Munchkin cats are quick, energetic, fun-loving, and affectionate. What they lack in leg length they more than make up for with their unique look and loving temperament.
The Munchkin is unique among dwarf cat breeds—this petite breed actually fits all the other size indicators of a normal adult-sized cat, except for their little legs. They’re also relatively new, having been legitimized as their own breed in the early 2000s.
Because these cats are the result of genetic mutation and a somewhat complicated breeding process, they are relatively rare. If you’re wondering how much Munchkin cats cost, you can expect to spend between $500–$1200 for a Munchkin cat, depending on pedigree.
Munchkin cats have a distinct look that most cat aficionados either love or hate. These petite pets are noticeably low to the ground, with legs that are about 3 inches shorter than the average cat. The rest of the Munchkin body is pretty typical of your average house cat, with most of these adult cats weighing in somewhere between 6–9 pounds. Visually, many might consider the Munchkin the Dachshund of the cat kingdom. This feline breed even shares a similar nickname to the beloved “weiner dog”—some refer to the Munchkin as a “sausage cat”.
The Munchkin’s short limbs are due to a natural genetic mutation, and are the defining feature of this breed. Munchkin cats come in all color combinations and coat styles, and can be hairless, short haired, or long haired. Short-haired Munchkins have plush medium-density coats, while long-haired Munchkins have silky smooth fur. Popular coat shades and patterns are tabby, calico, gray, and solid black.
Although the Munchkin cat comes in many shades and forms, they are their own distinct breed—not miniature versions of other cat breeds.
Munchkins are active, friendly cats who typically get along with children and other pets. These curious kittens love to explore the world around them—they’ll even perch on their hind legs like a rabbit to get a better view!
These cats are known to keep a fun-loving, kittenish attitude well into adulthood. When they’re not busy playing and running around, these cuddly cats love to snuggle up with their people. These sociable cats love spending time with their humans and are intelligent, self-assured companions.
Munchkin cats can have hoarding tendencies similar to that of a magpie—they love to stash away shiny objects to play with later. If your jewelry comes up missing, your little Munchkin may be to blame.
The Munchkin cat is well-suited to most indoor living situations, as long as he has space to run and play. This energetic cat loves working up serious speed on his little legs, and can round tight corners with precision. He may not be able to make it to the top of a bookshelf in a single bound, but he will still love jumping and climbing—a cat tree with a low entrance point is a great way to help your Munchkin explore heights easily. They can usually get enough air to land on couches and sofas. And they’re also just as good at climbing as other cat breeds, so keep an eye on the curtains.
The Munchkin is an easygoing breed who gets along well with other pets and generally does well with small children. These adorable cats make a loving addition as family pets, or as a companion to adult owners.
Grooming of your Munchkin will be guided by their coat style. Short-haired Munchkins should be brushed weekly, while long-haired Munchkins should be brushed a couple of times a week to keep their coat free of tangles. Your Munchkin will clean himself, but his limited leg reach can make hygiene a little more difficult for this cat. Occasional bathing is a good idea to help keep your little kitty friend clean. You should also keep their nails trimmed and ears cleaned.
Munchkins don’t need a lot in the way of human-guided exercise. These cats love to run and play during the day. Provide them with cat toys, low-to-the-ground cat trees, and scratching poles to help them work out their energy.
“Munchkins love to run and jump despite their small stature,” says Natalie L. Marks, DVM, CVJ, Blum Animal Hospital in Chicago, Ill. “Encourage cat tree play, feather toys and interactive play with other cats and dogs.”
Munchkins are an intelligent breed of cat who can be trained to fetch and walk on a leash.
These cats are naturally social, but early introduction to family members (especially children and other pets) will help your Munchkin kitten feel secure.
Provide your Munchkin cat a diet of quality cat food and fresh water. Because of their short legs, make sure litter boxes, food dishes, and water dishes have low edges to allow your Munchkin adequate access. Check in with your vet to make sure your individual cat is getting their nutrition needs met.
“As a relatively new breed, they are so far thought to be a healthy breed without any increased disease risks. However, because of their very short legs, it’s very important to avoid obesity and keep a lean body condition,” Marks says.
The jury is out on whether the Munchkin’s controversial leg mutation can cause other health issues or spinal problems. This breed is relatively young, so there is a lot for experts to still learn. You can help keep your Munchkin in good health by keeping regularly scheduled vet appointments and taking the advice of your cat’s veterinarian.
While they weren’t recognized as a breed by The International Cat Association until 2003, short-legged cats have existed for many years. Their appearance is the result of a genetic mutation that can occur naturally, although it is bred specifically in most instances. Some debate whether or not it’s ethical to breed Munchkins, since it intentionally passes on the physical deformity of their incredibly short legs, which can impact their mobility. Because of the controversy, the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) and the American Cat Fanciers Association (ACFA) still don’t recognize the Munchkin as an official breed.
Despite the argument around their official recognition, instances of short-legged cats have been around for many years. Tiny cats were recorded throughout the 20th century and around the globe, but appeared naturally and were not bred intentionally until recently. In 1983, the modern day Munchkin breed was born with a litter of kittens from a short-legged cat named Blackberry.
The modern breeding process involves mating one Munchkin (the mutation is not sex-selective) with a cat who doesn’t have the mutation. The mutation is dominant, and will result in a litter of Munchkin cats. However, when two Munchkins are bred together, the mutation is fatal.