Shorthaired Munchkins are very friendly, highly energetic cats who love to run, chase and play with their toys. They are very curious and will sit up on their hind legs like a bunny to get a better view of something that interests them. Once you meet one of these adorable cats, they will capture your heart forever.
This cat breed emerged from a spontaneous genetic mutation. Their short legs, which they are well-known for, are produced by an autosomal dominant gene. This causes the cat’s long bones to develop at a shorter length. These felines only need a copy of this gene to pass this trait along with their kittens.
Munchkins are highly intelligent. They are inquisitive enough to hunt and capture small objects. They are also very skilful at retrieving small items in fetch games and can learn to walk on a leash in a short time.
These playful cats are well-known for their hoarding tendencies. Similar to the Magpie, Munchkins will borrow and steal small, sparkly objects and hide them away until the time they need them. While quite energetic, Munchkins do not struggle climbing into bed and snuggling with their human companion. They do well in all living environments but are an excellent choice for families with children and other pets.
Munchkins can run very fast, like squirrels, and are skilled in keeping up with canine companions and children. Their lower body height permits them to quickly slide under objects without having to stop and bend down. While they may not be able to jump from the floor to the top of furniture in a single bound, they will still show off their jumping and climbing ability as they find a way to get there with smaller steps.
Currently, Lilieput of Napa, California, holds the world record of being the smallest living cat. This cat is a tortoiseshell Munchkin cat that stands a mere 13.34 centimetres tall, measured from the bases of her paws to the top of her shoulders. She was awarded the title by The Guinness Book of World Records in 2013.
Their name “Munchkin” was derived from the diminutive inhabitants of Munchkin City in the 1939 novel written by L. Frank Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz.” Due to the complicated breeding process and being a result of genetic mutation, Shorthaired Munchkins are still relatively rare.
- Grooming: Once a Week 2/10
- Shedding: Medium 6/10
- Hypoallergenic: Low 2/10
- Activity Level: High 10/10
- Playfulness: High 10/10
- Friendliness to other pets: High 10/10
- Friendliness to children: High 10/10
- Affection towards it’s owners: High 10/10
- Vocality: Medium 6/10
- Intelligence: High 10/10
- Independence: Low 2/10
The Munchkin breed is pretty new but the mutation they result from has been around for a while. These short-legged cats have been documented worldwide throughout the years. They first appeared in 1944 when British veterinarian Dr. H E Williams-Jones documented four generations of short-legged cats, including an 8-year-old black female cat that had a very healthy life. The report detailed that her dam, grand-dam and progeny all were alike, and the only variation between them and normal cats were their short legs.
Unfortunately this line vanished during World War II but the same trait was seen elsewhere throughout the years. For example, in 1956 in Stalingrad, in 1970 in New England and in the 1980s in Louisiana.
Then, in 1983, a Louisianan woman Sandra Hockenedel rescued a pregnant short-legged female cat that turned out to be the foundation for the Munchkin breed. Sandra named this female cat Blackberry, who had a litter of kittens. Sandra gave one of the male kittens, named Toulouse, to her friend Kay LaFrance. The breed was established from these two cats using domestic cats as an outcross to safeguard a vast gene pool.
In September 1994, The International Cat Association accepted the Munchkin into its New Breed development program. This program tracks the cat pedigrees used to produce the new breeds and oversees the breeding statistics as the breed develops under the Genetics committee's supervision. The breeding data exhibits that their short legs followed a dominant genetic pattern like that in the Dachshund and the Corgi.
After years of observation and development, the Munchkin achieved Championship status effective May 2003. While The International Cat Association recognizes Munchkins and allows participation of the breed in cat shows, Cat Fanciers Association does not.
Munchkins have two possible coat lengths and there is a painter's palette of colours and patterns they can possess. These diverse colours and patterns have been presented through the outcross program that preserves the cat breed's genetic diversity. In some cases, other cat breeds have been used to present specific features. However, a Munchkin is a unique cat breed and should never look like a miniaturised version of another cat breed.
Short Haired Munchkin cats have a medium-lush, all-weather coat. They are small to medium-sized and weigh between 2.27 – 4.5 kilograms when fully grown, although females are typically smaller. Other than their short legs, the Munchkin cat looks just like any typical cat. Their short legs are a natural mutation that shortens the long leg bones comparable to the one that gives the Dachshunds and Corgis their short height.
These friendly cats are very playful and love to run, hunt and play with their toys. They adore the company of children, dogs and other pets who they will giddily chase around the room playing games.
