Not many people are aware of the term Manx Syndrome or are entirely sure what it even means. While the term is typically associated with Manx cats, it can happen to any breed of cat, and almost any animal species. Tailless cats got coined the term as it’s believed to be part of improper breeding. So what exactly is Manx Syndrome?

What is Manx Syndrome?

Manx Syndrome is a genetic mutation that causes Manx cats to develop their spinal cord irregularly. The term is used to describe conditions found only in a Manx cat as part of a deformity. It’s believed that this is caused by bad breeding genes. Manx Syndrome is almost always Spina Bifida which can happen in any breed of cat. Complications include shortened or absent tail (missing vertebral), neurological diseases, nervous system diseases, incontinence, lack of feeling in hind legs, and severe sensitivity of the spinal cord.

The most common issues are trouble walking which you can see below in the video. The kitten’s name is Timmy and you can read more about him on his Facebook page.

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Manx Syndrome vs Spina Bifida

Manx Syndrome is still debated on. Some believe it is a type of Spina Bifida only found in the Manx cat breed while others consider it normal Spina Bifida which happens to any and all breeds. Breeding Manx cats with tails won’t prevent this disease from happening because the gene which causes the tail to be “bobbed” is not the same gene that causes Spina Bifida. Inexperienced breeders who breed with cats who have shorter vertebrae increase the likelihood of Spina Bifida, not the actual breed itself

Why Are Rates Higher for Manx Cats?

There are still studies that have to be done to determine why rates of Spina Bifida are higher in Manx cats but the term seems to be here to stay. If you love the Manx breed and are curious about the syndrome, you will have a hard time finding a lot of information online at this time because it is still not widely recognized by veterinarian medicine.

Sadly, when a vet does deem a kitten to have this disease, it is almost always fatal or they fail to find a family willing to care for so many special needs in one animal. The more that people are learning about the disease, the more people there are willing to care for them. It doesn’t have to be a death sentence but it certainly won’t be an easy life for the cat or the cat’s owner.

Manx syndrome
A Manx cat

Are you caring for a cat with Manx Syndrome? Share your experiences in the comments!

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Travis Holasek
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Travis Holasek

My girl Thumper was part of a feral colony set of kittens that I took in to foster. After a couple of weeks we bonded too much so I became her forever home. She is a stumpy riser, and has had no issues in almost 3 years. She is classic Manx even down to the hopping instead of running, hence why she got named Thumper.

Lorey Brown
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Lorey Brown

We had a Manx Cat with this syndrome… He was a kitten when we got him and they were going to put him down at the vets, he had a cold when we got him and he was so miserable, the vets knew he had spinal issues and thought he would not get adopted, when we seen him we had to have him…he grew up to be a big orange spotted Tabby Cat Manx looking kind of kitty…the vet said he had Spina Bifida and would have lots of health issues,. Well he was the best cat we ever had, and he did have a lot of issues…not just with his spine,. Poor Oppie he would sometimes loose small bits of stool from his bum, this would come and go, one time we had him to the vets and asked the Dr not to push to hard on his back… Read more »

Julia
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Julia

Thank you so much for sharing Opie’s story. I have adopted a little black and white Manx kitten who has the same issues with her bowels and spine. I have to make sure that she eats a special diet and has MiraLAX every day. She has bouts of severe constipation and then loose stools that just drops right out when she doesn’t even know what’s happening. She is so funny and sweet, a lovable little girl. I’m so glad I adopted her.
It’s nice to know that she will probably get a little bit better like Opie did. Did you feed Opie special food, if so what kind.
Thanks,
Julia