Friendly and sweet in temperament, the short–legged Munchkin is highly sociable and loves playing with toys.
The feline equivalent of Dachshunds, Munchkins are instantly recognizable by their short legs and low-slung bodies. The first Munchkins were bred in Louisiana in the 1980s. The exceptionally short legs arose as a random mutation—short-legged cats have occurred naturally in various countries for many years.
This feature has been preserved by Munchkin breeders, and the breed is officially recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA). However, although Munchkins are now becoming popular in both shorthaired and longhaired versions, they are not accepted by many other breed organizations.
The short legs do not greatly hamper movement; Munchkins are said to run like ferrets and sit up on their hind legs like rabbits and kangaroos. In addition, the gene for short legs does not seem to affect health or longevity.
This little cat may not have the jumping ability of its taller cousins, but it still manages to climb on to furniture and is lively and playful. Muchkins do, however, need help with grooming. The Munchkin has been used to create other short-legged breeds such as the Minskin.
Although the development of the Munchkin began only in the 1980s, cats with ultra-short legs are not a recent phenomenon. Accounts of feral cats with this trait date back to at least the 1930s.
Some reports dubbed them “kangaroo cats” because their forelegs were noticebly shorter than their hind legs, giving the cats the appearance of a kangaroo grazing. Early sightings also noted mixed litters of short- and normal-legged kittens, a common occurrence in Munchkins today.
Origin: US, 1980s
Breed registries: TICA
Weight range: 6–9lb (2.5–4kg)
Colors and patterns: All colors, shades, and patterns.