Manx cats are so quaint and interesting that they certainly deserve an article all to themselves.
What is the origin of the Manx breed ? That is a question which, in all probability, will never be answered quite satisfactorily. There is a legend that these cats came from a cross between the cat and the rabbit, but, in any case, it seems too strange to be true.
It would appear more probable that Manx cats were originally imported from some foreign land, and the following remarks from Mr. Gambier Bolton are worthy of attention :
"In the Isle of Man to-day we find a rock named Spanish Rock, which stands close in to the shore, and tradition states that here one of the vessels of the Spanish Armada went down, and that amongst the rescued were some tailless cats which had been procured during one of the vessel's journeys to the Far East. The cats first swam to the rock, and then made their way to the shore at low tide. The tale seems a bit ' tall,' and yet the writer feels so satisfied of its truth that he would welcome any change in the name of this peculiar variety of the domestic cat to sweep away the idea that they sprang from the Isle of Man originally."
There is a quaint old versified explanation of the way in which pussy lost her tail :
Noah, sailing o'er the seas, Ran high and dry on Ararat,
His dog then made a spring, and took The tail from off a pussycat. Puss through the window quick did fly And bravely through the waters swam, Nor ever stopped, till, high and dry, She landed on the Isle of Man. Thus tailless puss earned Mona's thanks, And ever after was called Manx.
At one time, we may presume, the breed was kept pure in the Isle of Man ; but, alas ! the natives, with an eye to the main chance, have been led into manufacturing a spurious article, and many more tailless cats and kittens than ever were born have been sold to tourists eager to carry home some souvenir of the island.
On some of the out-of-the-way farms a breed of tailless cats has been kept for generations, and some genuine specimens can thus be picked up.
Points, Characteristics, etc.
And now for the characteristic points of these quaint cats. A true Manx should have absolutely no tail, only a slight, boneless tuft of hair.
The point next in importance is the short cobby body with the great length of hind leg. With this should be coupled a round guinea-pig like rump - round as an apple - which, of course, can only be seen in a specimen which has absolutely no tail.
The fur of a Manx cat should be exactly the opposite to that of the ordinary domesticated, short-haired cat. A long and open outer coat, like that of a rabbit, with a soft, close under-coat, is the correct thing.
Then come other less essential points, such as roundness of skull, small ears, shortness of face, and, last of all, colour. The most common variety would seem to be tabbies, either silver, brown, or orange, and often these in a mixture of white. Self-colours are rarer, and perhaps more taking, than the parti-coloured breeds. A good black with orange eyes, or a snow-white Manx with deep blue eyes, are much sought after by our principal breeders.
It is only in recent years that any English fanciers have tried to breed true Manx cats. In 1901 a club was formed to encourage this breed, and to assist fanciers by giving guarantees and prizes at the larger shows. The efforts of this rather small body of fanciers have been substantially rewarded by the great improvement in the quantity and quality of the exhibits.
Judges also have come to the help of the fancier, and now award prizes to the correct specimens, whereas formerly it was no uncommon thing for a most indifferent cat, without the slightest claim to pure Manx blood, to be given a prize merely because it either had been skilfully docked or possessed but the vestige of a tail. Such a cat would be no winner nowadays.
Manx cats may be considered shy breeders, and constantly the litter will consist of one kitten only. A Manx fancier remarks, " They only care to have one family a year; many queens won't breed at all."
This peculiarity, however, is one that should be an asset in their favour to those who would like to keep a cat either as a pet or for the more utilitarian purpose of keeping down vermin. To the tenderhearted owner, the yearly or even more frequent problem of disposing of kittens is a truly painful one. It is not always an easy task to find good homes for them unless of pedigree stock; they are useless from a pecuniary point of view, and the abhorrent task of drowning them is one from which she shrinks.
Manx cats are generally very fearless of dogs, and are excellent ratters.
They are hardy animals, and can be treated as other household cats in all respects. Like all of their race, they enjoy and are all the better for a daily grooming. The difference between a well-groomed cat and one which is left entirely to Nature is apparent to the veriest novice. The small amount of time and labour involved is insignificant compared with the results attained.
