Munchkin cats are the carriers of natural mutation that gave these cats small, but strong and muscled paws. This feature shows up in their posterity where achondroplasia gene dominates. Put simply, munchkin kittens who have such heredity inherit microplasia due to their limb reduction.
However, this fact doesn’t influence their health, lifestyle or attractiveness to the opposite sex representatives of the common size.
This is why short pawed cats are seen all over the world and they can be red, white, black colored, striped and spotty, short-wooled and fluffy.
Midget cats are considered not so much a breed as a separate small little cats family. Munchkins are sociable, docile and affectionate cats, but at that they are brave and noble – just like little tiny characters of “The wonderful wizard of Oz” tale after whom the cat was named.
They are very often compared with bassets, but unlike them these cats don’t suffer from chronic spine problems. Mother nature gave the cats strong bones and musculature.
They are fast, active cats who love chasing balls, hanging on curtains and they can spend several hours at a time standing in their famous way: on their hind paws leaning on the tail.
So, if you have always dreamt about a pet who will be graceful as a cat, spontaneous and unusual-looking like bassets with groundhog’s funny habits, in this case a midget cat is just for you.
History of the breed
Strange cats with short paws were first mentioned in early 30-th of XX century. The species were placed on record in Great Britain.
Also it was said that English “short paws” had been exported into Europe. After that for 10 years before World War II the posterity of these unusual cats could be seen from time to time. Later, in 1954 the breed was found in USSR: in the archives of cat clubs there was information about so called “Stalingrad kangaroo-cat ”.
Researches say that it is munchkin cat that was mentioned in these archives. The cat’s famous posture on hind paws and the fact that its fore limbs are a bit shorter than its hind ones – all these points were written in the archives and be considered as evidences.
However, officially the history of breed origins from the one-and-only cat Blackberry which was taken from the street by a music teacher Sandra Hochenedel.
So, Rayville city, Louisiana state, USA is considered to be munchkin “motherland”. The woman sheltered the short pawed she-cat, raised her and then a cat from the neighborhood became her match.
Their first offspring had the same mutation signs. One of the kittens named Toulouse Sandra gave to her friend Kay LaFrance from the neighboring city.
But, it was Monroe, Louisiana where the breed became famous: since Mrs. LaFrance’s cat turned out to be a very affectionate gentlemen.
Very soon owners of unusual-looking cats turned to a famous doctor Solveig Pflueger (a Chairperson of the Genetics Committee in The International Cat Association (TICA) ) to get some comments as for their pets.
She carried out some research and made a life-changing discovery: short pawed cats appeared due to spontaneous mutation and not as a result of some breeding experiments as the majority of people thought at that time. Sadly, when the news spread it didn’t go without scandals and loud negative statements.
During the period when the breed was gaining acceptance for about 10 years owners and breeders had to defend violently not only the right of their short pawed pets on official acknowledgement, but even their right to live!
On all sides they were attacked by animal rights activists and representatives of phelinological organizations who blamed the owners for “inhuman experiments” that lead to the appearance of “animals with vulnerable paws, femora and backbone” and they called cute and small cats “ugly monsters”.
Meanwhile, the “monsters” gained the sympathy of ordinary Americans incredibly fast: people liked their unusual appearance, easy and rosy disposition. Over and over again the short pawed pets were compared with munchkins – the fairytale little people from a children book by Lyman Frank Baum.
In 1991 The International Cat Association (TICA) declined a request of breeders to give an official acknowledgement to “munchkin” cats.
Experts said that it hadn’t been enough reasons to consider short pawed species a breed. But really the question was more about politics.
After long struggle on May,1 1995 breed was acknowledged by TICA. This happy event was followed by rather roaring and ill-favoured quit of Katherine Crawford from the position of TICA judge.
Mrs. Crawford stated that acknowledgement of this breed was an absurd thing to do and each breeder who follows ethical principles has to take even the fact of cats existence as a personal affront. Only time has been able to reconcile opponents and adherents of this breed acknowledgement.
Firstly, geneticists succeeded to find the gene that causes the mutation and to prove that it was a spontaneous one.
Secondly, critics’ apprehension as for munchkins ill health didn’t turn to be true – all species happily live to be 14-16 years old without any pathological or acquired diseases of spine and limbs.
Thirdly, later in USA there were found 19 cases of such inherent mutation of cats who weren’t even far relatives to the first munchkin cat Blackberry. All these facts prove that munchkin cats appeared due to natural changes and they weren’t artificially breed hybrids.
In Europe midget cats appeared not so long ago – in 2001. The breed slowly, but successfully becomes popular unlike Europe, for example, where nowadays short pawed cats can’t be seen very often, except in some specific cat clubs in France, Switzerland and Netherlands.
