The Munchkin: a friendly cat with short legs

Munchkin walking on a path outside

When you see a Munchkin walking, there is one thing that stands out first: the legs. The legs of the Munchkin are very short, so the body hangs low to the ground. The Munchkin is also seen as a dwarf grass. This looks nice but can also cause annoying problems. Besides that, the Munchkin is a sweet and social cat with a temperamental character. Because his special appearance is seen by many people as a defect, this breed is not yet accepted by many breed organizations. If you are interested in the Munchkin, there are a few things to take into account. Do you want to know what these things are? Then read on!


The origin: Louisiana

The Munchkin is a relatively new breed and was first bred in 1983 in Louisiana.  During breeding it was not the intention to create a cat with short legs, so that happened by chance. Cats with short legs occurred naturally, so the Munchkin is not a unique cat in that respect. In the past more breeds have been found that had this mutation, but the Munchkin breeders have maintained this characteristic.

This breed probably descends from the standard black cat. The gene that caused the Munchkin to have short legs is a dominant gene that he got somewhere. This probably originated during the breeding process. The name Munchkin is derived from a series about dwarfs.

The breed was officially recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA) in September 1994. The Munchkin was included by TICA in its New Breed development program. They followed the pedigrees and breeding statistics of the cats used to create this new breed. This showed that the short legs of the Munchkin, just like the Corgi and the Dachshund, follow a dominant experience pattern. Unfortunately, the Munchkin is not seen everywhere as a real breed. In fact, there are many countries where the Munchkin is not counted as a breed, for example in the Netherlands.


The character: sweet, playful and social

The Munchkin is known for its friendly, sweet and playful character. If you are a dedicated owner, this cat will have a lot of love to offer you. A Munchkin is very social and loves to play with people. He is also a big fan of cat toys. If you choose to have a Munchkin in your home, then you know that you need to buy a lot of cat toys to keep your little dwarf happy. Another characteristic of the Munchkin is that it is very fast and very agile. For example, they can run very fast through bends. They also prefer to stay low to the ground. They are very capable of jumping but are less good at it because of their short legs.

The Munchkin generally gets along well with children and other pets. This makes him a suitable cat for families. When the Munchkin comes to your house, it is important to introduce him to the other family members as soon as possible. This will allow him to quickly get used to his new environment. This is good for his health.

Infographic Munchkin

The appearance of the Munchkin

That the most important characteristic of the Munchkin is its short legs is now clear. Another striking feature is that the tail can sometimes be as long as the whole body. The Munchkin can have both short and long hair. The only difference between the two is the length of the coat. On average this cat weighs between 2 and 4 kilos, which is quite light for a cat. This has mainly to do with his small physique. Females are generally a bit smaller and lighter than males.

The Munchkin can come in all kinds of coat colours and coat patterns. All combinations between colours and patterns are possible with this breed. For example, you can find the Munchkin in the following colours:

  • Brown
  • Black
  • Cinnamon
  • Red

In addition, all kinds of different patterns are possible, for example stripes and dots. So, the Munchkin is a diverse breed when it comes to appearance. In the breed standard of TICA you can read more about the characteristics a Munchkin has to meet.


The upbringing: socialisation of the cat is very important

When it comes to raising the Munchkin, there is really nothing special to report. Just like with other breeds, the right upbringing starts right from birth. It is important that a Munchkin is only bought after the second socialisation period. This is when a cat is fourteen weeks old. On average, a cat needs about fourteen weeks to learn everything from its mother. After these fourteen weeks he is ready to go out on his own.

It is important to let the kitten get used to human touch during this socialisation period. This has a big advantage for the future. He is already accustomed to the touches and it is much easier to take care of his coat, teeth and nails.

When you take in a Munchkin, it is essential to continue this upbringing in a good way. This means that you make sure he has a nice place to relax. This also means that you make sure he gets used to the other family members as soon as possible. It is important to teach children the right manners when it comes to dealing with cats right away. This also applies to the other pets that may be present. Make sure that the Munchkin gets used to his new environment as soon as possible. This will ensure that he can grow up healthy and happy.

In addition, make sure there are enough playing opportunities. A Munchkin is a real indoor cat, this means he has much less play possibilities than cats who are outside a lot. That is why it is wise to buy a scratching post. Also make sure you have enough cat toys.

Two Munchkin kittens outside

The care: simple but important

Taking care of the Munchkin is quite easy. To keep the coat beautiful and healthy it should be brushed once a week. Once a week is only sufficient for the short-haired Munchkin. If you have a long-haired Munchkin in the house, then it is advisable to comb more often. The chance of tangles and with that the chance of skin disorders is bigger with the long-haired Munchkin. Even when the cat is moulting, it is advisable to comb more often to prevent hairballs.

