Munchkin cats have been stealing hearts for ages. This adorable breed of cat is not only super cute, but they are recognised by everyone as a breed with a short stature due to a mutant gene. Read on to find out more about this adorable breed!
As a cat breed, Munchkins are the result of a natural genetic mutation. The first known sighting of this short-legged feline was in Great Britain in the 1930s. They are believed to have almost been wiped out during World War II, as were many breeds of animals.
However, in 1983, a Louisiana music teacher named Sandra Hochenedel rescued a small short-legged black cat after they had been chased by a bulldog. She soon discovered that the cat she had named Blackberry was pregnant. After Blackberry gave birth to a litter of kittens, Hochenedel gifted one of them to Kay LaFrance, a good friend who owned a great number of cats, most of whom she let roam outdoors. It wasn’t long before the neighbourhood was full of these adorable short-legged felines.
They were given the name “Munchkins” from the beloved children’s novel (and film), ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ LaFrance was convinced that she and Horchendel had discovered a new breed of cats. She then got a hold of the chairwoman of TICA (The International Cat’s Association) genetics committee, Dr. Solveig Pflueger. After some research, Dr. Pflueger noted that this then rare breed of cat was a result of a dominant genetic mutation, which affected the legs.
As many other breeders became fascinated in Munchkins cats, they tried to have them recognised by the TICA. They were denied acceptance due to the fact that there was not enough information on the breed. It wasn’t until 2003 that TICA finally gave Munchkins full recognition. To this day however, they are not recognised as a breed by The Cat Fanciers Association.
Obviously, as they are named, Munchkin cats are a smaller breed of cat with short legs. They have a muscular build with firm hips and a well-rounded chest. They are usually no more than 20.3cm in height.
Their face has rounded edges with high, prominent cheekbones, a flat forehead and a firm chin. They have broad ears with slightly rounded tips.
Munchkin cats have very short legs that are evenly set apart. Their hind legs can often be a little longer than their front and all 4 feet point straight forward, not inward or outward, such as some other breeds. Their tail is typically the length of their body and tapers into a rounded tip.
Munchkin cats have angled, walnut shaped eyes that give them a warm and wide-alert facial expression.
Patterns and Colours
The pattern, colour, and even hair-length of this breed varies as Munchkins have been noted to have a wide variety in their appearance.
Both male and female Munchkin cats typically weigh between 2.7kg and 4kg.
Due to their small stature, Munchkins make great household pets for homes of any size ranging from flats to mansions. Despite their small size, they are extremely confident and outgoing. In fact, they seem to be totally unaware of their unique physique.
Munchkin cats are very playful and enjoy wrestling with kick toys or other cat friends. Also, they have a fascination with “stealing” small, shiny objects and hiding them.
Munchkins love to hunt, and therefore enjoy chasing mice and other such pets. However, their favourite thing to do is cuddle with their human. They are very people-oriented thus making them devoted companions who will be happy to follow you wherever you go or curl up with you on the couch. Munchkins tend to get along with other felines, most dogs and children as well.
Even with their tiny legs, Munchkin cats can run very fast and climb as do most cat breeds. However, their little legs limit them from jumping and often need assistance to get up on your couch, bed or chair. They prefer lower places such as cat beds than sitting on your desk or countertops.
As a breed, Munchkin cats are extremely intelligent. You can teach them tricks and provide them with interactive toys such as puzzle toys to keep them entertained. They can be vocal at times, but are not overly loud cats and are known for their curiosity. This breed will give you love and affection in return for pets, cuddles and occasional treats.
Health and Lifespan
Munchkin cats have an average lifespan of 10-15 years. However, like any other breed of cat, animal or human in general, Munchkins cats can suffer from or develop illnesses such as cancer or diabetes in their short lifetime. Medical conditions such as these cannot be predicted, but that is always the chance one takes when adopting a pet so keep this in mind when considering adoption.
Do note that it is advised not to breed a female Munchkin with a male Munchkin cat as this can lead to a “lethal” gene and the offspring will not survive and are most often miscarried.
Due to their short stature, it is best to keep your Munchkin cat at a healthy weight as obesity can lead to health issues such as heart disease and diabetes.
Some Munchkin cats may have a concave chest due to their short legs but this does not generally cause health issues. In some cases, they may develop a condition called lordosis which cases a slight swoop in their spine which thus puts pressure on their organs and can cause serious health issues. Otherwise, Munchkins are generally happy and healthy cats who are full of energy and affection.
Munchkin cats are easy to groom as they only need to be brushed and/or combed once a week to remove any knots or tangles and keep their coats soft and silky. Munchkins with longer hair should be groomed twice a week.
Trim their nails regularly and clean their ears with a gentle vet-recommended cleanser when they look dirty. Brush their teeth once a week to keep their teeth healthy and their breath fresh.
Care and Nutrition
Unless your Munchkin cat has specific dietary needs as determined by your vet, it is fine to feed the cats the same diet as any other domesticated feline. They are typically the same size as a medium cat and should be fed as such. Wet food is the best source of nutrition, but it is always wise to feed your cat some dry food as well for their teeth. Do not overfeed them or give them a large amount of treats to help prevent diabetes and obesity. Always make sure they have clean, fresh water and get plenty of exercise to keep them healthy and active.
Where to Find Munchkin Cats
Munchkin cats typically cost anywhere between $200 and $500. However, you can check your local animal shelter or look for an animal rescue that specialises in this rare breed.
Fun Facts About Munchkin Cats
- Munchkin cats were referred to as “Stalingrad kangaroo cats” in Russia due to the fact they often sit on their hunches, like a meerkat or perch their hind legs, like prairie dog.
- A tortoiseshell Munchkin from Napa, CA, named Lilieput, is the world’s shortest living cat according to the 2013 Guinness Books of Worlds Record as she is only 14.02cm in height.
- Munchkin cats are also known as “Midget Cats” or “Sausage Cats”.
- Their love of stealing shiny objects have led them to be referred as “Magpie cats”.
- As their short legs are a genetic mutation, Munchkin cats are not bred. *Remember breeding two Munchkin cats will result in premature death of the entire litter of kittens* A Munchkin cat is born in a “normal” litter of kittens.