Monday, 28 January 2013

Pedigrees of the World - The Manx

The A-Z of Cats
Pedigrees of the World - The Manx


The Manx is distinguished by its lack of a tail.  Many romantic legends exist to explain the lack of a tail and some of these may be close to the truth.  This tailessness is due to a dominant gene.  Only one parent needs to possess the characteristic in order to pass it on to the kittens. Just one mutant could easily start a strain of Manx cats in a good environment.  This natural mutation is thought to have originated on the Isle of Man, which is located in the Irish Sea half way between Liverpool, England and Belfast, Ireland, hence the name Manx.  Because of the island's relative isolation, the breed thrived there. The first documented picture comes from an 1810 painting; while no one knows how long the tailless cats have been on the Isle of Man, linguistic evidence suggests they may have been introduced sometime after 1750.  In the late 1800’s Mr. Gambier Bolton, the first Secretary of the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy and a Manx specialist, wrote an account of Spanish ships that were wrecked on the Spanish Rock, close to the Isle of Man in 1558.  Supposedly, some tailess cats onboard the ship took refuge on the Rock, before making their way ashore at low tide.  These cats are purported to be the forebears of all tailess cats, known as Manx, which have now spread around the world.  King Edward VII, had Manx cats himself, which gave the breed a boost in popularity.  It has been proven that the Traditional Manx has no relationship to the Japanese Bobtail, who’s short tail is governed by a recessive rather than a dominant gene.  This rules out any connection between the two breeds.

Mythology and Folklore of the Manx Cat

There are many ideas as to how the Manx Cats might have come into being. Listed here are some tales:
 - When filling the ark and the rains came down, a cat was late to board.  While apologising for the delay, she promised to pay for her keep. "I will catch mice to pay my way," the Manx told Noah.  So Noah opened the hatch, and she came slowly as cats are wont to do, and the hatch came down and cut off her tail.
 - Another version of the same folktale is that the dog disliked the cat from the start and it was he who bit off her tail, for spite.
 - Cats from ships wrecked on the coasts around the Isle of Man came ashore and made the Island their home.
 - Mother cats bit off the tails of their kittens to keep them from being snatched by the invading Scandinavians, who cut off the tails and used them for decorating their helmets.
 - Another story suggests that Phoenician ships brought the cat from Japan.
 - Tales from the Isle of Man, where the Manx is thought to have originated, have a distinctly Celtic flavour. For instance, cats who are put out at night and find their way in again are thought to have been let in by “little people.”  The king of the Manx is a cat by day, and a little faery king by night - it is said that he travels the lanes in a fiery carriage.  Woe to the person who has treated the cat king poorly that day, for when night comes, so too, does the king's vengeance.

Manxes have have double coats; the outer coat is thick, while the undercoat is cottony and soft.  Some Manxes have long hair.  At one time, breeders either euthanized these kittens or sold them as pets. Thankfully, a breeding program was established in the 1970s. Today longhaired Manxes are called Cymrics, derived from Cymru, the Welsh or Celtic word for Wales.  It is correctly pronounced (KOOM-rick) but ordinarily pronounced (KIM-rick).   The "Manx gene" produces cats with tails of varying length, from the "longie" (normal tail) to the "stumpy" (short tail) to the "rumpy" (no tail).  Manx cats are very stocky and rounded in appearance, with short backs and long hind legs that make them appear rather rabbit-like.  A wide variety of colours and patterns are available; however, red or brown tabbies are the most common.  The Manx is a very friendly, even-tempered cat, which is great as a family pet.  Its origins as a "working" cat are still strongly seen in the breed, and any Manx who has free access to the outside is a fierce, dedicated hunter.  Many people call the Manx the "dog cat" because of its strong desire to be with its people.  Manx cats will follow you about the house, "helping" with whatever you happen to be doing at the time.  Manx do like to get on things, on tables, the backs of chairs and on bookcases; even the top of kitchen cupboards!!   Manx are a very sociable breed who get on well with most other pets, including dogs and rabbits.  They are no more or less susceptible to feline diseases than any other breed.

