrown, Shutterstock

The Manx is considered one of the world’s oldest breeds and hails from the Isle of Man, off the coast of England. The island is relatively small, and the relatively confined area of breeding meant that the genetic mutation lacking a tail had spread throughout the population. This same genetic mutation can cause some health problems, which means that the breed does need careful health monitoring to ensure a long and healthy life. Manx cats can be tailless, have a small stump of a tail, or have a full tail.

Appearance

The most obvious physical characteristic of the Manx cat is its tail. A genetic mutation causes a deformation of the spine that can cause a lack of tail, although many Manx cats do have a tail stump and some are born with full tails.

Other than its tail, the Manx has a round head and round body with muscular legs. The breed can be shorthaired or longhaired, which will determine the amount of grooming and care required.

Personality

The Manx is considered a friendly cat, but it can take time to warm to strangers. Once it bonds with its family, the Manx can be difficult to shake. The friendly breed is also known to be a communicative cat and will hold conversations with its owners. It is sometimes described as being doglike because it is not only a loyal friend to its humans but may also be taught some of the same behaviors as dogs. Good with children, the Manx will usually get along with other cats and can form a close bond with family dogs.

cream manx
Image Credit: everydoghasastory, Shutterstock

Health & Care

The Manx is physically strong and a hardy cat that is not too prone to serious health afflictions. However, the same mutation that causes the lack of a tail can lead to spinal problems. Some Manx cats suffer from spina bifida, while the shortened spine may also lead to bowel problems and a lack of good bladder control. In rare cases, a deformed spine may lead to shortened or weak limbs especially at the rear.

The breed has a double coat and comes in both longhair and shorthair varieties. In both cases, owners do need to brush regularly, usually twice a week, to prevent matting and poor coat condition.

Training

The doglike Manx is intelligent and likes to please its owner. This means that it is possible to train a Manx. As well as making litter training and house training easy, the trainability of the Manx cat is such that it can be taught name recall and may even learn some basic tricks like fetch, although this does require patience and will benefit from the use of tasty reward treats.

Suitable for:

The Manx cat’s combination of physical and personality traits makes it a great choice as a family pet, including for families with children and other cats. It does require attention and needs regular grooming, however, so owners must be prepared to spend time with their new Manx cat to get the most from this ancient breed.

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American Bobtail Overview

red american bobtail cats
Image Credit: Ievgeniia Miroshnichenko, Shutterstock

While the Manx is considered an ancient breed, and one that developed naturally over time, the American Bobtail is a relative newcomer to the feline world. Although the Bobtail did develop naturally at first, intentional breeding led us to the breed that we have today. This intentional breeding likely started in the 1960s, in the USA, with the aim of developing a breed that looked like a wild bobtail but with a more amiable and affectionate nature.

Appearance

Although bobtails can have tails of somewhat different lengths, they will not usually be longer than 4 inches, or roughly one third of the length of a standard cat tail. The tail can be smooth or ridged, thin or thick, but it will be short.

The bobtail has an athletic and tough build. The breed retains a lot of its wild appearance. It, too, comes in shorthaired and longhaired variants, and the breed is a heavy shedder.

Personality

The bobtail may be wild in origin, but intentional breeding programs have given rise to a domesticated cat that is docile as well as sweet, loving, and family orientated. They make ideal family companions and are a good choice for families with children, and the bobtail’s use as a therapy cat is testament to their accepting nature.

Health & Care

The docile breed does not require a lot of exercise but will benefit from having some daily playtime with its family, which will also help keep the cat in good physical condition. However, they do require and demand a lot of attention and affection from their family. They enjoy spending time on your lap, and just generally in your company.

As a heavy shedder, the bobtail requires regular grooming and is not considered a suitable breed for allergy sufferers.

The bobtail has similar health considerations to the Manx. It may have a shortened spine which can lead to some skeletal and bone issues, and it can endure spinal problems that mean they are unable to properly control their bladder or bowel.

american bobtail cat
Image Credit: Mary McDonald, Shutterstock

Training

Like the Manx, the bobtail is a loving cat that likes to please its owners, and it is a cat breed that can be trained. Not only does this make litter training and scratching post training easy, but it means that your car can be taught to play simple games like fetch and may be taught to do some basic tricks.

Suitable for:

The Bobtail also makes a good family pet. It not only tolerates human attention but craves affection. It gets along with children and will usually integrate well with other cats and even dogs. Although grooming is relatively easy, the Bobtail does need brushing once or twice a week and does shed heavily, so is not considered suitable for those with cat allergies, however.

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Ideal Family Cats

Both the Manx and the Bobtail are considered excellent family cats. They are loving and readily accept affection. This does mean that both breeds need attention and companionship, however, so they may not be suitable for families that are out all day and evening.

Their relatively minimal care requirements and loving nature means that either breed should be suitable for first-time cat owners that want an easy and enjoyable introduction to feline ownership.

Health Problems

The tailless and stumped tail of the breeds is caused by a malformity of the spine. In some cats, this may not pose any further health problems, but spine deformities can lead to spina bifida. Your cat may experience uncontrollable bowel and bladder emptying, too, and rear limbs may be shortened if the spine is especially malformed. The tails do not require any special attention or healthcare, however.

Other than that, these are two breeds that originate from wild cats, which means that they tend to be hardy and have resolute health. They live roughly the same length, about 12 to 14 years, which means that new owners can expect a lifetime of affection and love.

Trainability

These are two breeds that are both described as being doglike. They are affectionate and can shadow their owners around the house. They are also two of the breeds that are considered highly trainable, although this is compared to other cats. Training cats requires patience and there has to be something in it for the cat, whether it’s affection and admiration or, more likely, tasty treats. At the very least, this trainability should make litter and scratching post training relatively trouble free, but it is also possible to teach some basic tricks and games.

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Which Breed Is Right For You?

The Bobtail and the Manx share a lot of characteristics and traits, other than the obvious short-tailed physical characteristic. They make good family pets that are loving and devoted; they can both be trained at least basic commands; and they both require some grooming to maintain their coats, whether you have a shorthaired or longhaired variation. Unfortunately, they are also susceptible to some spinal problems caused by the same genetic malformation that caused their short tails, although these problems do not present in all cats of these breeds.

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Featured Image Credit: (L) Pixel Cat Photo, Shutterstock | (R) larecottonstudio, Shutterstock

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