Ginger manx cat with no tail

Cats with no tail is partly due to a genetic mutation

© Shutterstock

Cats with no tails

By G. John Cole Content Writer

Updated on the

When you think of a cat, what comes straight in mind is: two ears, whiskers, purrs, and a long tail. So, you might get a little confused if you come across a cat without a tail. Let's find out why some cats don't have a tail or a very short one.

While some cats can be without a tail because of an injury and had to be amputated, for others it is part of their unusual physique. Cats use their tails to communicate with other cats or humans and also to balance themselves. So, how does a cat live without a tail? 

There are 5 cat breeds famous for their very short tail or nonexistent. The Manx is the only breed which is born without a tail, this is due to a genetic mutation. The American Bobtail, the Cymric, the Highlander and the Japanese Bobtail are born with a very small tail, which is due to a dominant gene from one of their parents.

What cat breed has no tail?

Tailless cats also called bobtailed cats, are most of the time, the result of a natural genetic mutation that caused their tails to be short or sometimes extremely short that they aren't visible. This genetic mutation has appeared in a few places over the centuries, from Japan to the Isle of Man.

The American Bobtail

Cat without a tail: The American Bobtail ©Shutterstock

The American Bobtail is not completely without a tail: the length of its tails varies from cat to cat. This cat breed origins is very interesting. The American Bobtail descends from a short-tailed kitten who belonged to John and Brenda Sanders. They names him Yodi. He met Sander's female cat, Mishi, and from that day forward, became the father of the American Bobtail breed in the 60s. Yodi and Mishi's kittens had short tails. This genetic mutation shows that when a cat is born with a small tail or none at all, it is a dominant gene one of the parent carries.

The American bobtail is a loving and intelligent cat. This wild looking cat bonds with their human family and will love to play a game of fetch or hide seek for hours. American bobtails love to hunt and you might catch them hunting insects in your home. This feline gets along with dogs and any other animals or humans.

The Cymric

Cat without a tail: The Cymric ©Shutterstock

The Cymric has a unique physique. Cymrics are also called long-haired Manx. There are fantastic legends about the origin of this breed. One very interesting one is the following: The Manx was taking a nap when Noah called all the animals to join his ark. The cat woke up just as Noah was closing the door of its ark and accidentally closed it on the cat's tail, cutting it off entirely. The very first Cymric was reported in Canada in the 1960s. Some still call them long-haired Manx and others have given them a separate name: Cymric (taken from the Celtic word for Welsh).

The Cymric is a loving breed and loves being around people. This sweet cat will love to play with its owner or whoever is willing to play with him. This breed is very intelligent and will love a challenge, why not teach him a trick or two?

The Highlander Cat

Cat without a tail: The Highlander ©Shutterstock

The Highlander has a physique similar to wildcats, curled ears and a very small tail. This is what makes them so unique. This cat breed was created in 2004, by crossing two hybrid breeds: the Desert Lynx and the Jungle Curl. Originally named the Highland Lynx, this feline is docile and playful and doesn't actually have any wildcat genes because it was produced from two hybrids. Concerning its tail, it is very short. Kittens are born with a bobbed tail which can range between 2 to 6 inches.

The Highlander is an amazing breed: it is playful, confident and loving. They have a lot of energy and will need activities to be kept entertain, therefore make sure you play with them a lot. Give them toys and interact with them every day. This feline is very smart and loves to be the center of attention.

The Japanese Bobtail

Cat without a tail: The Japanese Bobtail ©Shutterstock

The Japanese Bobtail is a rare breed with a long, rich history. Paintings and literature tell of its existence for over 1,000 years. Like its American cousin, the Japanese bob can be long haired or short. Concerning its tail, the Japanese bob tail is shorter than other breeds but you can still see it.

The Japanese bobtail is a clever, loving, and energetic feline. This cat breed loves to be with people and adores playing. Keep it amused with games and play, or it’ll end up climbing everywhere, leaping on your feet, and generally letting its presence be known. This highly intelligent breed can learn to respond to its name and also will play fetch or bring you their toys. The Japanese Bobtail gets along with dogs and other cats.

The Manx

Cat without a tail: The Manx ©Shutterstock

This iconic tailless cat origins can be traced back to the Isle of Man. Hundreds of years ago, there was a genetic mutation which caused one or a few kittens on the Isle of Man to be born without a tail. Because the population of felines in the Isle of Man is so small, generations of inbreeding caused this trait to become a new gene among local cats. Therefore the reason why today we can see Manx without a tail is because of a genetic mutation. Manx cats can therefore carry two different genes: one for a full tail and on without a tail.

Whether the Manx is born without a tail or not, this cat breed attracts not only for its unique physique but also for its dog-like personality. Indeed, these felines are playful, smart and devoted to their owners. Manx cats generally like to hang around with people, show characteristics such as loyalty and unconditional love, and even enjoy the company of dogs and kids.

Can cats live without a tail?

Cats can live without a tail. However, cats use their tail to communicate and to balance themselves. A cat with an intact tail is going to send and receive signals more clearly than a bobtail. But do not worry, a cat will soon learn how to compensate for the lack of a tail. Manx cats are born without a tail and this hasn't stopped them of being agile and friendly.

“The tail, in cats, is the principal organ of emotional expression" said Aldous Huxley.

Some cats, such as Manxes, are born with no tail due to a genetic anomaly. Those that survive don’t tend to have communication or balance problems. But sadly, the anomaly does affect other parts of their skeleton. The tailless gene is dominant and will need to meet a recessive tail gene. This is why when two Manx cats mate, usually, breeders will match make a Manx with a tailed cat. Still, the survivors often have spine or other medical issues as a result of their different genes.

A cat's tail helps for balance and communication, so you might be wondering how do cats manage to walk without falling down or communicating between themselves. Experts think they have an especially sensitive vestibular apparatus inside their ears to compensate.

Why does a cat have no tail?

The reason why cats are born with no tail is because of genetics. Indeed, it is a dominant gene which a cat can have, a mutation originated from inbreeding with a small population of Island of Man. A kitten can be born without a tail, the Manx for example, or with a short tail such as the American Bobtail, the Cymric, the Japanese Bobtail or the Highlander.

Why do some cats have short tails?

The tailless gene is dominant and when breeders breed two cats between them, they will have to make sure that to match a tailless gene with a recessive gene. When breeding two tailless genes the foetus is often spontaneously aborted. In fact, there are a lot of Manx cats who have a medical condition because of this, called "Manx Syndrome". Tailless cats who have a recessive gene don't have associated health problems. These bobtails, also called natural bobtail breeds, tend to be extremely healthy and hardy and have adapted to a natural environment by themselves despite their unusual physique.

The Manx is the only cat breed born without a tail. On the other hand, natural bobtail breeds can have short, corkscrew shaped or rabbit-like shaped tails, but their tails will always be shorter as they have fewer vertebrae than long-tail breeds.

So ends the tail

Cats use their tails to communicate and balance themselves. But a cat doesn’t need a tail to be complete and independent. Felines are intelligent creatures and will always adapt. The Manx is born without a tail, this is due to a genetic mutation originated from the Isle of Man. The American Bobtail, Cymric, Highlander and the Japanese Bobtail, all have a small tail due to a dominant gene one of their parents had.

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