These Special Kitties Easily Rival Some of the Smartest Dogs

cymric cat

Story at-a-glance -

  • Like the shorthaired Manx, the longhaired Cymric also has no tail, but they’re the only ones specifically bred to have that distinguishing trait
  • Cymric tails aren’t always nonexistent, but when they are, the term for both the Cymric and Manx is “rumpy;” those with three vertebrae or less at the end of their spines are “rumpy risers,” and the ones with longer stumps are “longies”
  • The Cymric has a silky, double coat that gets gradually longer from their shoulders down to their rear, with a wide ruff around the neck and tufts of hair between their toes and extending from their ears
  • One amusing explanation about how the Cymric’s tail-less state occurred is that the door of Noah’s ark slammed shut on it, but a more likely scenario was that it was the result of a genetic mutation

By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

If you've ever seen the cat intriguingly known as a Cymric, you may have thought at first glance that they were much like any other domestic longhaired variety. Upon closer inspection, however, there's something missing that identifies the breed fairly quickly: Like the shorthaired Manx, the Cymric also has no tail. Both cat varieties are domestic and hail from the Isle of Man, a large island situated between Ireland and England.

In fact, Cymric, pronounced "kim'-rick," is also the term for the Welsh language or characteristic to the Celts of Britain, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.1 Other than their hair length, the tale of the two tail-less kitties is identical. However, the tail isn't always completely missing, although if it is, the endearing term in both varieties is "rumpy." Others, Vetstreet explains, can have as many as three vertebrae fused at the end of their spines, making them "rumpy risers."

Still others have a stump of up to five vertebrae they can whip around (as cats do as part of their own mysterious sign language). Then there are "longies," having a tail longer than a stump but shorter than the tail of a typical cat. You'll also find that some Cymrics and other cats with no tail instead have a dimple at the base of their spine where the tail would normally be. (Ironically, a Maine coon named Cygnus Regulus Powers made a name for himself as having the longest tail on record at over 44 inches.)2

One amusing explanation about how the Cymric's tailless state occurred is that the door of Noah's ark slammed shut on it, but a more likely scenario was that it was the result of a genetic mutation. However, CatTime observes that while there are several cats with no tails, the Manx and Cymric are the only ones specifically bred to have that distinguishing trait.

While some pinpoint the date to 1750 or later, there's probably no way of knowing whether this breed was born on the Isle of Man or arrived by ship from someplace else and then spread its genes throughout the island. 

Cymric: Physical Characteristics

Even without much of a tail to speak of, which other cats use for balance, the Cymric is nimble, quick and has excellent jumping skills. These interesting felines weigh between 7 and 13 pounds and have silky, double coats that get gradually longer from their shoulders down to their rear. You may detect a wide ruff around the neck, and the tufts of hair between their toes and extending from their ears are desirable qualities.

If you study the profile of the Cymric, you may note their rounded contours. You wouldn't refer to them as sleek or streamlined; they're more fluffy, even making their legs appear abnormally short because their fur is so long. They have large, round eyes, wide faces and rather small, wide-set ears.

Altogether, these are beautiful cats with winsome faces, coming in several colors — black and white, charcoal gray, orange and silver, as well as patterns, including tortoiseshell, tabby and calico — but seldom in shades of lavender or brown or having points or ticking, unless, of course, they're a serendipitous result of breeding with other kitties.

After more than five decades of successfully breeding them, The Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) hasn't recognized the Cymric as a unique breed, but instead views it as simply a longhaired version of the Manx. According to The Happy Cat Site, a Cymric might mate with another type of cat and still produce kittens with no tails, but strictly speaking, they wouldn't be recognized as Cymric cats anymore.

Calm and Gentle; Playful and Smart

While personality characteristics like gentleness and friskiness are basics for these adorable kitties, just like people, many traits occur due to specific circumstances they experience while they're "growing up." They enjoy being petted and played with, and many simply want to be near the humans they love the best, so they can also be described as affectionate. CatTime notes:

"This is a smart cat who can learn tricks, including fetch and come, and is willing to walk on leash if taught early. He often likes to ride in the car, making him a great companion on long-distance trips. He is also good at learning how to open doors, so be sure anything you don't want him to have is under lock and key.

Unlike most cats, the Cymric is willing to accept boundaries and will usually respect your wishes if you tell him no when he jumps on the counter or scratches on your sofa. Just be sure you give him an acceptable alternative as thanks for his nice behavior."3

Along the line of how adept Cymrics are with their paws is their ability to "handle" toys and other objects, and to learn quickly how to get to places they're not supposed to be, such as over fences and gates, up blinds and drapes and onto even the highest kitchen cupboards. It's their intelligence that makes them rival some of the smartest dogs, as they make eager pupils when teaching them tricks and offering them puzzle toys to keep their minds busy. Healthy treats are always a good motivator.

Another way the Cymric reveals their temperament is through the noises they make, which anecdotes and cat breeding sites alike describe as a sweet and unique trilling sound. They're rumored to be good mousers, and some people have said that when their Cymric cats are in stealth mode, growling noises can be heard.

But even without a tail as long as some cats possess, Cymrics can be quite athletic and are terrific jumpers. Being a domestic cat with wild cat tendencies, this is one breed that enjoys the distraction a feather teaser, ball and even a milk jug ring can offer.

Health and Grooming Your Cymric Cat

Conditions you may find in the Cymric may be related to their most noticeable physical trait of having no tail or a very small one. One difficulty that may occur in this as well as any cat with only a partial tail is arthritis of the tailbone. Something that may affect a Cymric's eyesight is corneal dystrophy, which may become noticeable with a cloudy appearance on the surface when a kitten is around 4 months old.

In addition, something called Manx syndrome refers to a collection of birth defects affecting this breed, including a spine that's too short, and bowel, urinary tract and digestion problems. The condition affects as many as 20 percent of these cats, and oddly, rumpies most often. Because the disorder usually appears also by the age of 4 months, some experts advise individuals looking to adopt to wait until after that age has come and gone.

Grooming is easy for the Cymric, probably due to the silky texture of their coats. Brushing is usually only needed two or three times a week, and perhaps more during spring and fall seasons when their fur begins shedding. Pet Care Rx4 says the Cymric has a life span of 8 to 14 years, but like all pets, loving care, integration into your family and plenty of attention to engage their time and physical activity will greatly contribute to the length of any pet's life. As Vetstreet notes:

"The Cymric is well suited to any home with people who will love him, play with him and care for him. Keep him indoors to protect him from cars, diseases spread by other cats and attacks from other animals."5