The Manx voice is usually quiet for its size. The Manx has a distinct "trill" which you most often hear from females talking to the kittens, but with which they will reply to their people's verbalizations as well.  Your Manx will most likely talk to you.  Manx make good pets for younger children if the kitten grows up with them, because of their even-temperedness. An older Manx may have some difficulty adjusting to the noise and quickness of children.  The Manx is a very playful cat as a rule.  It has been stated by one Manx owner that "Manx are the feline sport cars of the cat world, with their acceleration and quick turns".

If you decide on a show cat, you'll find that most Manx adjust well to the activity of the show hall, if you begin showing them at the kitten stage.  Some Manx actually love the attention they receive at a show, and enjoy meeting new people.  Manx, unlike many breeds, may be shown for years - as long as they are willing to go and enjoy it.  This is because the Manx matures slowly, and may take as long as five years to reach full growth and potential.  This means that you may get many years of showing enjoyment out of your Manx, and it is conceivable that your cat could win more than one title as it gets better and better with the passing of time. 

Friday, 25 January 2013

Visit to Kensington Palace

Have you ever been to Kensington Palace?  I have been there several times recently as I'm in a walking group that meets in Hyde Park.  Sometimes we finish off with a cream tea in the Orangery.

When Princess Diana died, I took my son to the gardens which were full of flowers.  I have photos in storage.  The scent of the flowers and candles was amazing.

Friday, 18 January 2013


 Lancashire beef stew - mum's recipe

It's snowing here in central London, so I made a simple stew passed down from nana to mum and then me.  It isn't a Lancashire hotpot with potatoes on top, more a one pot stew.

If you too fancy something warming on a freezing cold day, why not try this straightforward recipe:-

600g of stewing steak (braising or chuck steak is fine, but stewing is better)
2 onions, peeled and chopped into large chunks
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped into slices
6 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 beef stock cubes
A splash or two of Worcestshire sauce
A spash of HP brown sauce

Put the stewing steak into a pressure cooker with a good amount of water, for half an hour until tender.  When it cools down a little, cut the meat into bite sized pieces and put into a large saucepan with the water.
Add the onions, carrots and stock cubes.  Bring to a simmer and add the Worcestershire sauce, a splash of HP brown sauce, and add salt and pepper to taste.

When the carrots are cooked, add the potatoes and continue to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

Serve with crusty bread and extra brown sauce.

Monday, 14 January 2013

RESTAURANTS ON FERRIES - What a surprise "Le Flora" was

Eating on a ferry is not usually something to look forward to.  However, the highlight of our journey home from Santander, Spain to the UK was the ‘La Flora’ restaurant on the Pont Aven, a Brittany Ferry.

We were relieved to be on the way back to the UK and having parked our car on the car deck containing most of our worldly goods, we settled into our somewhat cramped cabin. 

We soon ventured out of the cabin and, having enjoyed a Spanish breakfast in Santander, decided to have lunch on the ferry, more to relieve the boredom that anything.  So we ate at the self-service restaurant - La Belle Angèle.  The portions were enormous and it was very good food.

To work off the lunch, we took a long walk around the ferry and decided to stay in the cinema and watch the latest James Bond movie.

Then we booked a table in Le Flora for the evening.  We were surprised when studying the menu to find such a gourmet style list.  We almost walked out as we felt a little intimidated, dressing down, rather than up.  However, the waiters were so experienced and soon put us at our ease.

For starter, I chose crab salad on a bed of mange tout.  Louie and Leo had king prawn, bigger than kings themselves, with a green bean and chorizo mash on the side, served with a delicious sauce.

For mains Louie and I had breast of chicken on a bed of coriander, and our son had Iberian pork with rosti served with a mini jar of chutney/sauce and small vase with watercress.

For desert I opted for the Grand Marnier souffle, while the boys had apple crumble with calvados cream on the side.  The service was very friendly, attentive but not obtrusive.

