Munchkin cats have striking short legs that are not relatively proportional to their long body. Rumor has it that this cat breed was genetically modified. However, Munchkin’s remarkable short legs are a result of spontaneous genetic mutation. These cats carry an autosomal dominant gene, which causes their leg bones to be abnormally shorter.
Munchkin cats: a ‘short’ history
Munchkins get their distinct short legs from a naturally occurring gene and not from selective breeding. The earliest record of an encounter with short-legged cats was in the United Kingdom in the early 1940s, where a veterinarian described generations of short-legged felines. But they briefly disappeared during the Second World War.
Three decades later, in the United States, Sandra Hochendel discovered a female short-legged cat under her car in Louisiana, where she kept the feline and named her Blackberry. Blackberry’s initial litters consisted of half short-legged and half normal-legged kittens, with one male from the litter was given to Kay LaFrance, whom she named Toulouse.
Blackberry and Toulouse are the descendants of today’s munchkin cat breed.
How are Munchkin cats made
The munchkin cat’s distinct short legs result from a dominant genetic mutation, referred to as the ‘lethal gene’ because when two Munchkins mate and both felines pass on that dominant gene, their litter won’t survive. That’s why when making Munchkin cats, only one parent should have the mutation so kittens can survive.
Breeders intentionally breed Munchkins with regular-sized, normal-legged, or naturally shorter cats that don’t have the Munchkin autosomal dominant gene to produce litters with tiny kittens and short stubby legs.
Physical attributes a Munchkin cat
The breed’s most distinct feature is its legs categorized into three different types, including the super-short, rug-hugger, and standard. A Munchkin cat is naturally born with short legs that have autosomal dominant genes that are heterozygous. This gene is responsible for the distinguishable short legs that Munchkins have, and if kittens don’t carry this gene, they won’t be born with short legs.
Munchkin cats naturally born with short legs are bowed in nature, resulting in their shoulders and haunches being slightly ‘lifted’ since their legs are a little longer in the back than the front part.
Different colors and patterns
A Munchkin cat features an array of coat colors and patterns since many breeds let them mate with different cats. The most common Munchkins are calico, tuxedo, tabby, tortoiseshell, or bicolor.
There are long-haired Munchkin cats that require more grooming to maintain optimal health and appearance. Meanwhile, the more common short-haired Munchkin cat features a medium-plush coat.
Although Munchkin cats have short statures when it comes to their body sizes, they’re considered to be medium-sized and weigh an average of 6 to 9 pounds.
Munchkin cats are very affectionate felines that love the companionship of humans or other cats. They’re curious, outgoing, love to tousle, and play like other cat breeds. The Munchkin cat is seemingly clueless that they’re different from normal-legged cats as they love to play fight with bigger cats and jump to high heights, well at least they try to.
The Munchkin breed many experts and veterinarians have concluded that the Munchkin cat is relatively healthy and doesn’t suffer from any congenital or genetic conditions exclusive to their breed.
Early speculations surrounding the breed are that they would suffer from spinal issues because of their short legs. However, these have been debunked by research and tests conducted in 1995 on the oldest-living Munchkins, who showed no signs of bone problems. Some Munchkin kittens are born with their paws curling backward, but this shouldn’t be considered as an abnormality as their paws straighten out and grow perfectly normal as they age.
However, if you plan on buying a Munchkin cat, make sure you’re purchasing from a reliable breeder to minimize your risks of getting an unhealthy cat.
Common questions about the Munchkin cat
Can Munchkin cats be left alone?
Munchkin cats are very affectionate and are often attached to their owners. That’s why when you leave them alone for a prolonged period, it can affect them significantly, making them feel lonely. When you don’t meet their need for companionship, a munchkin cat can become depressed or develop separation anxiety. Sadly, feline separation anxiety often gets unnoticed by many owners, and they only find out when it has become severe.
Can you breed two Munchkin cats?
No, because when you breed two short-legged Munchkin cats together, their kittens have a relatively small chance of surviving. That’s why it’s not possible to mate two Munchkin cats with each other, and they often get paired with domestic cats or cats with longer legs but with the Munchkin gene. These pair-ups can produce a litter of healthy and short-legged kittens.
Is there a cat that stays small forever?
Yes, there are plenty of cats that stay small forever. These include dwarfs, miniatures, and teacup cats. Although these cats have distinct differences, they all stay small throughout their entire lifespan. The most well-known cat breed that stays small for their lifetime is the Munchkin cat. These felines are the perfect companions if you’re looking for a forever kitten.
The bottom line
Genetically modified cats are those cats with artificially altered genes made by humans. On the other hand, the Munchkin cat breed arose from the spontaneous genetic mutation. Their genes evolved over time without external or human intervention. They were born naturally with the autosomal dominant gene, which makes their legs grow shorter. The historical and scientific proofs show that Munchkin cats are not genetically modified.