The Munchkin cat, easily identified by its short legs, has been increasing in popularity in recent years. Named after the characters from the children’s fantasy novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, these pets have been stealing hearts for the better part of three decades. Don’t be fooled by their short stature—these cats have the same big personalities and even similar athleticism to larger breeds of domestic cats. Interested to learn more? Read on to learn some surprising things about this cute breed!
1. They’re not as new as you think
Munchkin cats aren’t as new to the scene as you might think. As early as the 1930s, British vets documented domestic cats that shared all of the expected traits of a feline but had markedly short legs. It wasn’t until the 1980s when a team of scientists identified that these short-legged cats had a genetic mutation that affects the long bones of the leg, causing this unique trait.
Since then—and after heated debate—the breed has been officially recognised by The International Cat Association (TICA), and achieved Champion status in 2003.
2. Not everyone thinks the breed is a good idea
Although the Munchkin is recognised as a breed by TICA, other international organisations such as Federation Internationale Feline and the Cat Fanciers’ Association, haven’t been so welcoming. Due to concerns about health, these organisations consider these short-legged cats to be cats with a genetic abnormality rather than their own breed. In the almost forty years since the breed reemerged, feline associations have debated whether or not cats with these genetic mutations should be purposefully bred out of concern for the well-being of the animals.
3. Munchkin cats are actually pretty healthy
Vets and even TICA originally feared these cats might suffer from the ailments typically found in short-legged dogs, such as spinal, leg and hip issues. But Munchkins are actually quite healthy. Many owners report that their Munchkins are just as capable as moving freely and even leaping as their long-legged cousins. On rare occasions, Munchkins can suffer from hollow chests or curvature of the spine. They don’t appear to be more prone to health problems than other domestic breeds of cat.
4. Their looks go beyond legs
Besides their short stature, they exhibit many of the same physical characteristics as other domestic cats. They can be short-, medium- or long-haired and can have the full array of coat patterns. While the short- and medium-haired varieties sport a plush coat, the long-haired Munchkin has a silky texture.
Some owners observe that the hind legs are slightly longer than the forelegs, giving the cat the appearance that it is kneeling, but it’s usually not a big difference in leg height.
As with other breeds of cat, owners can expect male Munchkins (typically 2.7-4kg or 6-9lbs) to be larger and weigh more than females (typically 2-3.5kg or 4-8lbs).
5. They’re tricksters and cuddlers
Munchkins are well-suited for a variety of homes and are great options for smaller homes and flats. Because their size does not pose a problem for mobility, they can also be well-adapted to larger homes homes.
Lilleput, a Munchkin cat who hails from Napa, California, holds the Guinness World Record for the shortest stature, standing just 13.34 cm (5.25 in) tall.
Munchkins are becoming a popular breed to mix with other domestic cats, and they have fun names to boot. A Munchkin mixed with a Sphinx is called either a Minskin or a Bambino. There’s also the Skookum (mixed with a LaPerm), the Lambkin (mixed with a Selkirk Rex), the Napoleon or Minuet (mixed with a Persian), the Kinkalow (mixed with an American Curl), the Scottish Kilts (mixed with the Scottish Fold). When mixed with a Bengal, there’s the Genetta.
With all the personality of the cats you know and love, the Munchkin packs a lot of punch into a small stature, proving that good things do come in small packages.
Featured image via Fallenmoons/Flickr