Munchkins are extremely inquisitive and will sit up on their hind legs like a bunny to get a better view of something that has caught their interests. These confident cats leave no room or corner unexplored or undiscovered. While they may not be able to jump from the floor to the top of furniture in a single bound, they will still show off their jumping and climbing skills by finding a way up with smaller steps.
Munchkins, even with short legs, love speeding around the house and can round tight corners with accuracy. They may not be able to jump atop doors or bookshelves in a single leap but this doesn’t dampen their spirit and still love climbing and jumping.
An easygoing breed, these cats get along well with other cats, dogs and even small children. Once you know these adorable cats, they will capture your heart forever. They are certainly an excellent addition to families but they will be happy in whatever living situation they may find themselves in.
However, they do have a couple of needs. Firstly, as they are active and energetic they need some space to run and play. Secondly, they don’t like to be left alone for long periods of time. To prevent them from boredom, provide them with lots of interactive toys to play alternately. They will also need a cat tree with low entrance points to help them explore height effortlessly.
Shorthaired Munchkins are a joy to train. They are highly intelligent and very curious about everything. So if possible, train them while they are young. You can start by teaching them simple tasks like where the feeding bowls are, how to use their litter boxes and to scratch on scratching posts only.
As they mature and get used to training sessions, you can teach them more complex tricks, commands, and games. Munchkins love human interaction, so they will treat each training session as quality time well spent.
Be sure to provide plenty of interactive and puzzle toys to encourage and challenge your Munchkin and keep their mind stimulated. Also, give them rewards such as their favourite treats and kibbles when they perform a trick, follow a command or behave during your training sessions.
When a Short Haired Munchkin is correctly trained and familiarised with different people, pets and environments at an early stage, this adorable cat will thrive as a well-behaved, well-balanced and well-rounded family pet.
Grooming these playful cats is quick and easy. Shorthaired Munchkins should be combed or brushed weekly to help eliminate loose dead hair. To maintain their good hygiene, it is best to occasionally bathe your Munchkin, even though they can do it well by themselves. Specific shampoos are available to highlight their lush coat colour. However, using a few drops of traditional dish soap in 8 ounces of water in their bath can be used to take away any dirt or grease on their coat.
To keep their coat healthy, train them to get used to grooming as early as kittenhood. Use a very soft brush to gently brush their coat and remove dead hairs and dirt from accumulating. Remember to make it an enjoyable experience for your cat so they naturally submit themselves for grooming. As part of their training, give them a reward for good behaviour to encourage them.
Check your Munchkin’s ears and eyes regularly as these two body parts can be susceptible to infection. To keep their ears clean, examine them for any dirt or wax buildup. Wipe it out using fresh cotton balls with a vet-approved ear cleanser. Never consider using cotton swabs, as this can irritate or harm your cat’s delicate inner ear structure. If you smell any foul odour, call your vet instantly for care and treatment because this can be a sign of infection.
For their eyes, check them regularly for dirt, stains and discharge. Use a clean, soft cloth moistened with a vet-approved eye cleaner to remove any stains or discharge that may cause infection. Just remember to use a separate part of the cloth to avoid spreading infection.
Brush your Munchkin’s teeth weekly to prevent tartar buildup and tooth and gum diseases. Invest in a vet-approved pet toothbrush and toothpaste to clean their teeth and mouth well. To clean their nails, trim them as often as twice a month and examine their paws for dirt accumulation and injuries.
Because their belly closely touches the floor, it is crucial to keep a Munchkin’s litter box clean at all times. This is to prevent them from getting dirty, clumped litter stuck to their fur. If not monitored regularly, your Munchkin may ingest this dirty litter, possibly leading to health problems.
There is some concern among veterinarians that the Munchkin’s mutation may impact their health and mobility. This is because cats are not a species with naturally short legs. Although most Munchkins appear healthy with no limitations there have been a couple of Munchkins in the UK who experienced mobility issues and painful arthritis.
Munchins bred by ethical, registered, and knowledgeable breeders are generally not at risk of mobility issues or pain due to their short legs. But, because there is a risk, it is vital to choose only a breeder that you can trust and who runs DNA health checks on all their cats.
Although still rare, the Short Haired Munchkin is becoming more popular because of how cute and adorable they look and how endearing their personality is. Their playful, affectionate and loyal nature makes families with children and other pets desire a Munchkin to be their family pet. Children fall in love with these cute cats as they have the same energy and playfulness as them, making them the perfect match. Just make sure to oversee their interactions to avoid any accidents while playing.
Munchkins can live peacefully and harmoniously with other pets, including other cats and cat-friendly dogs. In fact, they love having four-legged companions around for company and play sessions, particularly when their humans are out. Just make sure to introduce them slowly and in controlled areas so they quickly learn to get along well together.