The Breed History
The Munchkin is a newer breed, with acceptance in TICA since 1995. The autosomal dominant gene mutation producing shortened limbs arose in 1983 in a black cat born in Louisiana. Outcrossing is limited to non-pedigreed cats only. Periodically, this mutation has arisen in cats unrelated to the foundation cat-approximately 30 cats have been reported since 1990. Sometimes the mutation has occurred in other purebred cats as well as in domestic cats. The name derives from the "Munchkins" in The Wizard of Oz movie of 1939. The actual breed name was cemented following a comment to a reporter about the cats being "cute little munchkins", used in the generic sense.
Weight: females 4-8 lb (1.8-3.6 kg) males 6-10 lb (2.75-4.5 kg)
Coat: Medium and semi-longhaired varieties exist. Texture of the shorter coat is plush with a minimal undercoat. The texture of the longer coat is medium and in the undercoat it is silky, and a ruff, britches and plume are present. All colors and patterns accepted.
Eyes: All colors accepted, and coat and eye colors do not have to be correlated. Eyes are large and walnut shaped.
Points of Conformation: Long bones are significantly shorter than a typical cat and may be slightly bowed and somewhat thickened. Though carpal deviation is not written into the breed standard, some may appear somewhat deviated because of the radius bone conformation. The Munchkin has a medium sized, rounded wedge-shaped head. Ears are medium sized and slightly rounded at tips, the nose is moderate in length, and a slight convexity in profile is accepted. Tail is long, medium, and tapered. The body is medium length with stocky build. Munchkins are about 40% longer than they are high. Feet are compact and round. Normal mobility is present, though sometimes the gait can appear to have a waddling appearance.
Grooming: The Munchkin is a low maintenance cat. Weekly brushing usually suffices. Longhaired cats may need periodic bathing.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Reported breed characteristics: These cats are not recommended for outdoor living. Curious, playful, very affectionate, they keep their kitten personalities late into life. Get along well with other pets and take to leash training. Movement is described as "ferret like". They like to stash their special toys.
Normal Breed Variations
Munchkin Kitten Information Project:
An Internet based breeder survey to establish normal baselines for reproduction was carried out.
54 litters. 221 kittens. Oct 2003-Sept 2004.
Average litter size
Stillbirth rate 6 %, 5% C-sections
Average birth weight: Male 87 g female 78 g
These cats tend not to jump as high as some athletic normal leg phenotype cats but can easily jump as high as a typical Persian cat-about 3-4 feet (Pflueger, S. Pers. Comm.). Dr. Pflueger also reports the incidence of congenital anomalies is in the same range as for other cat breeds.
None reported in the literature
Chondrodsyplasia: The short-legged trait of Munchkin cats is similar in phenotype to the short-legged Dachshund mutation and in humans, achondroplasia. Short-legged cats do not seem to be more susceptible to intervertebral disc disease and as they age, do not develop a higher than expected incidence of degenerative joint disease or other back or leg pathology. The trait is lethal in the homozygote; probably an early embryonic death.
Flat-chested Kittens: Similar to the flat-chested condition in Burmese, whereby reduced dorsoventral chest dimension occurs. This trait is only seen in some lines of Munchkin cats. Signs may include poor weight gain, exaggerated cranial thoracic vertebral kyphosis, vomiting, dyspnea, cyanosis, exercise intolerance and cough, and a ridge along the costo-chondral junction of the ribs. As kittens mature and the rib cage calcification completes, clinical signs abate in many of those kittens that were less severely affected and thus not euthanized in the neonatal period. Though recognized by breeders, the flat-chested kittens have not been widely reported in the literature. Generally, it is first noted at 7-10 days of age. In Burmese cats it has been reported that the condition could possibly be a muscle defect associated with changes in taurine rather than an inherited deformity.
This condition is not apparently linked to the short limb characteristic since the flat-chested kittens can be found in long-legged Munchkin offspring.
Compared with pectus excavatum, this condition results in less pronounced dorsal deviation of the sternum up into the chest.
None reported in the literature
Rare and Isolated Reports "Twisty Cat": Historically, there was some concern that this trait was linked to the short-legged trait but this is now disproved. Twisty cat refers to cats born polydactyl with radius hypoplasia, resulting in localized absent or attenuated bone development.
None commercially available
- Breed name synonyms: Munchie, Munchk, nicknames "Dachshund Cat", "Basset Cat"
- Registries: TICA (Munchkin and Munchkin Longhair), AACE
- Breed resources: Munchkin Breed Club: munchkin.net/
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