The Munchkin Cat, AKA the Corgi of the Cat World; you will be hard pressed to find any creature cuter. These dwarfish looking kitties are also known as Magpies because they just cannot resist shiny objects.
The label of “Kangaroo cats” was coined around the time of the second world war when these short-legged cats were rather plentiful in Europe.
The Brief History of Munchkin Cats
The story goes that the contemporary Munchkin kitty was discovered quite by accident in 1983. Sandra Hochenedel, a music teacher from Louisiana rescued a presumably stray, definitely pregnant, short-legged cat off the streets of Rayville, Louisana.
She named her Blackberry. Blackberry went on to have a little son, Toulouse, who was later bred with domestic cats. The progeny of Blueberry and Toulouse became known as the Munchkin breed, apparently named after the little folk in the children’s fantasy novel: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Outbreeding with shorthairs and longhairs is encouraged to diversify the gene pool. The ‘Magpie’s’ short legs are a dominant gene, as they are in dog breeds such as Dachshunds and Corgis. The International Cat Association recognized the breed in 2003, although The Cat Fanciers Association has not yet done so.
Sightings of these Kitty Corgis go further back than the 1980s though, to 1930 Europe and England.
The Munchkin Mutation of This Short Legged Cat
The ‘short-leggedness’ of the Kangaroo cat is due to a dominant genetic mutation which affects the long bones in the hind legs. At the risk of science talk, a cat needs to inherit only one dominant autosomal gene to present with the Munchkin trait and pass it on to its kittens.
Two Munchkins cannot breed since a mutant gene from each parent becomes what is called a ‘lethal’ gene, which means the embryos won’t survive.
Kitties of normal leg length might carry the gene and produce a litter of Munchkin kittens. Although geneticists are certain the mutation presents no deformities in the Magpie cats’ joints or spine, some critics of the breed may disagree.
The Appearance of These Kitties
Looks-wise, the short legs dominate – of course! Aside from this, the Munchkin Cat looks and acts just like any other typical kitty. They are medium-sized cats, of various colors, fur length and patterns.
Average Size and Weight of These Cats With Short Legs!
The Munchkin Cat breed is of medium size, although unusually short in stature. In 2013, Lilieput, a tortoiseshell Munchkin cat from Napa, California was named the world’s shortest cat alive by Guinness World Records. She stands just 5.25 inches tall at her shoulders.
Munchkins typically weigh between 5 and 10 pounds. Males are usually between 6 and 9 pounds, while females weigh slightly less at around 5 to 8 pounds.
Coats and Colors Explained!
Munchkins come in all colors and various patterns and are both long haired and short haired. Longhaired varieties have long silky coats and are known as Munchkin Longhairs. Shorthaired Munchkins sport a medium plush coat.
What Are Their Grooming Requirements?
The Magpies of the kitty world are easy to groom, especially the short-hair varieties. Long-haired types should be combed or brushed twice a week to avoid having a tangled or matted Munchkin coat.
It is recommended that you begin a routine of nail trimming, brushing, ear cleaning and teeth brushing at the kitten stage so that the adult Munchkin is already well accustomed to these intrusions.
Temperament and Personality: What to Expect!
They may be short on the leg side but definitely not on character, and don’t discount their intelligence! Comparable to a low slung sports car, these Corgis of the cat world are fast, energetic and more agile than their appearance suggests.
They love to be handled, and their friendly demeanor means they’re keen to play, whether it’s with the family dog, other cats or kids.
They’re easy-going felines, not fussy about playmates and love to learn tricks and solve cat-type puzzles. If you fail to entertain your Munchkin cat, they may be a little vocal. Keep them busy and they’ll be quietly content.
What is the Munchkin Cat Lifespan?
Your Shorty Cat should live ten or fifteen years. Short in stature does not equate to short in years.
Cats with Short Legs Can Live Long Lives!
The Munchkin cat breed is particularly healthy as cat breeds go and as such live long and happy lives.
List of the Breed’s Potential Health Issues!
Munchkins are generally healthy, but being a somewhat young breed, health issues pertinent to the breed may still appear. Surprisingly enough spinal problems are not detected in this breed of short-legged cat.
- A fat cat is not a healthy cat, especially with a breed of this body type. It would, therefore, be advisable to keep a lid on the unhealthy treats and maintain a nutritious diet for optimum well being.
- Hypochondroplasia is the partial dwarfism mutation specifically bred into this breed. It seems not to cause any associated health issues.
- Breeding a female Munchkin with a male Munchkin will result in the ‘lethal’ gene, and the resultant kittens will not survive the embryonic stage. Spontaneous abortion will occur in such cases.
- Lordosis is an excessive curvature of the spine which manifests in a pelvic tilt and low slung back.
- Pectus excavatum is an excessively hollowed chest. This genetic deformity common to dwarfism occurs when the sternum and ribs develop abnormally.
Lordosis and Pectum excavatum are obviously apparent in affected cats. Not all Munchkins are afflicted with these manifestations. Those with these conditions should never be used for breeding.
Breeders of merit should offer a written health guarantee.
Munchkin Cat for Sale!
Breeders of these sometimes controversial shorties should be carefully selected. To this end check with your vet and the Fanciers Breeder Referral List and The International Cat Association.
How Much do Munchkin Kittens Cost?
Kittens range between $250 and $500.
Adult Munchkin Cat Price!
Older Munchkins are less expensive than kittens. You should pay around $100 for an adult from a shelter.
Find Reputable Munchkin Cat Breeders!
Only consider buying your Munchkin Cat from a reputable breeder who has health certifications which screen out genetic health problems.
Another salient point when selecting a breeder is that they raise kittens in the home. Kittens who grow up isolated may be skittish scaredy-cats who will be a problem being socialized in a home with other pets and children.
Your vet and Breeder, as well as Cat Associations, should be a good place to start looking for the right Munchkin cat breeder.
Adopt, Don’t Shop! Ask an Animal Shelter About Munchkin Rescues!
Most Rescue Munchkins are homeless due to no fault of their own. These friendly and outgoing kitties would love to be yours. Check with your local animal shelter or vet for opportunities to give a rescue Midget Cat a forever home with you and your family.