Munchkins are built for speed and agility. They run around all over the place and sneak into the tightest of corners. They are also notable for their exceptional ability to turn on a dime despite their peculiar shape. These little bundles of joy are by no means troubled by their small size. Their tiny legs don’t hold them back, and although they tend to graze the floor as they move about, these cats are quite capable of jumping. They may not reach the height they’re aiming for in one leap, but they will find the right detours to get there in one piece! Their name comes from the film ‘The Wizard of Oz’ whose population of tiny humans had the same name!
Key facts about the Munchkin
- Life expectancy : Between 13 and 20 years
- Type of coat : Short, Long
- Price : Around £200
Physical characteristics of the Munchkin
|Female cat||Between 8 and 9 in|
|Male cat||Between 8 and 9 in|
Munchkins reach adult size at between 9 and 12 months.
|Female cat||Between 4 and 7 lb|
|Male cat||Between 7 and 9 lb|
Black / seal, blue / slate gray, chocolate, lilac, cinnamon, fawn, red, white.
Munchkins can be any colour.
Solid / plain, tabby / striped, colourpoint, bicolour, calico, mink / sepia
All patterns and all divisions are accepted except amber.
Type of coat
2 varieties: one long-haired, and one short-haired.
Blue/aquamarine, golden yellow, green, odd/different coloured
All colours are accepted and there is no link between eye colour and coat colour.
The Munchkin has an atypical physique. Its short legs are associated with a morphology of the semi-foreign type, with a global aspect reminiscent of that of the European. Balanced, it has a well-developed chest, but must not be too heavy or too thin, nor have the hollow back. The legs must show good balance and have no features that can hinder walking.
These little teddy bears have their moments when they love a good old stroke. There’s a good chance they will come searching for affection by rubbing themselves against your hand, or they might just cling to you or come and sleep on your lap.
These pint-sized cats are not in any way affected by their size and are entirely capable of doing everything other cats do. So they, too, need regular periods of activity.
Munchkins are quite happy to stop and take five. They will have periods of rest throughout the day, much like all their feline fellows.
Although their short legs might limit the height they can jump compared to other breeds, this has no bearing on their mental abilities! Basset cats are just as adept as other cats at analysing situations and solving problems.
Fearful / wary of strangers
Of course this all depends on the kind of family these cats grow up in, but when they’ve been exposed to different types of people early on in their life, these little felines are generally sociable and friendly with visitors.
While they enjoy your company when they’re playing and during cuddle sessions, they don’t mind being left alone while you’re not around. They will just be very happy to see you when you get back!
Behaviour of the Munchkin
Munchkins are not known for being any more or less vocal than other breeds.
Need for exercise / Sporty
Just because these cats are small, it doesn’t mean they don’t need to move! Like other cats, you must be sure to offer them physical and mental activities to keep them occupied and contribute to their wellbeing.
Tendency to run away
Although their little paws are quite capable of going about the same activities as other cats, the particular morphology of Munchkins can put them at a disadvantage when outside. Breeders tend to make them house cats (while still keeping them stimulated), which means they don’t really tend to run away. That said, you must always be vigilant, as curiosity may well take this cat to unknown territories...
Greedy / Gluttony
These cats can occasionally (like several other breeds) be on the greedy side. The best thing is to monitor their caloric input to ensure that they maintain a healthy weight.
Munchkin and cats
If both the cats are introduced in a way that respects their needs, Munchkins will get on well with other Munchkins, as well as different breeds.
Munchkin and dogs
As long as the cat and the dog are introduced in the right way, these little cats can get on very well with a canine companion. Since they’re lower down on their paws than a standard cat, and so are their jumps, you must be sure to adjust any hideaway spots to a suitable height, in case they need to have a bit of time out from the dog.
Munchkin and children
It is always important to teach children to respect the cat, as with any other species of animal. You must also be sure to teach them that the Munchkin is smaller than other breeds so must be handled with greater care and gentleness.
Munchkin and the elderly
Even within the same breed, there are always variations from cat to cat, but these little cats can be a wonderful companion for a calmer person. But it is still important that the person is able to play with them regularly.
On average, the purchase price of a Munchkin kitten is approximately £200, with price varying according to lineage, breeding, age and even sex. For your monthly budget you should allow an average of £30 per month to meet their needs by providing quality food and keeping them in good health.
Weekly brushing is recommended for the short-hair variety, and twice a week for the long-haired variety.
Munchkins aren’t known for having heavier fur loss than other cats. You just need to look after their coat with a weekly brush for those with short fur, or twice a week for the short-haired kind.
Nutrition of the Munchkin
There are no particular dietary requirements for Munchkins. Your vet will be able to recommend a good nutritional formula.
Health of the Munchkin
The life expectancy of these cats is between 13 and 20 years, with an average of about 15 years.
Strong / robust
These cats are hardy and their unique morphology is no handicap to them.
Tendency to put on weight
The metabolism of these cats is no different than other cats, and their required energy expenditure is no greater than average. This means it may be advisable to calculate appropriate portions according to their weight with your vet.
Munchkins are generally robust with few health problems specific to their breed. However, there is one condition that comes up from time to time (although it is rare and not specific to the breed), called lordosis. This is a spinal condition that causes the spine’s supporting muscles to be too short, so that it sinks into the cat’s chest, exerting pressure on the lungs, trachea and heart. The condition is classified as ‘mild’ to ‘moderate’, with the most severe cases occurring in kittens, who generally won’t live past 12 weeks. Kittens suffering from a mild form of the condition can live a normal life, but may suffer from shortness of breath during physical exertion.
Munchkins can also present the same conditions as other cats, including oral diseases.
Pairings with moggy cats, as well as European Shorthairs are accepted.
It is important to choose the breeding individuals well and to vary the genepool, as there are genetic features specific to this breed. The gene (M) that codes for the Munchkin’s short legs is dominant, while the gene that coats for normal-length legs is recessive (m). This means the following combinations are possible:
Mm = short legs
Mm = standard length legs
MM = non-viable kitten
Good to know
Interestingly, contrary to what you might think, Munchkins don’t generally suffer from back problems, like Daschunds and Basset Hounds do. Their vertebral column is similar to that of other cats, and just as flexible, meaning they don’t tend to suffer from herniated discs.
It’s also interesting to note that cats of this breed can have one of three different leg lengths:
- Standard: when upright, this cat would be around 10 cm shorter than another ‘normal’ cat
- Super short: legs are between 2 and 3 inches long (there is no precise norm)
- Rug hugger: these are the shortest legs of the three categories, measuring less than 2 inches!
Origins and history
The mutation that gave rise to the Munchkin breed is not a recent one. It appeared spontaneously in a moggy and since 1944, many cats with the ‘short leg’ mutation have been identified around the world. That said, it was in the 80s that a lady found a cat under her car with abnormally short legs, which she named Blackberry. Blackberry got pregnant and gave birth to several kittens, many of which carried the same mutated gene. One of them, called Toulouse, was used as a breeder and between the two of them, Blackberry and Toulouse produced the breed as we know it today - thanks to this mixing with moggies to diversify the gene pool.
Good names for a Munchkin cat: Didi, Niti, Rea, Vix