It is also important that you make sure you have a good scratching post in the house so that the cat can sharpen its claws. This is part of taking good care of your cat. Because the Munchkin lives mainly indoors, a scratching post also ensures that your cat can use his energy in a good and healthy way. This is essential for his health.


The nutrition the Munchkin needs

As most people know, a balanced diet is very important to keep a cat healthy. In cats, getting in enough animal protein is essential for a healthy and happy cat’s life. A cat’s intestinal system is made to digest animal protein. Fish and meat, in particular, contain this type of protein. Animal proteins contain all the essential amino acids a cat needs. Especially the amino acid taurine is very important. If a cat does not get enough taurine it can have bad consequences for its health.

Wet food is often preferred, but a combination of wet and dry food is generally the best option. Make sure you have a fixed eating schedule and try to keep snacks within limits. A Munchkin is quite prone to being overweight, partly due to the fact that he cannot play outside. That is why it is also important to keep an eye on its weight. If you notice that it is getting thicker, make sure that the portions are a bit smaller. Also adjust the amount of food to your cat’s activity. If your cat is very playful and runs a lot, he may need a little more food than a cat that is mainly in his basket.


Munchkin cat sitting down

Diseases that are common with the Munchkin

The Munchkin originated from a mutation. Because of this mutation this breed has shorter legs. Because this breed is still relatively new, little is known about the impact of this mutation. Until now the gene for short legs does not seem to have any influence on the health of this cat. However, there is a chance that he will have problems with his spine, because this occurs more often in cats with smaller limbs. In addition, it is relatively common for the Munchkin to suffer from a dented sternum, this can cause problems with breathing. Unfortunately, not much is known about these conditions. Therefore, we cannot give concrete answers. If you have a Munchkin in the house and notice that he has breathing problems, a vet can often help. They usually already know a lot about the possible diseases in this breed.

Because this cat has smaller limbs, there is also a chance that he will have problems with his tendons. These small paws have to carry the burden of the cat’s body. So, it is wise to keep an eye on whether your Munchkin keeps walking normally. If you see that your cat is moving in a strange way, it is wise to call in a vet.


How old can a Munchkin get?

A Munchkin becomes on average about 12 to 15 years old. This is a fine age for a cat. In spite of its dwarf growth, this cat has little physical defects, so it can live a happy life and grow quite old. In order for your cat to grow old happily it is very important that you take good care of him. The impact of proper feeding and raising during the socalled period has a big impact on the age of the Munchkin. Especially overweight is a real culprit. So, it’s really important that you take the time to find out what rhythm of feeding and grooming works best for your cat. If you notice that your Munchkin is overweight but hungry it is advisable to buy special food.

Also, the amount of attention the Munchkin gets has a lot of influence on how old he gets. Because the Munchkin is a real companion cat, it is essential for his mental and physical health to get a lot of attention. It is therefore not advisable to buy this cat if you are single or have no other pets.


 Munchkin walking outside

What you need to know before you bring in a Munchkin

It is good to know that the Munchkin is a real indoor cat. Because of his short legs he has difficulty jumping and can hardly escape dangerous situations. When he is inside this cat feels most at ease.

It is also good to know that it is forbidden to breed a Munchkin in certain countries, for example in the Netherlands. The reason for this is that the Dutch authority does not see this breed as a real breed. They assume that breeding cats with an abnormality leads to health problems that are detrimental to the welfare of these cats. This also applies to the Munchkin. It can therefore be difficult to buy a Munchkin. In other countries the Munchkin is recognized as a real breed. Also, in America they are sold a lot more. So, it is just a matter of finding out where you can buy the Munchkin. In Belgium it is legal to breed the Munchkin. If you want more information you can consult a Belgian breed association. Or you can visit the websites of the Munchkin-breeders.


What price do you have to think of if you want to buy a Munchkin?

The average price for a Munchkin is around $750. This differs per breeder and the organisation where this breeder is a member. It is really advisable to buy the Munchkin only from a recognized breeder. This way you can be sure that the socialisation period has gone well and that you are buying a healthy cat.

In addition to the purchase costs of the Munchkin, you also have to take the maintenance costs into account. These costs are around $650 per year. Think of costs for food, a litter box, a scratching post and veterinarian costs. Also buying cat toys is important for this breed and can cost a lot of money.Munchkin standing view from the side

What do you think of the Munchkin?

Do you have a Munchkin in your house, and do you enjoy this cat very much? Do you have a tip for our readers? Or are you planning to buy a Munchkin after reading it? Let us hear from you! We are very curious about your experiences with the Munchkin.

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We are a team of cat lovers, doing our best to create and spread information about cats. On you will read all about different cat breeds, and what makes them so special. You will also find information about grooming and training your cat. Be sure to leave us a reply if you like our article.

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