Choosing a Cymric
J. Anne Helgren
Also known as the longhaired Manx, the Cymric is a plush, huggable breed with the unique qualities of the Manx plus a dense, semi-long coat. Like the Manx, the Cymric is one tail short - the defining characteristic of the breed. While some unenlightened souls think that a cat is ill-dressed indeed without an elegant tail, Cymric fanciers believe a cat should not be defined by its tail any more than humans should be defined by the style of their clothes or the color of their skin. And Cymrics get their feelings across just fine without a tail to lash. Rumpy Cymric are highly prized since this tail type is favored in the show ring. Rumpies are completely tailless and often have a dimple at the base of the spine where the tail would ordinarily begin.
History and Origin
The ultimate survivor, the Cymric developed on the Isle of Man, a small island located in the middle of the Irish Sea midway between Liverpool, England, and Belfast, Ireland. The Isle's records indicate that the breed first began as a mutation among the island's domestic cat population, although some believe that the mutation may have occurred elsewhere and was transported onto the island by trading ships. However, since this happened hundreds of years ago, we'll never know for sure.
Since both long and shorthaired cats were present on the island, both longhaired and shorthaired varieties developed on the Isle. Presumably, the gene for long hair passed around the island's closed environment, just as did the dominant gene for taillessness. Unlike the Manx gene, however, long hair is a recessive trait, and the gene can be carried without manifesting for generations.
While the Cymric was shown in America as early as 1963, the breed didn't really begin to become popular until the mid 1970s. The breed's name was derived from the word "Cymru," the Welsh word for Wales. Pioneer Cymric breeder Blair Wright had heard her grandmother tell tales of the longhaired tailless cats she'd seen in that area during her childhood, so the name seemed appropriate. Today, most cat associations accept the Cymric as a breed in its own right.
Short on tail, the Cymric is long on fur. It's the luxurious coat that sets the Cymric apart from the Manx. The heavy, glossy coat is medium long, dense and full. A thick undercoat gives the coat density and a well-padded appearance and adds to the Cymric's illusion of size and heft. The breeches, abdomen and neck-ruff are usually longer than the fur on the main body. Tufts decorate the ears and toes, and the cheeks sport full, thick sprouts of hair, giving the face a broad appearance. Like the Manx, the Cymric comes in all colors and patterns except those that suggest hybridization, such as the Siamese pointed pattern.
The body and head style is the same as the Manx's. The overall impression is that of roundness: round head, firm, round muzzle, prominent cheeks, broad chest, and a rump as round as a grapefruit. The legs are short and substantial and the hind legs are strong and longer than the front, giving the cat spring power.
The "Manx gene" produces a variety of tail lengths, and any given litter can have all four types. Predicting how many pet-quality and show-quality Cymrics one is likely to get in a single litter is difficult indeed. Tail types are separated into four varieties:
Rumpy-risers have a short knob of tail which consists of one to three vertebrae connected to the last bone of the spine. Risers can be shown if the vertical rise of the tail doesn't stop the judge's hand when the cat is stroked.
Stumpies have a short tail stump that is often curved or kinked and cats with this tail type are usually pet quality.
Longies have tails that are almost as long as an average cat's. Many breeders dock the tails of these pet-quality kittens to make them easier to place and to avoid a manifestation of the Manx gene, which causes the tail vertebrae to ossify in later years, causing great pain.
The Cymric shares the Manx's pleasant personality. Cymrics are even-tempered, calm, intelligent and adaptable, and generally form strong bonds with their human companions. While they ordinarily bond with one special person, they enjoy the company of all family members. Cymrics generally make good family pets, and get along with other companion animals, even dogs. Cymrics are playful, and if given the opportunity become talented mousers. Like the Manx, Cymrics are fascinated by water. Cymrics are remarkable jumpers because of their powerful back legs and can usually be found perched on the highest shelf.
Because of the semi-long fur and thick undercoat, some grooming is required. However, the fur reportedly resists matting and therefore doesn't require as much grooming as other longhaired breeds. Still, the Cymric's dense coat needs combing with a good quality steel comb two or three times a week to remove loose fur and prevent matting.
Pet quality Cymrics range from around $400 to $700, depending upon the breeder, location, gender, coat pattern and color and, of course, the type of tail. The rare, prized rumpy Cymric runs $1,000 and up, particularly if its body type meets the show standard and its coat is of good quality and texture.
American Association of Cat Enthusiasts (AACE)
American Cat Association (ACA)
American Cat Fancier's Association (ACFA)
Canadian Cat Association (CCA)
Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) under the name "Manx Longhair"
The International Cat Association (TICA)
United Feline Organization (UFO)
In 1994, the CFA accepted the Cymric as a division of the Manx breed, renaming the breed "Manx Longhair." This was a boon to breeders since longhaired kittens born to Manx parents (possible when both parents carry the longhair gene) could be registered and shown in the longhair division. The other associations consider the Manx and the Cymric separate breeds, but most allow longhaired Manx offspring to be registered as Cymrics. This eliminates status problems with "split litters," in which both hair lengths are present. TICA considers the Manx and the Cymric members of the Manx/Cymric breed group.
Cymric kittens that inherit two copies of the Manx gene, one from each parent, die before birth and are reabsorbed in the womb. Since these kittens make up about 25 percent of all kittens conceived from Cymric to Cymric matings (and Manx to Manx matings) litters are usually small, usually averaging two, three or four. The Manx gene can also cause severe defects of the spine such as spina bifida, gaps in the vertebrae, fused vertebrae and defects of the colon. These problems usually occur within the first month, but since they can occur within the first four months of age, most breeders keep their kittens for at least 16 weeks. Buy from a breeder who is willing to guarantee the health of his or her kittens, and avoid Cymrics that show any signs of weakness in the hindquarters or that walk stiffly, hop or have trouble moving.