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
The Munchkin is short-legged breed of cat who arose from a spontaneous mutation in Louisiana in the early 1980’s.
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, which is seen in humans too. It was first observed in a population of cats in the 1930’s 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 requires 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). As a result, you can not breed Munchkin to Munchkin and domestics are used to outcross to. When mating a Munchkin with a long-legged cat, approximately 50% of the litter will be short legged.
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
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 is a condition that 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 recognises the Munchkin for the above reasons. Notably the CFA, GCCF and FiFE.
Did you know?
The breed name came from the munchkins from the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz.
Other short-legged cats have appeared in the past. Several generations occurred in England in the 1930’s 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 inches long and hind legs shorter. Everything abo else about the Munchkin is in proportion to the average cat.
It is still somewhat difficult to define a type due to outcrossing with domestic cats, who come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
The breed comes in almost every coat colour and pattern and in both short and long hair.
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, affectionate and get along well with people, including children and other animals and make a fantastic family pet.
Despite their small stature, the Munchkin can run and jump just like any other cat. They have a similar movement to ferrets.
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.