A black and white Munchkin cat.
A black and white Munchkin cat. Photography by Tetsu Yamazaki.

11 Things to Know About the Munchkin Cat

There’s more to this short-legged cat than his small stature. Find out the controversies surrounding the Munchkin cat and how this breed came to be.
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Have you met the Munchkin cat? His Dachshund-like silhouette, triangle-shaped ears and large eyes have captured the hearts of cat lovers across the nation. And, not to mention, has caused a bit of controversy in the feline world.

1. A Munchkin cat is short and sweet

A gray Munchkin cat.
A gray Munchkin cat. Photography by Tetsu Yamazaki.

The Munchkin cat is a medium-sized kitty who resembles many other felines except for one very unmissable trait: short, stubby legs that conjure up visions of Welsh Corgis and Dachshunds. As with any odd trait, the Munchkin’s short legs are the result of a genetic mutation.

2. This short-legged cat is controversial

Here’s where the controversy comes in. While The International Cat Association began recognizing the Munchkin cat in 1995, it’s the only cat organization to do so. Some believe that the breeding of Munchkins is unethical because it encourages the breeding of physical deformities; therefore, the Munchkin cat is still unrecognized by the Cat Fanciers’ Association and American Cat Fanciers Association.

3. The Munchkin cat gets a clean bill of health

Experts have weighed in on the issue and given the Munchkin cat a clean bill of health: Aside from their short and stout legs, caused by an autosomal dominant gene that results in long bones in a cat’s legs growing shorter, they’re no different than your average housecat.

4. How this short-legged cat came to be

This brings us to the next controversy: the Munchkin’s origins. Though short-legged cats (not necessarily Munchkins) were spotted as early as the 1930s, today’s Munchkin cat is the result of an accidental 1983 finding in Louisiana, where a music teacher named Sandra Hochenedel rescued two Munchkins from a Bulldog, only to learn that they were both pregnant.

She kept one — a little lady named Blackberry — and when her kittens were born, she gifted one to her friend Kay LaFrance, who worked with Solveig Pflueger, TICA’s Genetics Committee chairperson, to discover more about the breed and make it recognized by the world.

5. Yes, the Munchkin name actually has to do with The Wizard of Oz

Does the name Munchkin cat have anything to do with The Wizard of Oz? Yep! Kay LaFrance established a colony of Munchkins on her Louisiana plantation. As the cats reproduced, the town was full of them — resembling the munchkins from L. Frank Baum’s writings.

6. A Munchkin cat has a short jump

Munchkins can jump but only to an extent. Will a Munchkin cat make it onto your bedroom bookcase? Not likely. But they’re capable of making it onto kitchen counters when they feel the urge.

7. He may have short legs, but he’s actually fast and furious

The Munchkin’s real strength is speed. They have an insane amount of energy and a knack for speed and agility, taking corners like a furry race car and staying low to the ground to get the most traction.

8. The Munchkin cat is known for his hoarding tendencies

You know how magpies like to beg, borrow and steal small, shiny objects, squirreling them away for a rainy day? Well, Munchkin cats do, too! In fact, some refer to Munchkins as magpies due to this quirky characteristic.

9. This short-legged cat is kind of like a bunny….

Munchkins are frequently found sitting up on their hind legs like a rabbit in order to get a better glimpse of something that has caught their eye.

10. He loves cuddling

The Munchkin cat craves company: kids, dogs, other animals, complete strangers — there’s never enough! They live for a game of chase or a catnip mouse prime for hunting but will never turn down the offering of a warm lap for cuddling.

11. A Munchkin cat is especially curious

If you thought the typical cat breed was curious, the Munchkin cat is curious on a whole different level. He can, and will, explore every nook, corner and cranny of your abode more than once — and likely pilfer a pretty something each and every time!

Thumbnail: Photography by Tetsu Yamazaki.

This piece was originally published in 2017.

Editor’s note: This article appeared in Catster magazine. Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Catster magazine delivered straight to you

About the author

Erika Sorocco has been writing about cats for 12 years. She currently shares her home with two finicky felines (Minky and Gypsy), one crazy pup (Jake) and not enough closet space. Find her online chatting about beauty, books, fashion and fur babies at cateyesandskinnyjeans.com.

Read more about cat breeds on Catster.com:

25 thoughts on “11 Things to Know About the Munchkin Cat”

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  4. Miss christina Martinez

    I have a question.my cat looks like a light brown tabby cat. She is very affectionate & smart.she follows me every where.what breed.of cat might she be ???

    1. BobTailMunchkin

      Well your cat might be a mix breed or if she is a purebreed so look up cat breeds and compare looks, like head shape, body shape ect. That is how we figured out one of our cats was part siamese. :) Also your vet might be able help you figure out what she is.

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    1. I actually just read another article that explains how that happened. Both normal sized cats were carriers of the munchkin gene and therefore produced normal and munchkin babies…

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  12. How long does munchkin cats live? I have a beautiful black munchkin. Who’s now 18 yrs. I just curious how long does the bred live for.

    1. Hi Violet,
      Thanks for reaching out! Here’s more info on munchkin cats + how long cats live:
      https://www.catster.com/cats-101/about-the-munchkin-cat
      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/how-long-do-cats-live-cat-health-facts
      https://www.catster.com/cats-101/calculate-cat-age-in-cat-years
      https://www.catster.com/cat-health-care/increase-cat-life-expectancy
      https://www.catster.com/cat-health-care/average-lifespan-of-a-cat

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  14. Genuine question, where are you getting this whole entire ‘experts weigh in’ type of stuff. I don’t see any links or sources to find this information, nor is any of the experts actually accredited. I’m seeing a lot of contrary statements with Munchkin cats health, and no good solid resource has been linked. I really wanna know the truth.

        1. Thanks for reaching out! As per the author:

          For this particular piece, I used the following sites for research:

          – TICA
          – Catster
          – VetStreet
          – PetMD

          For reference, the Munchkin is a breed that is highly controversial (perhaps the most controversial in existence) – with many referring to breeders who work with munchkins as unethical. In regards to the commenters inquiry regarding health problems: there is no confirmation as to whether or not health problems are specific to Munchkins. I looked into this during my research, and found that some Munchkins are afflicted with pectus excavatum and lordosis; however, many other cat breeds suffer from these two problems as well, making them health problems that are not breed specific.

          1. Those are websites though, not sited material. That’s like saying your source is “google”.

            She’s looking for the reference to an actual author/article/journal etc.

  15. This has every resource you need to know for cats. Thank you for the wonderful post. I have been searching for Munchkin Cat to read on the topic. I found this a valuable information.

    Cheers,
    Sanny

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