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September 16, 2018 |0 min read

Munchkin Cats Basics

Written by

Sharilyn Vera

Munchkin cats are absolutely adorable with a full-sized body standing on petite legs. They are delightful felines with a great temperament for families. In some cats, the short legs hamper their jumping ability, but many of them do just fine. This breed is prone to a few skeletal malformations as they age due to their unique posture, but for the most part, make great pets just like any domestic cat breed.

How Munchkin Cats Came to Be 

Like some tailless varieties of felines, Munchkin cats are the result of a genetic mutation. There are reports of cats with this specific malformation dating back to the mid 20th century, but it wasn't until more recently that people tried to purposely breed them that way, creating an official breed. A Munchkin named Blackberry is the founder of the breed, via a cat lover who found her pregnant on the street in 1983 in Louisiana. Now they are bred with other types of cats to keep a wide gene pool and avoid genetic weaknesses.

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The name comes from L. Frank Baum's book The Wizard of Oz, also a well-loved movie. The short cats reminded the original breeder of munchkins, small people who live in the iconic Munchkin Land, where Dorothy finds the start to the Yellow Brick Road.

Munchkin Physical Characteristics

Munchkin Cat
The most striking physical quality of a Munchkin cat is obviously its short legs. Many cat lovers compare them to a Dachshund dog. Other than the stout legs, the body and head are about the same size as a usual cat. They can be any pattern and may have short or long hair. Some cats develop problems throughout their life due to their posture, but overall, they are like any cat, just a bit closer to the ground.

Munchkin Cross Breeds

As a Munchkin is simply a cat with short legs, they can be bred with other cat breeds to create a new munchkin variety.
The Bambino is a Munchkin Sphynx Cat. The cat has no hair and short legs, giving it a very distinct look.
The Kinkalow breed is an absolutely adorable feline with short legs and the curled ears of the American Curl cat.
A Lambkin cat is just hopelessly adorable. It has the curly fur of the Selkirk Rex and the short legs of the Munchkin.
Finally, the Napoleon is a majestic yet short cross between a Persian and a Munchkin.

Munchkin Cat Common Health & Care Issues

Cute Munchkin Cat
Many think that Munchkin cats can't jump, but they actually can. They may not get to the top of the cat tree in one leap, but they will get there at some point if they really want to. Some of these cats may stand up on their hind legs to see better. 
There are some health problems stemming from their small stature. They may get something called lordosis, a condition that causes the spine to droop down. The deformity puts pressure on the organs and can lead to some serious health problems. 
There is also a correlation between the genetic marker for small legs and that for a concave chest. This doesn't always lead to health problems but it can. Besides these two possibilities, Munchkin cats can live a very healthy and fulfilling life as a house cat. It's important to remember that the first munchkin cats were actually ferals, meaning they survived just fine on their own in the urban wild.
The Munchkin's crossbreed will dictate other care concerns like grooming, nutrition and dental.
Munchkin cats have adorable personalities to go along with their delightful appearance.

Written by

Sharilyn Vera

Sharilyn is a proud cat owner, long time storyteller and researcher. Her work spans beloved podcasts, television shows, media outlets, and independent documentaries. She likes to strike a balance between education and comedy, which you can hopefully tell when you read her articles!

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