However, Japanese worship on these cats – now this breed is the most popular in the land of the rising sun.
Mother nature gave cats not only attractiveness, but also an active mind. They are intelligent and judicious wise animals.
From the early years they can be taught different tricks. Cat breeders recommend to develop kitten’s intelligence with the help of toys-puzzles and games that require high concentration of attention and non-standard approaches.
Practice such lessons at least several times a week, encourage your pet with something tasty and caress and you’ll have not only clever, but also well-behaved cat. Munchkins like watching people around, they can stay in “groundhog’s posture” for hours and watch the view from the window or the scene on TV.
These cats high intelligence can be seen in its full when they have to protect themselves. Calm and careless turns into a brave and cool-headed warrior who despite his small size and short paws very often defeats his enemy.
During the fight his small paws act unpredictably misleading the enemy. Munchkins are peaceful and affectionate animals. These cats and bassets have not only alike physical appearance, but also their loyalty to their owner.
These cats are extraordinary active.
This character surprises inexperienced owners: because it seems impossible to run so fast on such short paws, jump on a closet, chase a ball and participate in friendly fights with dogs almost head-to-head. Surprise! Is a real energizer, who requires a lot of attention and is ready to play all night and day long.
Besides, cats of this kind are not aggressive and they are very patient. They can easily get along with kids including all the games they like playing with pets.
The most amazing munchkin cats’ habit is to make collections of different things – everything that is on the floor in the flat goes to their collection kept in some nookery. More often these cats fall for some sparkling, bright stuff.
Their owners confess that sometimes they have to ruin their pet’s collection to get some necessary things back.
Personality is one of the most communicative and even-tempered from all cats. They get along well with people and animals. Strange thing is that munchkin gets on with dogs better, than with other cats. With them munchkin will inevitably compete trying to become a leader, but don’t worry – there will be no fights and injuries.
Short pawed cats are good baby sitters.
They are ok with kids antics and they also gladly participate in them, so when a mother buys such a pet she gets rid of lots of problems – the cat and the baby can play together, while grown-ups are doing their business.
They will never initiate a conflict. However, in case of danger the cat won’t get scared and he will bravely defend himself.
Nevertheless, it’s better to keep the animal far off angry, large dogs: because in such an unequal fight all cat’s unusual abilities won’t help him.
Midget cat are well-behaved, therefore they very seldom have some behavioral problems, not taking into account their desire to steal something sparkling. Kittens breeders say that short pawed cats grow older a bit later than species of other breeds.
However, they learn to use litterbox, scratching mat and other basic behavior skills very early – at about the age of 4 weeks. These cats are a prize for active and conscientious owners, since munchkins can be easily trained.
The teaching process should be supported with caress and stimulation, but never with aggression. These creatures trust their owner wholeheartedly, so tough training methods aren’t acceptable.
Walks and physical loads
That cats are fast, clever and active pets which need to play active games almost all the time. Balls, rods with feathers and complicated labyrinths for cats will do. Cats hate staying at home, because they love walking outside on the green grass, chasing birds.
Therefore, you can put a dog-lead on your cat and take the cat for a walk just like a dog. But before that, be sure to take care of your pet’s safety and vaccinations.
By the way, these cats have some other dog’s habits, so don’t be surprised if this cat brings you the ball in his mouth.
Munchkins like traveling a lot, so the owners often take the cat to the vacation or to the country with them.
Munchkin cat care
These cats are easy in care. Comb them out twice a week and once a week for the short-wooled ones. Timely clean their ears with cotton buds and cut their nails – this is all the care that needs. We recommend to train the kitten to all these procedures from early days, so they will become a habit and they won’t cause stress later.
These cats can’t stand strong smells and it should be taken into account when choosing a shampoo and litterbox filler for them.
Since these cats are very active they need a bit more space, than others. The cats are very careful, but if something fragile stands on their way it’ll suffer. Well-behaved cat will never use furniture to sharpen its nails or to soil somewhere except its litterbox.
When choosing a sleeping basket, a litterbox, bowls for feed for munchkin one should remember about their dwarfism.
Sleeping place should be organized in some nookery where it’s not cold and there’s no draughts. The door to the place where you put cat’s litterbox should be always open, water in the bowl – always fresh, however the bowl with feed should be taken away right after the cat finishes its meal.
Since these can’t are very affectionate and love their owner, it will be very hard for them to stay alone for a long time.
Also it’s not recommended to shut them in the room, if they become too active. If you aren’t ready to stand cat activeness, just don’t take it as a pet and choose come other breed.
Sergey is a founder and author of Meethepet.com. He’s been fond of aquarium husbandry since his early childhood.
His favorite aquariums are biotopes (Amazon River), with Echinodorus and Angelfish. However, through the years he’s had experience of keeping almost all types of freshwater fish and shrimps.