Almost worth another trip on the ferry!

Monday, 7 January 2013


Cats are creatures of habit and thrive in a consistent and familiar atmosphere. Moving house can be very stressful for cats once they are taken out of their comfort zone.  Prepare ahead of time to make moving house go as smoothly as possible.  The first thing to remember is that cats can be upset by anything that is out of place in their environment. Packing boxes & moving furniture can confuse and frighten the cat. When packing, leave one room until last, for the cat to feel at home in. Make sure that the removers are aware there is a cat locked in the room so they know not to open the door and accidentally let the cat out. To be extra sure, stick a note on the door.

As a safety measure, before you move make sure your cat has appropriate identification. This can be in the form of a permanent microchip or a collar with your home or mobile phone number on it. Obviously, notify the body in which the microchip data is stored of your new address and phone number. Then should the worst happen and your cat does manage to escape, it will be easier for you both to be reunited.

During transit, make sure your cat is safely locked in a cat carrier, and wrap a seat belt around the carrier. If your cat is an especially nervous traveller, it may be worth speaking to your vet prior to your move about the possibility of giving your cat a mild sedative. Make the carrier comfortable and include a favourite blanket or toy with a familiar smell.  If you are travelling a long distance to your new home pack a 'Cat Bag'. This should contain food, food dishes, water dishes, a litter tray and clean litter. You will also need plastic bags and a scoop for cat litter disposal. Don't forget a spoon or fork if you are taking canned food and some paper towels and wipes for any accidents. For nervous cats you might want to take a blanket or towel to cover the carrier.

When you arrive in the new home, the cat should be confined to one room until unpacking is completed. Make sure there is fresh food, water, a litter tray and your cat's favourite blanket or bed in the room, and ensure the windows are locked to prevent accidental escapes.  If you have more than one cat, they should be placed in a room together so they can comfort each other. You may want to leave a cupboard/wardrobe open, or the cat carrier in the room so they can have a place to hide. This will help your cat feel less threatened. Don't let your cat out of the room until the removers have finished and left.  Unless your cat is exceptionally mellow, it might take quite a while until it feels comfortable enough to venture out into other rooms of your new home. This may take several days in fact. Talk to your cat and fuss it often during this time of adjustment. Try to stick to as much of a routine as you possibly can. Leave food and water close by, although it may not want to eat or drink anything for the first day.  Some cats take to moving without much drama while others are very stressed and may hide under a bed for days. If your cat refuses to come out of a room or is hiding under a bed supply it with a litter tray and food and water in that room. Don't worry, your cat will eat when he/she is ready. Always have food and water available in familiar bowls. If your cat usually sleeps with you encourage it to do this in your new home. It will feel secure at night cuddled up with people he/she loves.  Reassure your cat frequently by giving plenty of attention. Lots of love and cuddles go a long way.  Eventually your cat will want to explore the new environment. Let the cat do this at his/her leisure. If your cat will be going outdoors at the new home, check first to make sure there are no dogs nearby. It is best to keep your cat indoors for the first few weeks. Let them really get to know the new home before exploring outside.  A little forethought and planning can make a big difference to how easily your cat adjusts to a new home.  If your cat is particularly anxious it may be advisable to place him in a cattery the day before the move and collect the day after you are established in your new home.
If you are moving overseas and flying, then you will need to check out airline regulations, Pet Passport requirements, costs etc. You will also need to check with your vet if any additional vaccinations are required.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

PLANET ZU TU - A book coming to a store near you shortly!!!!

I have listened to the advice given me by literary agents over the past year.  They didn't think it was a good idea to write two books at the same time.  I am writing two books.  One is a memoir about running a boarding cattery in Spain and the other is a fantasy called Planet Zu Tu.  Should you want to read a little bit, please go to

As I am quite a prolific writer, I have decided to go ahead with both could call it a New Year's Resolution for 2013 to see which interests an agent first.  That sounds a little immodest, but I have to keep trying.