OVERVIEW

When you see the Munchkin moving at high speed, cornering around your dining room table, you immediately drop any preconception that this is a slow or laid-back cat. Instead, he’s an energetic extrovert, ready and willing to play with kids, other cats, and friendly dogs. And don’t think his short legs preclude him from jumping on your furniture. He might not go as high as other cats, at least not in one leap, but he gets there eventually.

The Munchkin is a small to medium-size cat weighing 5 to 9 pounds. Other than his short legs, he resembles any other cat, with a short or long coat, either of which can be just about any color or pattern.

The Munchkin is well suited to any home with people who will love him and care for him. Keep him indoors to protect him from cars, diseases spread by other cats, and attacks from other animals and he can live 13 years or longer.

HISTORY

The Munchkin is a cat breed that sprang from a natural genetic mutation. Reports of short-legged cats have appeared throughout history, including in 1944 in Britain, in 1956 in Russia, in 1970 in New England, and in the 1980s in Louisiana. A cat named Blackberry, who was found as a stray in 1983, was the mother of the Munchkin breed. She and one of her male kittens, Toulouse, were outcrossed to domestic cats. Outcrosses to domestic shorthairs and longhairs are still permitted to ensure a diverse gene pool.

Starting in 1994, The International Cat Association’s new breed development program, which has a genetics committee to monitor breeding data, began to oversee the Munchkin’s development. The Munchkin’s short legs turned out to have a dominant inheritance pattern, similar to Corgis and Dachshunds. The breed achieved full recognition by The International Cat Association in 2003. The Cat Fanciers Association does not recognize the Munchkin.

TEMPERAMENT

This is an outgoing cat who enjoys being handled. He has lots of energy and is faster and more agile than he looks. Think of a low-slung sports car and you get the picture.

The friendly Munchkin likes playing with children and other cats and dogs. On the rare occasion when he’s not in motion, expect to see him sitting up on his hind legs to get a peek at something interesting. He’s not a “leap tall buildings in a single bound” kind of cat, but he is definitely capable of making his way to high places if he so chooses. It just takes him a little longer.

The Munchkin is highly intelligent. Challenge his brain by teaching him tricks and providing him with puzzle toys that will reward him with kibble or treats when he learns to manipulate them.

Always choose a kitten from a breeder who raises litters in her home and handles them from an early age. Meet at least one and ideally both of the parents to ensure that they have nice temperaments.

HEALTH

All cats have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit diseases. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on kittens or who tells you that her kittens are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons.

Munchkins are generally healthy and do not appear to have spinal problems, but this is a young breed, so that could change. It’s always wise to purchase a cat from a breeder who offers a written health guarantee.

Remember that after you’ve taken a new kitten into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the more common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Munchkin at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to protect his overall health.