The Manx Project

It all started with a Facebook plea from a friend of a friend looking for help because one of her farm cats had just given birth inside a dog crate. I answered the plea, went out to the farm in Harrisburg to pick up the feral mom and kittens because that’s my favorite foster experience. I soon learned that this farm needed a whole lot more help than with one mom and one litter. 

The person who contacted CRAN inherited a farm last summer that came with 3 cats. By the time she reached out, overwhelmed, it’s because there are now 17 adults cats and there have been at least 4 additional litters of kittens born since April. What made this project a priority? Manx Syndrome. 

Manx cats are born without tails; some have a portion of the tail (a stump) and some have no tail at all. They get lots of attention because they’re “cute” or “unique”, but this tailless appearance is actually a birth defect and often comes with serious consequences. Last summer, 3 feral Manx kittens were found deceased because they were constipated and didn’t receive any supportive care. 

Manx Syndrome is an array of problems involving the function of the hind legs, bladder and colon of a tailless cat. The genetic mutation that produces Manx cats adversely affects the development of the spine and spinal cord. Manx cats can develop spina bifida, a spinal cord abnormality that can cause a “hopping” gait (like a rabbit), incontinence, and lack of sensation in the skin around their anus and urethral openings. Some cats can be so severely affected that it’s fatal. 

And that is why we have worked so hard to eliminate future problems by making this TNR project a priority. As of July 1st CRAN has spayed and neutered 13 of the 17 adults. I have 2 Manx mamas left, who will have weaned their kittens this month so I can trap them. All other Manx adults have been TNR’d. Life is tough for feral cats, and feral cats with birth defects just don’t stand a chance. 

Most of the 17 adult cats on this farm are yearlings from last year’s litters. There are 3 Manx males and 3 Manx females. Of the 20 kittens we’ve pulled off the farm so far, 7 are Manx. One happened to have symptoms of the Syndrome, fecal and urine incontinence. The other 6, so far, have developed normally, walk normally, and will be up for adoption towards the end of summer.