frequently asked questions

and a few answers


What is a Munchkin?

Answer: The Munchkin is a naturally occurring domestic cat breed characterized by unusually short legs. A spontaneous change in the genetic heritage of the cat has introduced a gene which is similar to that seen in the Bassett Hound, Corgi, and Dachshund, which the Munchkin closely resembles in body style. The Munchkin is a product of nature rather than a man-made breed. Because of the autosomal dominant inheritance pattern, a cat with the Munchkin gene will produce kittens with the same short legs.



Is the Munchkin new?

Answer: Yes and No. Although the Munchkin is very new from the standpoint of the cat fancy, having been first formally introduced to the public at the Madison Square Garden INCATS TICA show in March 1991, cats with short legs were known in England in the 1930's and four generations were described in the Veterinary Record in 1944. However, this line appears to have disappeared during World War II. A Munchkin was seen in Stalingrad in the Soviet Union in 1953, but is is not known what happened to the cat in question.



Where do the present Munchkins come from?

Answer: In 1983 Sandra Hochenedel, then living in Louisiana, was looking for a new cat. What she found was a pregnant black female (since named Blackberry) with short legs living under a pick-up truck. In her first litter and in each subsequent litter, Blackberry passed the trait of her short legs on to about half of her kittens. One of Blackberry's sons, Toulouse, was given to a woman named Kay LaFrance, who established a colony of Munchkins on her Louisiana plantation. The present Munchkins are descendents of Blackberry and Toulouse, although other Munchkins have been sighted in New York and in Boston.



Are Munchkins smaller than other cats or do they just have short legs?

Answer: Munchkins do tend to appear smaller than other cats and they do seem to actually be smaller, although there is a wide range of size. In our experience, male Munchkins (6 to 8-1/2#) tend to be a bit larger than female Munchkins (4 to 8#).



Are Munchkins at a disadvantage because of their short legs?

Answer: So far as has been determined, Munchkins are healthy cats without any unusual problems. Despite the short legs, Munchkins run extremely fast, bounding like ferrets at full speed. They are able to climb trees and curtains as well as any other cat. However, some do not jump as high (while some seem to) because the shorter back legs do not give the same degree of leverage. Although Munchkins can jump easily up on a bed, chair, dresser, windowsill, the kitchen counter top is not always attainable. Whether this is a significant disadvantage depends on one's individual point of view.



Do Munchkins come in special colors or hair lengths?

Answer: Munchkins come in any color or hair length that can be found in the general cat population, as domestic cats are the background parents of Munchkins.



What is the Munchkin personality like?

Answer: Again, because the Munchkin's background is the general cat population, the Munchkin tends to be a pretty regular cat. Although the Munchkin is amusing to watch and the body resembles a ferret more than a cat, the personality is all cat and then some. For some reason, they tend to be very affectionate and people-oriented, seemingly more so than the average non-Munchkin. They readily accept a harness and leash and seem to enjoy taking their owners for walks. The Munchkin is a very sociable creature and enjoys company. Friendly and self-assured, the Munchkin gets along well with other cats, dogs, and people. Despite the short legs, the Munchkin is definitely not shortchanged in either personality or intelligence.



Dachshunds often have back problems - does the Munchkin have any health problems?

Answer: Although it is true that the Dachshund is prone to disk disease, the cat spine is constructed quite differently from that of the dog. Spinal problems are very rare in cats, even in breeds with extremely long bodies such as the Siamese or Oriental. The Munchkin is not expected to have any particular problems compared with other cats. The effects of aging on the bones of the legs is presently being studied. Thus far there is no evidence of any joint degeneration but a complete assessment will take several years to complete.



Why aren't Munchkins being shown for championship?

Answer: From the standpoint of the cat fancy, Munchkins are still very new. As a breed, the Munchkin was first introduced to the public on national network television in conjunction with the Madison Square Garden INCATS TICA show in 1991. Except for UFO, they have not yet been recognized for championship competition. However, there is a growing interest in these unusual cats, and it is felt that acceptance will come with time once genetics and effects of the short legged trait are better understood. Developing a new variety of cat to the point of championship competition is a lengthy process, and the Munchkin as a breed is only just beginning.



Munchkins seem to be very rare - are they expensive?

Answer: At present the supply of Munchkins is still very limited and there is often a waiting list for kittens. People are actively working to develop the breed, and Munchkins will be available. Prices for pets and breeders are comparable to the more common established cat breeds, and the price of a given cat should be based on its quality rather than the fact that Munchkins are still very rare and the demand far exceeds the present supply.

MUNCHKIN HISTORYTHE TICA STANDARDTHE UFO STANDARD


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