Munchkin Cat

The Munchkin Cat is a very active breed. It is extremely playful and fits into any kind of family and situation. They are not overly attached, but when a human is around you can be sure there will be some kind of running, jumping, scratching, stalking etc. going on.

This cat was first found in the U.S. in 1983.


The history of the munchkin cat is a relatively short one. Whilst there have always been munchkins around one way or another, they were not bred intentionally or, indeed, recognised as a breed until the 1980s. There are records of short-legged cats from the 1930’s and 40s.

As a breed they originated, in America, from kittens who would normally have been gotten rid of, due to their perceived deformity.

A short-legged cat named Blackberry was rescued by a woman called Sandra Hochenede after living under a pick-up truck. Blackberry was pregnant and had a litter of kittens. Some of these kittens had very short legs. These kittens were allowed to grow up, though, and thrived. They were healthy and happy and just as able to get around as any other cat. They got into just as much mischief as other cats would and they climbed on the kitchen surfaces as much as other cats would. In short (no pun intended) they were exactly like any other cat and the shortness of the limbs was not a disadvantage to the animal at all. On seeing this, the owners bread the kittens to other, regular shaped cats. Half of the kittens produced had standard length legs and the other half had the little, munchkin legs. This lead to the (correct) conclusion that the short legged mutation is carried in a dominant gene. It is standard practice to breed a munchkin with a regular cat, as the resulting number of munchkin kittens is the same and there will be more healthy kittens overall. Most munchkin cat breeders are cat lovers and will find homes for their standard shaped kittens too.

What are they?

One of the questions a lot of people ask when they first see pictures of these animals is “are munchkin cats real?’' The answer, somewhat astonishingly, is yes! They are real animals and a real breed of cat, though not in the traditional sense - there is no required coat type, no specific markings, no typical body shape or tail length, and not all societies recognise the breed. But a munchkin cat can be recognised by its small leg length. This makes them a breed.

The most important thing you’ll need to know to defend your decision to get a munchkin - and you may need to because uniformed people think all sorts of things -is that they are not suffering form dwarfism, they are not the same as "twisty cats'’ and they are not deformed.

There is all sorts of misinformation out there about hybridisation and inbreeding. They are not hybrids and they are not inbred.

One of the things about munchkin cats that attracts a lot of angry comments and general aggression online and on forums is the assumption that the mutation is as a result of inbreeding and is related to health problems. A question you will hear a lot is “are munchkin cats healthy?” The answer to this will vary. The breed itself is. Individuals of any breed may not be. There are a lot of genuine medical conditions that are sometimes wrongly described as being related to or the same as the munchkin breed. Because of this, you need to beware when buying one, and when talking about them online. With most animals the advice is to join a forum. With munchkin cats, make sure you join a munchkin specific forum, if you can find one, and not a generic cat forum. The aggression just isn't worth it.

People think that the shape of the cat itself will cause problems. This simply hasn't been the case. While the Dachshund is prone to disk problems, and other short legged, long bodied dogs can have real issues, the cat spine is created very otherwise from that of a dog.

Another common confusion with munchkins is radial hyperplasia. Radial hyperplasia is a horrendous malformation that can be connected to all sorts of horrible illnesses and conditions that can make the animal very uncomfortable and lead to a lot of veterinary bills. Radial hyperplasia is a foreshortening of the radius in the fore legs, and the radius may not even develop at all. If there are bones there, they will be twisted by the abnormal growth.

There are also types of dwarfism that munchkin breeders are accused of encouraging. Again, this is completely spurious and the long-term health, long life and physical attributes of the munchkin are nothing to do with their short, little legs.

Why will the same number of munchkin kittens be produced however they are bred?

This is because any homogenous munchkin foetuses are reabsorbed back into the mother. Homogenous means that there are 2 genes giving the same instructions. In a lot of cases this doesn't matter, but for some reason, the munchkin gene needs to be on its own.

So here's a quick lesson in genetics. The genes in your DNA come in pairs. You get one from mum and one from dad. Mum and dad have these genes in pairs and the offspring get one from each pair. This is true in animals too. The munchkin gene will be shown by a capital ‘M’ and the normal cat gene will be shown by a lower case "n" This is because the normal leg length is what is known as recessive. This means that you need 2 "n" genes - one from each parent - to make an ordinary shaped cat. Because of this, when you breed 2 regular cats together, you will almost always get regular shaped kittens. The only time 2 regular cats have different kittens is when there are mutations in the genes.

General Care

They come in many different kinds of furry coats of both short and long hair. The short hairs need grooming once a week and the long hairs just a bit more. Grooming twice a week is just fine for long hair Munchkins.

When looking for a Munchkin Cat keep these tips in mind, seek out a reputable breeder. Do not accept kittens from a breeder who breeds Munchkins with other Munchkins. There is a high mortality rate for Munchkin Cat litters when bred together, plus a series of health issues that can occur once the kittens start to mature. Munchkins require a special kind of breeding to avoid health issues.


Take a look at the spine and ensure there is not a large dip in front of the shoulders. This might be a sign of health problems to come. Have a vet examine the cat to ensure the heart and lung area is clear of all obstructions.


This is a cat that can be left alone in the home. It is a very active cat and loving cat when it is around adults and children.

Gallery of Munchkin Cat