(The illustrated version had drawings by Louis Wain)


One day in purry Pussendom
Where cats are all alive -
And consequently rats and mice
Have no fair chance to thrive –
And tails are thought the proper thing
For each and every-one,
It so befel there landed up
A Feline that had none.

Pussdom was sat in Parliament
Reading the various Bills,
One against Winter Weather, one
For softer Window-sills,
Another to exterminate
By Sword, Gun, Trap and Chase,
By Drowning, Hanging, Worrying,
The Vulgar Canine Race.

They had just reached the Vermin Laws
And all with gusto purred
To classify beneath that head
The small melodious bird,
And fiats ‘gainst it forth had gone
Enough to turn it pale,
But at that very point walked in
The Cat Without a Tail.

The Country’s Representatives
Were silenced with surprise,
One of their kind in such a state
They scare could recognise,
This wagged his tail indignantly,
And that, his tongue, to say
“My friend, there’s something left behind!
You’re not all here today.”

And what a babblement bestirred
The Ladies’ Gallery!
“My Whiskers! What a wonderment
That I should live to see!”
“Oh! Birds and buttermilk! A guy!”
“Cream-cheese! Such a sight!”
“I never did in all my life!”
“Dear Sparrows! What a fright!”

The stranger stood perplexed, confused,
He could not tell the cause
Of such expostulating looks
And wildly waving paws;
With haughty wonderment he gazed
At the surrounding band,
“This topsy-turvy scene,” he cried
“I do not understand.”

“Not understand?” with one accord
The house began to rail,
“A little short of brain it seems
As well as short of tail!”
“The termination is abrupt!”
“Excuse the seeming scoff,
But have you left the end at home”
“So badly finished off!”

“Now see,” they all in chorus cried,
“The ornament you lack,
How we can trial it on the floor,
Or curve it o’er the back,
Or hold It perpendicular
Or wave it wild and free,
Or bristle it about to show
Decided enmity.”

He gazed, astounded at the sight,
Wide mouthed and open-eyed;
He watched them all pace to and fro
And then, ah! Then he sighed;
He turned and o’er his shoulder looked,
No tail the pavement swept,
He felt a sudden want of it
And then, ah! Then he wept.

“I cannot understand,” he sobbed,
“What may this want portend?
I never thought that other cats
Had such a lovely end.
It is enough to make me think
Thoughts that may well appal,
It is enough to make me doubt
If I’m a Cat at all?”

There was a pause of sympathy,
And then the Chancellor
With many hums and haws began
“I very much deplore,
Indeed ‘tis very hard to tell
Truths that receive no thanks,
But really now, I really do
Believe you are a Manx.”

“A Manx? Manx” they all exclaimed
And raised a shrill dispute.
What was it? Fish or flesh or fowl,
A feline or a brute?
The ladies shrieked and talked of faints,
“My salts! My fan! Oh thanks!”
They knew not what the meaning was,
And yet they called out “Manx!”

They looked towards the Chancellor
Thinking he would explain,
But with abstracted gaze he turned
Towards the window-pane.
“Pray tell us why you call him Manx,”
“Because he has no tail,”
“And how it is that he has none?”
The Chancellor turned pale.

“A Manx,” they questioned (solidly?)
But still he held aloof,
Moving his ardent gaze unto
The rafters of the roof.
“Now don’t display your ignorance,”
He said, “Such foolish pranks!
You all should know I call him Manx
Because he is a Manx.”

The stranger’s tears in torrents fell
To hear them each to each,
Discussing his deficiency
In such ungently speech,
He clasped his paws before his eyes,
He moaned beneath his breath,
And with unwearied vigour sobbed
Until he sobbed to death.

Straightway the Coroner was called
And others not a few
“We must all sit on him,” they said,
“That is the thing to do.”
They sat upon him cold and dead,
Yet ceased not then to rail,
“What lots more might get on they cried,
If only he’d a tail.”

With one accord the verdict was
Returned, “Felo de se”
“How true that is,” the felines cried,
“Whatever it may be;
It was a natural death no doubt
The right thing without fail,
But he’d have lived much longer if
He’d not been short of tail.”

They buried him within a grave,
A stone above his head,
And to his memory this was
Just what the gravestone said
“Here lies the Cat without a Tail
Dead early in the ranks.”
The Chancellor made haste to add
“P.S. He was a Manx!”