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Manx are prized as skilled hunters, and thus have often been sought by farmers with rodent problems, and been a preferred ship's cat breed. An old local term for the cats on their home island is stubbin.

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The name of the promontory Spanish Head on the coast of the island is often thought to have arisen from the local tale of a ship of the Spanish Armada foundering in the area, though there is no evidence to suggest this actually occurred.

However, tailless cats are not commonly known in Spain, even if such a shipwreck were proven.

The Manx gene may be related to the similarly dominant tail suppression gene of the recent American Bobtail breed, but Manx, Japanese Bobtails and other short-tailed cats are not used in its breeding program, and the mutation seems to have appeared in the breed spontaneously.

Possible relation to the Pixie-bob breed, which also ranges from rumpy to fully tailed, is unknown.

Over the years a number of cartoons have appeared on postcards from the Isle of Man showing scenes in which a cat's tail is being run over and severed by a variety of means including a motorcycle, a reference to motorcycle racing being popular on the island, and an update of the Noah story.

Because the gene is so dominant and "invades" other breeds when crossed (often without owner knowledge) with the Manx, there was a folk belief that simply being in the proximity of a Manx cat could cause other breeds to somehow produce tailless kittens.

The Pixie-bob breed also has a short tail which may or may not be genetically related or identical to that of the Manx.

More will be clear about tail genetics as more genetic studies are done on cat populations and as DNA testing improves; most domestic animal genetic work has been done with dogs and livestock breeds.

Whether the shorter tailed kittens of these varieties are labeled Manx is up to the breed standard consulted.

Manx cats' tails are classified according to proportional tail length as kittens (the proportion does not change after birth): Kittens with complete tails may be born in a purebred Manx litter, having not inherited the taillessness appearance at all.

Since Manx kittens are naturally born with any tail length, from none to long, it was formerly common to surgically dock the longer tails a few days after birth.

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