Munchkin cat breed information and advice

The Munchkin cat is a distinctive-looking cat due to its short legs and a long spine - the Dachshund of the feline world. Named after the Wizard of Oz characters, their short legs are the result of a genetic mutation. While dwarfism can occur naturally in cats, