Munchkin cats are one of the hottest cat breeds in North America since their beginnings in the early 1990s. They look like regular domestic shorthaired or longhaired cats except for four big differences – they have tiny legs. This makes Munchkins the Dachshunds of the feline world. The tiny legs are the result of a dominant gene mutation for dwarfism. According to “ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats” (Chronicle Books, 1999), this gene has also appeared in the UK during the 1930s and in the USSR during the 1950s.
While the intentional breeding of dwarf cats remains a controversial issue, meanwhile there are plenty of Munchkins already born. Sadly, as what happens to any breed that suddenly becomes popular, many are abandoned when they grow out of their cute kitten phase. Many animal shelters, cat rescue groups and Munchkin rescue organizations exist to help pair cats and owners.
What should anyone that adopts a Munchkin expect from his or her new cat? Unlike cats with regular length of legs, Munchkins have trouble jumping up onto surfaces or down from surfaces. Many Munchkins also have the instinct to sit like a regular cat, but cannot due to their tiny front legs. So they sit anyway with their front legs dangling down, looking somewhat like a rabbit.
Many Munchkins are able to many things a normal-legged cat can, including climbing trees, running without difficulty and playing with other cats. Many Munchkins are able to groom themselves, despite their short legs. However, it is always good to give a cat, no matter what the breed, a daily inspection just to be sure they are able to clean themselves. Dirty cats with tangled fur can lead to serious skin infections.
Munchkin cats do not seem to realize that any special fuss should be made of their unusual anatomy. They tend to act just like any other cat. Each Munchkin is an individual and therefore will have his or her own quirks. Munchkins have the reputation of being very friendly and good with children. This may be due to all of the attention they have received as kittens for their short legs rather than any genetic trait.
Munchkins, like most other cats, are very intelligent because they relied on that intelligence to hunt. Munchkins can hunt, so do not assume they can’t kill a pet rodent or bird. They can. They can problem solve. This means they can also learn basic commands. Whether they will perform the commands is another matter, but at least they can learn.
“ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats.” James R. Richards, DVM. Chronicle Books; 1999.
MessyBeast.com: “Dwarf, Midget and Miniature Cats (Teacup Cats.)” Sarah Hartwell. http://www.messybeast.com/dwarfcats.html
Petfinder.com: “Munchkin Cat.” http://www.petfinder.com/cat-breeds/Munchkin