Munchkin cats at a glance
- Origin: Louisiana, USA
- Scientific name: Felis catus
- Lifespan: 12-14 years
- Energy: Medium
- Temperament: Playful, outgoing, easily trainable
- Weight: Males 5-6 kg (11 – 13 lbs), females 4-5 kg (8.8 – 11 lbs)
- Eyes: Blue, green, gold, yellow
- Colours: All colours
- Grooming: Requires weekly grooming
- Also called: Weiner cat, American Munchkin, Sausage cat, Midget cat
- Cost: $1,800
The Munchkin is a short-legged breed of cat who arose from a spontaneous mutation in Louisiana in the early 1980s.
The Munchkin is a playful and outgoing cat who stays kitten-like well into adulthood.
The Munchkin cat is a relatively new breed of cat discovered in 1983 that is characterised by its short-legged appearance. The breed is the result of a spontaneous genetic mutation.
Originating in the state of Louisiana, a teacher by the name of Sandra Hochenedel rescued two cats who had been chased under a truck by a dog. Both cats had short legs. Sandra gave away a grey cat, called Blueberry and kept the black one, named Blackberry. Blackberry was pregnant at the time of her rescue and went on to give birth to four kittens, two of whom also had shortened legs. One of the short-legged kittens, Toulouse was given to Kay LeFrance. It is Blackberry and Toulouse who became founders of the Munchkin breed.
Munchkins have a genetic condition known as achondroplastic dwarfism. It was first observed in a population of cats in the 1930s but these cats disappeared during the war. The condition affects the long bones of the legs, with all other bones in the body unaffected. The gene responsible is dominant, it needs only one copy from a parent to be passed on. The gene is lethal in the homozygous form (ie; the offspring receive two of the gene, one from each parent) and affected kittens will be re-absorbed in-utero.
Introduction to the cat fancy
In 1991, the Munchkin was introduced to the general public via a live cat show held at Madison Square Garden. The breed achieved championship status with TICA in 2003
Munchkin cat health concerns
The breed is controversial in the cat world, due to concerns about the short legs and long spine will cause lordosis, a downward dip in the spine. This condition also affects short-legged breeds of dog such as the dachshunds. However, supporters claim that the spine of the cat is much different and no such problems occur in the Munchkin. The jury appears to still be out on that. Not every cat body recognises the Munchkin for the above reasons. Those include the CFA, GCCF and FiFE.
Did you know?
Image credit, Alcina Munchkins
Other short-legged cats have appeared in the past. Several generations occurred in England in the 1930s but died out during World War II. One also lived in Stalingrad (St Petersburg), Russia in 1953 but that too vanished.
Medium, with short legs. Front legs are 3-4 inches long and hind legs shorter. Everything else about the Munchkin is in proportion to the average cat.
It is still somewhat difficult to define a type due to out crossing with domestic cats, who come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Munchkin cats can have a long (Munchkin longhair) or short coat and all coat colours and patterns are accepted.
All eye colours which include blue, brown, copper, green and yellow.
Image credit, Curlicious Cats
Munchkins are playful, outgoing and maintain their kitten-like personality well into adulthood. It is easy to train Munchkins to play fetch or walk on a harness. They are social, loving and gets along well with people, including children and other animals, they make a fantastic family pet.
Munchkins can run and jump, however, due to their short legs, they are unable to jump as high as other cats, but that doesn’t slow them down.
Munchkin Cat Facts
The Munchkin cat is also known as the sausage cat or midget cat.
Munchkins have been crossed to create a number of new cat breeds which include:
The breed name came from the munchkins in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz.
The Munchkin leg length can come in three sizes; standard, super-short and rug-hugger (also called VW Microbus).
Munchkin love to sit on their hind legs.
A Munchkin by the name of Lilieput from Napa, California is the world’s shortest cat, measuring 13.34 centimetres.
Munchkin cats are known for their hoarding tendencies, in fact, they are affectionately known as magpie cats.
Munchkins require little in the way of care.
As with all cats, daily cleaning with a pet toothbrush and toothpaste and/or regularly feeding your Munchkin cat raw chicken necks or cubed beef.
Indoor only cats should have their claws trimmed as needed, usually every 4-6 weeks.