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16 Facts About Munchkin Cats

The Munchkin cat is a small-statured feline that, in many ways, resembles other cats – except for one very unique feature: it has short, stubby legs, reminiscent of a Welsh Corgi or a Dachshund.

The Munchkin cat’s short legs are the result of a genetic mutation known as achondroplasia. These sweet and adorable Munchkins are one of the most peculiar-looking, yet beloved, cat breeds in the world.

They are well-known for their affectionate and intelligent nature. Their small physique, triangular ears, and big, walnut-shaped eyes have captured the hearts of many feline owners and cat lovers the world over. Just like most cat breeds, they are very playful and love to wrestle. They tend to love to play with toys, other pets, and children.

Want to know more about these cute and furry felines? Here are 16 interesting facts about Munchkin cats:

1. When did Munchkin cats originate?

The Munchkin breed is not as new in the feline world as you may perceive it to be. In the early 1930s, European veterinarians came across and documented a domestic cat breed that had all the traits of a feline but had remarkably short legs. It is believed that during World War II, these cats seem to vanish from the scene for a very long time. It was not until the 1980s that these cats with short, stubby legs seem to reappear in the United States of America. Since that time, this cat breed is officially recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA) and also achieved a Champion status in the year 2003.

2. Who named them 'Munchkin cats'?

It is generally agreed upon that Munchkin cats did not exist by that name prior to 1983. It was during year that a woman named Sandra Hochenedel rescued what would come to be known as a Munchkin cat from the clutches of a local bulldog and gave it the name Blackberry. She soon discovered that Blackberry was pregnant. Interestingly, one half of Blackberry's litter had average length legs while the other half had short legs. One of the kittens from this litter, Toulouse, was adopted by one of Hochenedel’s friends, Kay LaFrance. From that day forward, it is believed that Munchkin cats are the decedents of Blackberry and Toulouse.

3. How big do Munchkin cats get?

Munchkin cats typically grow to be 7 to 8 inches in height and weigh 6 to 9 lbs. Their average life span is 12 to 15 years. Naturally, if given proper care, they can live for a few years longer. They are very sociable creatures who love to run and play. They are intelligent, independent thinkers and are generally quick to learn voice commands. They tend to grow medium-length long silky coats and their fur can rang in colour from black, tortoiseshell, brown, white, or orange. Despite their short legs and compact stature, these Munchkins are physically strong. The rear legs of this breed are longer than their front legs. Even though their short legs may not allow them to jump very high, Munchkin cats are very agile and move at a considerably fast pace.

4. Are Munchkin cats fast?

The real strength of the Munchkin cats lies in their ability to move fast. They have a great amount of energy and utilize it to show off their speed and agility. They can navigate corners like speeding race cars and use their low centre of gravity to get a firm grip leaping. They may not be able to jump very high, but they are excellent climbers, pouncers, and sprinters. Possessing short legs does not limit the ability of the Munchkin to hunt its prey with speed and agility.

5. Are Munchkin cats hoarders?

It's in the nature of a Munchkin cat to hoard shiny objects. They are often referred to as ‘magpies’ - birds who have the same tendency to steal, hoard, and hide shiny trinkets. If you own a cat with short, stubby legs and frequently find jewelry missing, there is a good chance you have  a Munchkin in the house. Coupled with possessing high levels of self-assurance and confidence, the Munchkin cat also has very expensive taste.

6. Why do Munchkin cats perch on their hind legs?

Similar to bunnies, meerkats, or ferrets, Munchkin cats have a habit of sitting up on their hind legs. They do so in order to gain a clear view of whatever catches their interest. They are able to achieve this stance due to their hind legs being slightly longer than their front legs. In the 1950s, due to this unique characteristic, any cat with short legs - most probably a Munchkin - came to be known as the ‘Stalingrad kangaroo cat’ in Russia.

7. Do Munchkin cats get along with other pets and children?

As Munchkin cats are very active and playful, they crave company and demand near-constant attention. They love to hunt, but, when offered, they rarely turn down a warm lap. They adore being cuddled and possess a friendly disposition, especially around children. They rarely display aggressive behaviour and are usually very peaceful, approachable, and loyal to their owners.

