A Cat with Short Legs and the Agility of a Gazelle
Jon Crimes - Last Updated on January 27th, 2021
What you Need to Know about the Munchkin
The Munchkin cat is a racy, short in stature cat that is built for speed and agility.
They have short legs that are a result of a naturally occurring genetic mutation. Having short legs doesn't interfere with their zest for life, though. Their running and leaping abilities are quite astonishing for such a short cat.
They are known as 'sausage cats' by breeders and enthusiastic owners. They have also been compared to the genetic makeup of dogs with similar stature. Think Dachshunds, Welsh Corgis, and Basset Hounds!
Small to medium-sized, a Munchkin kitten grows fast. They get along with other cats, friendly dogs, and children that aren't too rough.
Appearance Matters. What does a Munchkin look like?
A full-grown Munchkin cat weighs between 6 and 9 pounds as a male. Females are smaller and weigh between 4 and 8 pounds.
They have separated into two groups by TICA for show purposes. These are the Munchkin and Munchkin Longhair. The Munchkin is a short-haired cat with a medium-length coat. The Munchkin Longhair has a semi-long coat.
Their short legs can be bowed, and the front legs can be shorter than the hind legs. If a Munchkin is destined for 'showing,' then make sure their legs aren't too bowed. This can disqualify them from competitions.
Depending on their autosomal dominant gene, they can come in three leg lengths.
These include normal leg length and Super Short Munchkins. The last one, with the shortest limbs, is also known as the 'Rug Hugger’.
The Munchkin has also been 'outcrossed' with other breeds. This has created some exotic looking cats, including the:
- Ragdoll Munchkin cat
- Persian Munchkin cat
- Scottish Fold Munchkin cat
- Munchkin Sphynx cat
- Hairless Munchkin cat
The outcrossing programs have been extensive with this cat. This has contributed to their being a wide range of colors and patterns with the breed.
It's all Personal. The Munchkin Personality
So what is the Munchkin cat personality? Sociable, playful, and great with the whole family. They have a personality that makes them a pleasure to be around. Children, friendly dogs, and most other pets should get on great with your Munchkin.
These personable cats are outgoing and never aggressive or destructive. Of interest, not all Munchkins are born with short legs. But leg length doesn't affect their personality and they're all charming.
Be warned, though. Most Munchkins don't walk. They zoom!
They're also curious as well. They'll behave like rabbits, sitting up on their hind legs to get a better view of what's going on.
Don't worry about your Munchkin having mobility problems with their short legs.
They might not jump to higher ground in a single leap but will generally get where they want to go in smaller steps.
They'll seek plenty of opportunities to show off their jumping prowess and intelligence.
Lost a small shiny object? Don't be too surprised to find that your Munchkin is living up to its 'magpie' reputation. They'll borrow whatever they can and hide it for playtime later. Defying their small stature, they are proficient hunters. They will fly through the house, playing with a catnip mouse or whatever toys you give them.
When playtime is over though, expect your Munchkin to revert back to the perfect 'lap cat'. Cuddles and strokes will be expected after all that exertion.
They make an ideal pet companion for any family who can give them the attention they need.
Caring for your Munchkin
Grooming your Munchkin is easy. For short-haired cats, you can prevent excess shedding by combing them once a week. Long-haired Munchkins will need a bit more grooming. Comb them twice a week, or as required, to stop mats and tangles from forming.
Are Munchkins hypoallergenic? These cats aren't considered to be hypoallergenic. They might not be the best option if you suffer from allergies. The short-haired Munchkin should generate less allergy-causing dander, though. This can help to reduce the allergic reaction you get from your cat.
Spending some time with the breed before taking a kitten home is a great way to see if they affect you.
Other grooming routines include checking your Munchkins nails and trimming if necessary. Use a vet-approved toothpaste to brush their teeth. And check their ears and eyes for dirt and discharge. Use separate soft, damp cloths to wipe these areas and keep them clean.
Starting these activities on a young kitten is a great way to get them used to the routine.
The Health and Happiness of your Munchkin
The Munchkin is still quite a young breed. So health concerns with this cat are still not understood. So far, though, they are generally thought of as a healthy breed with no genetic conditions.
Early concerns from breeders included the potential for spinal problems. This seems to have arisen from comparisons to short-legged dogs. There appears to be little evidence that Munchkins are affected, though.
A condition that is not breed-specific but can affect Munchkins is Lordosis.
This is a rare condition that affects spinal muscles. This can stop them from growing to the right length. Cats affected by this can have a 'collapsed' spine that curves into the body. Prognosis varies depending on the severity of the condition. Surgery is available in some cases.
What is the Munchkin cat lifespan?
Expect a healthy Munchkin cat to live between 12 and 16 years.
Feline History. Where does the Munchkin come from?
A cat called Blackberry was the foundation cat for the breed we now know of as the Munchkin. This short-legged pregnant feline was found in 1983 by Sandra Hockenedel from Lousiana.
In 1991, the breed was first introduced to the public. The cat was unveiled during the TICA Madison Square Garden televised cat show. The initial response to the breed was mixed. Critics predicted that the cat would develop health problems. These concerns included back, hip, and leg problems like conditions that affect Dachshunds (sausage dogs).
Despite these concerns, TICA has determined that the breed is physically sound. In 1994, the Munchkin was accepted into its new breed development program. TICA championship status was granted in May of 2003.
The breed is not yet recognized by the Cat Fanciers' Association.