Unlike other cat breeds, Munchkin cats are domestic cats with short legs due to a natural genetic mutation. Like hairless Sphynx cats, people either love or hate them in the beginning. However, the demand and popularity for this breed are increasing day by day.
Munchkins are not accepted by the Cat Fanciers' Association. Conduct thorough research work before you decide to buy a Munchkin cat. If you are interested in this unusual breed, check out our comprehensive guide to get a complete profile with interesting facts.
Munchkin Cat History
Munchkin cats consider their short legs to be naturally occurring genes and not human selective breeding. It is responsible for the short legs of the breed. In the 1930s, these short-legged cats were documented in England.
As per the records, this cat breed has survived for almost four generations before WWII. At that time, the cat population took its toll in Europe.
In the 1950s, another such cat was also reported in the Soviet Union. It is named the “Stalingrad Kangaroo Cat’ for its tendency to sit up on haunches. However, the Munchkin breed that we know today originated in Louisiana, USA.
In 1983, a music teacher in Louisiana discovered that the two cats were hiding under a truck. They were being cornered by a dog. She rescued them and took them home but later noticed three different things about them. Both the female cats were pregnant, short, and had stubby legs with normal-sized bodies.
She kept one of the kittens and gave away the other one. The black-haired cat that she kept is registered as Scottish fold Munchkin. After the cat had their litter, she gave birth to both the short and long-legged kittens. This cat vanished after having a few litters, but her genetic legacy continued.
The breeders of this cat breed thought that this might be a beginning of a new breed. They named it after the little people of Munchkinland from the classic 1939 movie ‘The Wizard of Oz.’
An all-breed judge, Dr. Solveig Pflueger, further carried out research to assess the expression and inheritance of Munchkin’s short legs.
She found out that an autosomal dominant gene caused the long bones of the legs to be shorter. Similarly, it was also discovered that the mutation had occurred spontaneously within the Munchkin gene pool.
A few concerns were raised about these cats. They may include spinal problems, hip dysplasia, and degenerative disc disease. However, the breed was new, so that the studies were not considered conclusive.
The two breeders, Sandra Hochenedel and Kay LaFrance wrote the first breed standard and established a breeding program. Others also joined the cause, and in 1991, this breed was introduced to the public in New York City. In 1994, the Munchkin was recognized by TICA’s New Breed development program.
This program tracks the pedigrees and monitors the breeding statistics. Moreover, it confirmed that the genes governing short legs were dominant, and they can pass to their offspring. Later, the Munchkin cat breed was recognized for the New Breed and Color status in TICA in 1995.
After it got accepted, this breed faced many negative attitudes from the cat fancy than the general public. Nevertheless, it has contributed to its growing popularity.
The Munchkin achieved TICA Championship status in May 2003 after years of controversy. Today, it is accepted for championship in the genetics committee of AACE, TICA, and UFO in both long and short hair. But ACFA, CCA, CFF, and CFA have not been recognized the Munchkin yet.
For keeping the breed healthy and widening the small gene pool, outcrossing with the longer-legged domestic long and short hairs will continue in the future. New genes will be introduced that may affect the body, head, color, coat, pattern, and hair length.
Munchkin Cat vs. Persian Cat
Here are the distinguishing characteristics of a Munchkin and a Persian cat.
Munchkin Cat Physical Attributes
Here are the physical attributes of the Munchkin cat breed.
|The cat has a thick semi-foreign body. The back is sloping upward from shoulders to tail. Similarly, there are firm hips, a well-rounded chest with medium boning. However, this is a firmly developed muscular length but not bulky.
|The head is of wedge shape with rounded contours. Moreover, the cheekbones are defined, with a firm chin but not aligned with the nose prominently. The forehead is flat, and the nose is medium in length.
|The ears are proportionate with the head, alert, with a broader base, and slightly rounded tips. They are placed on top of the head from both sides.
|The eyes are of walnut shape but spaced wide apart. It gives an open and alert expression. However, there is no relationship between eye color and coat.
|Legs and Paws
|Legs are short and set apart when viewed from front or back. The lower and upper forelegs are equal in length. The thigh, hind legs, and lower legs are almost equal in length too.
All four feet are rounded, in proportion to the body, straightforward, not inward or outward.
|The tail has a rounded tip and is usually erect when in motion.
|The pattern, color, and length of the hair can vary in the Munchkin cat breed.
|Coat - Long Hair
||Coat - Short Hair
|The long hair coat is semi-long with a flowing and silky texture. Moreover, it has a moderate and medium undercoat. So, you will have a fluffy munchkin cat.
||A short hair coat is medium to short in length. However, a solid coat may have a less dense coat. The texture, on the other hand, is semi-plush, resilient with a medium undercoat.
Munchkin Cat Personality and Temperament
Munchkin cats have a sweet, active, social, and outgoing personality. They enjoy good company, and their playfulness continues well in adulthood. Similarly, a friendly cute munchkin cat can go well with children and other cat or dog breeds.
They can be easily taught to play fetch and can also leap onto countertops. Moreover, this cat breed obeys voice commands. These curious kittens love to explore the world around them. Despite their short legs, they can run fast.
Munchkins also like to perch on their hind legs like a rabbit to get a better view. When they are not busy planning or running, they love to cuddle and spend time with their owners. Furthermore, they are considered intelligent and self-assured companions.
Munchkin Cat Care and Grooming
The Munchkin cats require less grooming as it is harder to reach specific areas during self-grooming because of their shorter legs. The shorthair cats must be brushed weekly, while the long-haired ones should be brushed twice or thrice a week to prevent hairballs. It also helps them to maintain oral hygiene.
Similarly, this breed should be bathed occasionally to keep them clean. The nails should be trimmed, and the ears must be cleaned as well.
Munchkins can run as quickly as any other feline breed. However, they can’t reach higher places but can jump and climb.
The best place for such cats is inside the home. The owners must keep Munchkins away from outside predators. The best way to engage them is by providing interactive cat toys and playing with them every day.
Diet and Nutrition
It is essential to keep your Munchkin cat breed healthy. There is no food specifically made for these cats. Instead, you can feed them with any cat food recommended by vets. They must be fed the same diet as other domestic cat breeds.
Typically, this cat breed needs a diet rich in animal-based proteins and fats. Similarly, they require a combination of nutrients for proper growth and development. Here are a few things to look for in cat food.
As a carnivore, the munchkin needs protein that comes from animal sources like meat, fish, or poultry.
Fats provide energy for growth. For example, Omega fatty acids are essential for the development of the brain and healthy skin or coat. It should come from sources including chicken fat or salmon oil.
Furthermore, these felines need minerals and vitamins named Taurine for maintaining healthy body weight. Keep in mind; a Munchkin kitten requires a proper food formula to grow. Thus, feed them with the food kitten chow.
You can also give treats to this breed, but it should be limited to only 10% of the cat’s diet. They should also be provided with fresh and clean drinking water. However, the water bowl must be at a place where the Munchkin cat easily accesses it. Additionally, munchkins have no nutritional requirements for carbohydrates.
While making sure that your cat food has nutritious ingredients, ensure that it is also digestible. It will help the body to digest all the nutrients.