8. Are Munchkin cats more curious than other cats?

Curiosity is a common trait in all breeds of cats. This stems from the strong survival instincts they inherited from their feral feline ancestors. However, Munchkin cats take curiosity to another level as they will explore every corner their domain numerous times. They love to investigate anything that catches their eye – be it a specific corner of a room or different people, animals, or pets. This behaviour might seem funny or sometimes annoying to Munchkin owners, but it is a necessary trait that highlights their impulse to hunt as well as their ability to escape from predators.

9. Do Munchkin cats have health problems?

There was a time when these Munchkins were considered a controversial cat breed. There were concerns about their health, especially regarding their spines and overall mobility. However, they are now considered a relatively healthy breed. Fortunately, they generally don’t tend to have additional genetic deficiencies, other than their short legs. Although Munchkin cats normally live a healthy life, it’s important to follow common cat-care precautionary measures in order to protect your cat from health issues like obesity – especially dangerous for small-statured cats. Their eating habits should be monitored to avoid any such complications.

10. How long are Munchkin cat legs?

Another interesting fact about Munchkin cats is that they have three different leg lengths. The first type is standard: Munchkins with normal leg length. The second is super short; third is the 'rug-hugger', the shortest, and perhaps cutest, Munchkin. Because of their small stature, they are sometimes referred to as ‘sausage cats’ or ‘midget cats’.

11. Have Munchkin cats won any awards?

In 2013, ‘Lilieput,’, now a 10-year-old female Munchkin cat, won the title of Shortest Cat in the World. At 13.34 cm (5.25 in), she has held her title since 2013. Lilieput’s owner found this cute tortoiseshell Munchkin stray when she was only two years old. After adopting her, Lillieput was officially registered for the world record. Lilieput has also famously survived a near-fatal pregnancy and an earthquake.

12. Can you breed two Munchkin cats?

One can't just simply mate and breed Munchkin cats. Munchkin cats should not be mated with their own breed due to the existing complications of their leg-growth genetics. Inter-breed mating can lead to early, natural fatalities of their offspring. Therefore, Munchkins should only be bred with another cat breed that possesses normal leg size and genetics. The Munchkin breed came into existence as a result of a spontaneous genetic mutation - their short legs caused by the autosomal dominant gene, which is also sometimes referred to as the 'lethal gene'. If two Munchkin cats are mated together, their kittens will receive this dominant gene, causing a high-risk of fatality.

13. How long do Munchkin cats live?

Like most cats, Munchkins can live an average of 12-15 years. Munchkins tend to look young during their entire lifetime because of their cute and adorable appearance. Adult Munchkins can appear younger and be mistaken for kittens. Once again, it is their small stature that makes them appear younger than they are. One of the misconceptions about this particular breed of cats is that, because of their short legs, they are not considered as active as other cat breeds. However, this is not the case at all. Even if they do have short legs, they usually lead very healthy and active lives, which contribute to their young appearance. 

14. Are Munchkin cats easy to train?

These amazing, short-legged cats are very easy and fun to train. Similar to dogs, Munchkin cats can be taught to walk on a leash or play fetch with different toys and objects. They are intelligent enough to respond to human commands much like a dog would. Cat breeders believe that these skills are easier for Munchkins to learn due to their highly intelligent and self-assured nature.

15. Are Munchkin cats good pets?

Even though the Munchkin is recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA), the breed is not well-respected by other international organizations. The Federation International Feline and the Cat Fanciers’ Association especially do not consider these felines as a breed of their own, rather they consider these cats to be genetically abnormal. The debate among associations about the ethics of breeding Munchkins continues.

16. Some other interesting facts about Munchkin cats

Munchkin cats are rapidly becoming a very popular breed to mix with other breeds of cats. They have, with time, inspired interesting names as well. For instance, a Munchkin, when mixed with a Sphinx, is either called a Minskin or a Bambino. 

The Munchkin was formally introduced to the world via a cat-themed TV show, broadcast nationally in 1991. The show was sponsored by The International Cat Association (TICA) and hosted at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

This cat breed has become very popular among celebrities. Paris Hilton has been known to carry her Munchkin, Shorty, around in her handbag.

Last, but surely not least, this cat breed is named after the Munchkins from the The Wizard of Oz (1939).