Breed-related disease: Cymric cat

Is it really a cat if it doesn’t have a tail? It is if it’s a Cymric (pronounced kim-rick). There are lots of cats with short tails or no tails, but the Cymric (and his sister breed the shorthaired Manx) is the only one specifically bred to be tail-free. Sometimes jokingly said to be the offspring of a cat and a rabbit (however cute the idea, a “cabbit” is biologically impossible), these particular tailless cats are the result of a natural genetic mutation that was then intensified by their remote location on the Isle of Man, off the coast of Britain. The cats are thought to date to 1750 or later, but whether a tailless cat was born there or arrived on a ship and then spread its genes throughout the island cat population is unknown. The island became known for tailless cats, and that is how the breed got its name of Manx. The Manx has long been recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association, The International Cat Association, and other cat registries. A longhaired version was accepted by CFA as a division of the Manx in 1994. In some associations, the longhaired Manx is called a Cymric and is considered a separate breed.

The overall appearance should be that of a medium-sized, compact, muscular cat. The Cymric has a round head with a firm muzzle and prominent cheeks, short front legs, height of hindquarters, great depth of flank, and a short back, which forms a smooth continuous arch from the shoulders to the round rump. The Manx and Cymric are essentially the same in all respects, the Cymric having a longer coat. The Cymric has a medium/semi-long coat with a silky texture, which varies with coat color. Britches, tufts of hair between the toes and full furnishings in the ears distinguish the Cymric.

The personality of the Cymric has won a strong following. Cymrics are intelligent, fun-loving cats, and they get along well with other pets, including dogs. Cymrics are particularly noted for their loyalty to their humans and enjoy spending quality time with them. As cats go, they can be easily taught tricks. Despite their playful temperament, they are gentle and nonaggressive.

Here below, we listed some of the most common diseases to look for in your Cymric:

  1. Congenital Vertebral Malformations
    Sacrocaudal dysgenesis is a form of spinal deformity commonly seen in Cymric kittens. The sacrum is the part of the spine that passes through the pelvis, caudal means “towards the tail”, and dysgenesis means improper formation during fetal development. Sacrocaudal dysgenesis, then, means that the tail end of the spine forms improperly during fetal development—a common problem when a cat’s tail is genetically programmed to be missing. Affected kittens whose spine and spinal nerves aren’t functioning correctly may have fecal or urinary incontinence, or may walk with a hopping, abnormal gait. Constipation and megacolon are also more common in affected cats, and the effects of the condition typically worsen with age.
  2. Megacolon
    Megacolon is a serious and chronic form of constipation caused by a defect in the nerve supply to the intestines. Cats with megacolon have an insufficient number of nerves linked to the muscles of the colon and are unable to pass stool properly. As the cat gets older, the condition worsens, causing an increase in discomfort and blockage. Each time the cat is constipated, the intestines are stretched, bruised, and further damaged. This damage leads to larger and harder stools and, eventually, complete blockage. Megacolon is a life-threatening condition, but early and aggressive treatment can delay or prevent the necessity of major surgery to remove the colon.
  3. FLUTD
    When your cat urinates outside the litter box, you may be annoyed or furious, especially if your best pair of shoes was the location chosen for the act. But don’t get mad too quickly—in the majority of cases, cats who urinate around the house are sending signals for help. Although true urinary incontinence, the inability to control the bladder muscles, is rare in cats and is usually due to improper nerve function from a spinal defect, most of the time, a cat that is urinating in “naughty” locations is having a problem and is trying to get you to notice. What was once considered to be one urinary syndrome has turned out to be several over years of research, but current terminology gathers these different diseases together under the label of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseases, or FLUTD.


Photo credit: