Breed Profile: Munchkin Cat

Munchkin cat relaxing in the garden, Johannesburg.
Michael Beder / Getty Images

Munchkin Breed Brief:

Although Munchkins have only recently been accepted as a breed (in TICA, but not in CFA), they have been around for decades. Munchkins can most appropriately be described as "regular cats" with short legs. Like the Sphynx cats, they foster a "love or hate" reaction at first glance, but are gaining appeal with time.

Munchkin History:

In the 1940s, in the U.K., a veterinarian described several generations of short-legged cats.

Although this line disappeared during WW2, in 1953 a short-legged cat was seen in Stalingrad. However it wasn't until 1983, when a short-legged cat, later named Blackberry, was discovered by by Sandra Hochenedel in Louisiana, that today's Munchkin breed was born. Blackberry's first and subsequent litters consisted of about half short-legged and half long-legged kittens.

A son from one of Blackberry's litters, Toulouse, was given to Kay LaFrance, a friend of Hochenedel. It is from Blackberry and Toulouse that today's Munchkin breed is descended.

A Natural Genetic Mutation:

Munchkins owe their short legs to a naturally-occurring genetic mutation, and not from human manipulation. The gene responsible for the breed's short legs has been likened to the same one that gives Dachsunds and Welsh Corgis their diminutive stature. However, since the spine of a cat is physically different from that of a dog, Munchkins do not suffer spinal problems sometimes associated with those canine breeds.

Living with a Munchkin:

Munchkins are sometimes described as "ferret-like" in their playfulness, as they run, chase, and play with toys. They also have an endearing way of sitting up, rabbit-like, on their hind legs, a trait which gave the Stalingrad cat the name of "Stalingrad Kangaroo Cat." Because Munchkins may be bred to a wide number of breeds, an individual cat's personality will depend on its inheritance.

All-in-all, however, they have been described as loving, sociable, and playful by Munchkin fans.