The A-Z of Cats
Pedigrees of the World – The Munchkin
Munchkin cats are a relatively new breed created by a random mutation that produced a cat with extremely short legs. Munchkin cats have short or long coats in a wide variety of colours. There is no doubt that your first glance at a friendly, self assured Munchkin will leave you feeling like someone cut their legs off. The cats exhibit shortening and bowing of the long bones, similar to that seen in the Corgi and Dachshund, but no other skeletal changes associated with the gene. The spine is usually indistinguishable from that of other cats. There is no evidence to suggest that the gene for short legs hampers survival, or quality of life.
Although the short legged cats from Europe seem to have disappeared, the trait reappeared in New England in the 1970’s and in Louisiana in the 1980’s. In 1983 Sandra Hochenedal found a pregnant black, female, short legged cat (Blackberry) under a pickup truck. In Blackberry’s first litter and in each subsequent one, she passed the trait on to about half her kittens. Sandra called them Munchkins after the little people in the Wizard of Oz. Toulouse, one of Blackberry’s sons, was given to a friend named Kay La France who established a colony of Munchkins on her Louisiana Plantation. The present Munchkins are thought to be descendents of Blackberry and Toulouse.
Munchkins have kitten-like personalities, and they keep their kittenish ways all their lives. They are very affectionate and love to be around adults, children, dogs and other cats. They never tire of human company and prefer to be with a companion. They are not aggressive cats, and are very social and out-going. They are very playful and love to run, chase, climb and play with toys. When it comes to chasing, their short legs give them an advantage over cats with long legs. Those little legs allow them to scramble faster and corner sharper when scurrying after ping pong balls, cat toys on poles, as well as live insects, if they get the chance. This is the cat which may well hide your jewellery under furniture, just like a Magpie. They readily accept a harness and lead and seem to enjoy taking their owners for walks. The short legs do not seem to affect its climbing ability, but its jumping ability is limited by the shortness of the hind legs. Due to its lack of jumping abilities, the Munchkin can find it very difficult to escape from fights with other animals so it is best kept as an indoor only cat.
This breed is not currently recognized by the GCCF or CFA.