Readers’ cats: Hob

November 20, 2013 • 12:51 pm

Readers Sue and Lee sent me this photo in response to my “make yourself into Batman with your cat” contest. Due to Clawing Danger, Sue said she couldn’t put her black moggie Hob on her head, but sent the picture below because he resembled a bat, along with the note: “…just lying around.  This is Hob, Manx cat, cooling off on the kitchen floor this summer.”


I wrote for more information about Hob, and got this from Sue and Lee:

Hob is a black “stumpie,” a Manx cat with a 1” tail. He’s big, for a Manx, and has the breed’s massive (and limber) hindquarters and long rear legs, resulting in a pronounced California rake to his posture . His coat is very thick, furry even between his toes, giving him the plushness of a teddy bear. This is misleading, however, as he is not cuddly. He likes to share a room with people, but until he turned five, laps weren’t his thing. Age is mellowing him; now he condescends to curl up on a lap, but sets clear boundaries — too much petting elicits first a nibble; then claws and teeth. While other cats rub up against your legs in greeting, Hob head-butts. At night, he likes to be under the covers; this is tricky because he can’t resist attacking bare feet. Painfully. A skillful hunter, he brings down half-grown rabbits as well as mice – a skill that makes his breed popular on farms and ships both. He’s a fearless beastie; last spring, a strange Labrador retriever saw him sitting outside on the grass and charged, barking. Hob stayed put, laid his ears back, and clearly transmitted “Go ahead, make my day.” The Lab (smart for a d*g) stopped short. We’ve had a good many cats, but never one that has “stood on his dignity” — with humans and animals both — as convincingly as Hob.

She also gave some interesting information about Manx cats, whose condition is due to a single dominant gene (the homozygote is lethal as a fetus):

There are five categories of Manx cats, the names based on tail length: Rumpie, rumpie riser (a bump), stumpie (about 1”), stubbie (from 1” to about 5”); and tailie (half- to normal- length tail). On Manx, the island off the west coast of Britain where the breed first appeared, they’re collectively called “Stubbins.”

Here are some bats (banded) that I photographed hanging on the field station in La Selva, Costa Rica. Their posture resembles Hob’s:


h/t: Sue and Lee

14 thoughts on “Readers’ cats: Hob

  1. I’ve got a chubby 22 pound ginger Manx tabby. Walks like a big bear with his truncated hindquarters. A really important thing to consider with Manx kitties is that not only is the homozygote lethal, the Manx kitties that are born can have health problems and shortened life spans.

    I love my big Manx lovable and narcissistic stubborn rescue kitteh, but, IMO, it is irresponsible to actively breed for this genetic defect and to recognize it as a breed for cat shows.

    1. In addition to tailless cats that are incontinent but otherwise normal, I’ve met Manx syndrome cats that are “thumpers” (hop like rabbits, bouncing on both hind legs at once) and “draggers” (hind legs are completely useless, but forelegs become muscular to compensate). Either type may or may not be incontinent and/or need its bladder expressed daily, though they can still be quite athletic and live a normal lifespan if cared for properly.

      On the other hand, I’ve met a couple of tailless or “stumpy” cats that are unusually big, strong, and healthy.

      Anyone know if the Japanese Bobtail (another short-tailed breed) has the same mutation or a different one, and if it’s prone to the same deformities? They are uncommon in the U.S., and shelters usually label tailless or stumpy cats as Manx or “Manx mix”.

  2. Personally, I am against perpetuating the Manx cat breed because so many kittens die and so many others have severe and extremely painful spinal deformities.

    “The Manx is one of the most challenging cats to breed because of the Manx gene. Homozygous Manx kittens (kittens that inherit the Manx gene from both parents) die in vivo early in their development. Since homozygous kittens comprise roughly one quarter of kittens conceived from Manx to Manx matings, Manx litters are generally small, averaging two, three, or four kittens. Even the heterozygous kittens (kittens that inherit the Manx gene from one parent) have a higher than average mortality rate, because the Manx gene can cause deformities such as spina bifida, fusions of the spine, and defects of the colon.”

    On the island of Koh Lanta in Thailand, I noticed that a great many cats had short or twisted (or both) tails, some being akin to the tails of Manx cats. I reckon that comes from decades and possibly centuries of inbreeding due to being isolated on an island.

    1. It’s not very common, but when it happens it’s tragic. They rapidly out breed their available food supply. Kinder to let the kitties get them than let them starve to death.

    2. It’s stems from the time when the Polynesians voyaged over vast expanses of the Pacific ocean ~ expanding their range & influence. This was only possible through excellent navigational skills & the use of rabbits for island hopping…

      1. Silly me, I’d forgotten the Polynesian connection. It’s culturally important too. Rabbit eggs mutated in the odd soils of some of those Pacific islands, and gave birth to all those enigmatic statues. This is, of course, why we use eggs to celebrate Easter.

  3. Curious about the bat vestibular system that stops them from getting dizzy hanging upside down… have to look that up!

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