Cat Sanctuary

A Tale of Several Tails

The Sanctuary plays home to more than 400 cats of a variety of types – and has been home to probably a thousand more in the course of our 16 years in Richmond. They come in all sizes and shapes, purebreds and moggies – if you want to find a cat of any description, it’s probably passed through our gates at some time. The purebreds – cats like our Persians and Bengals – are usually here because of their bathroom habits, but those are habits that keep a number of cats from being adopted, unfortunately.

A variety of cats come with a variety of tails – everything from the long and elegant tail of Bengal Lucky, usually carried low, or the similarly slim tail of tabby Hannah, usually erect…

Lucky – MW

Hannah – PH

to the magnificent bushy fluff of Puffin or Owl

Puffin – MW

We have our share of tail-less felines, usually known as Manx cats. These vary from the totally tail-less cats like Sweet-Pea, Kilmer and Emery, (known as “rumpies”) to the cats who actually have a tail, but one which is shorter than normal, and has the last few vertebrae fused together. With the latter it’s not always possible to tell without an X-ray whether the tail deformity is genetic or the result of an accident.  Depending on the length of the tail, these are known as a “rumpy riser” (Huey), a “stumpy” (Blue, in pen 6) or a “stubby” (Abby)

Abby – MW

Sweet-Pea is at the end of the Manx spectrum, suffering as she does from what is known as extreme Manx syndrome, in which the shortness of the spine creates a form of spina bifida, making it impossible for the cat to control its bladder and bowels. Those of us who love our little trilling calico mop up after her, and cuddle her in a thick towel from time to time; she gets a daily bath, as does Kilmer, who has a similar problem – though not quite to her degree.

Sweet-Pea – PH

Sometimes we know that the shortness of the tail is not genetic. Little Marilee was one of a family of cats who were trapped, neutered and released back to the farm where they lived. Unfortunately, Marilee managed to get her tail trapped in a bit of farm machinery. The tail had to be amputated, and it was decided that the Sanctuary was the safest place for Marilee. The picture of a wary Marilee from her early days with us is in contrast to the relaxed girl she is starting to become.

Marilee – PH

Do you recognize any of these tails?

One thing you can usually be sure of – a raised tail signals a happy cat – and what can be happier than meal-time!

Dinner-time! – TS

Blog by Brigid Coult
Photos by Brigid Coult, Phaedra Hardman, Tim Stocker & Michele Wright