Clencairn Manxie, a beautiful Manx cat, owned by Miss Livingstone. A white specimen of this breed with deep blue eyes is much valued by fanciers
Photo, Charles Reid
In feeding these cats the owner should be careful to impart as much variety as possible into their menu. In the case of the ordinary domestic puss this is not difficult to arrange, but where a cattery is maintained the matter is one requiring much careful forethought and consideration. Still, if the animals are to thrive and win honours in the show pen, their diet must be one that suits them in every respect.
Breeders of Manx cats are not numerous. Sir Claud and Lady Alexander have always possessed some fine specimens ; and Miss Samuel, who was one of the first to take up this variety, is still faithful to the tailless cats. Of late years Miss Clifton has made a special hobby of Manx, and has quite a number in her cattery at Farnham. This enthusiastic breeder has been a great supporter of Manx at our shows of recent years.
The Popularity of Uncommon Pets - How to House a Civet Cat - The Care of a Civet - Its Diet Disposition and Characteristics
During the past few years a considerable amount of interest has been taken in pets of an uncommon nature, as, for example, the civet cat.
The cage for a civet must be fairly large, and. if possible, kept out of doors. It should not be less than five or six feet long, by three wide, and the same in height ; two large doors, one at each end, are required, so that the interior can be reached easily for cleansing purposes.
As civets do not readily make friends with strangers, and in order that they may be protected from outside interference, the would-be owner must take care that the front of the cage is closely wired. Galvanised wire netting can be used, if cheapness is desired, but it must be the best and the strongest that can be purchased and of half-inch mesh.
The floor of the cage can be covered with either sand or sawdust, with a layer of straw on top. Civets, and all other animals with malodorous secretions should be kept scrupulously clean, and it is necessary thoroughly to do out the cage every day, and not less frequently than once a week to scald it with boiling water and scrub it with some kind of strong disinfectant soap. If this be done regularly and systematically, there will be hardly any trace of an unpleasant smell.
Captive civets are very quiet and clean in their habits, and although principally nocturnal, soon get used to a semi-diurnal state of existence. They are very fond of small animals as food, and if there be no cats or dogs or other pets about, can be given the run of the house at night-time, when quite used to their owner, for the purpose of keeping down any rats or mice which may infest the premises. When this freedom is allowed, care should be taken not to hurry the creature back to its cage the next morning.
Civets are omnivorous feeders, although some individual animals seem to prefer a vegetable rather than an animal diet. Such examples may be fed on bread, biscuits, bananas, and other juicy fruits, yet at the same time ought to be encouraged as much as possible to live on animal food of some sort. They might be tempted with snails, frogs, or even eggs, if they do not take to beef.
The civet cat, one of the most interesting of uncommon pets. It is healthy, clean, and quiet, and does well in captivity Photo, W. Farmborough
A very good way of feeding civets is to make the morning meal of bananas, boiled rice (with or without a raw egg poured over it), and bread or biscuits ; the evening meal may be purely of animal food - say half a pound of beef, raw or cooked, according to the animal's preference. Fowl's heads, fresh fish, dead sparrows, or horse-flesh can be substituted at any time it may be necessary to vary the diet.
Regular feeding, constant change of food, perfect cleanliness, and kind treatment are the most important factors in keeping civets, and indeed all animals, in a healthy condition which is a credit to their owner.
Civets seldom ail anything, diarrhoea being about the only illness they suffer from, and a change of feeding usually puts this right. A piece of hard stone or wood should be put in the cage, so that they can have something on which to sharpen their claws. As a rule, civets are extremely clean animals, and keep their coats in spotless condition. They are not amiable in disposition, and two of a sex should never be put in one cage ; even those of opposite sexes require to get used to each other before they are allowed together, as a fight is sure to follow the sudden introduction of a strange animal into a cage where one civet has reigned alone for any length of time.
A good specimen will cost from £1 10s.
In conclusion, anyone who is fond of an uncommon pet cannot fail to be interested in one of these creatures, more especially if they have no dislike to the aroma of the civet scent, as this secretion can be made use of to perfume various possessions.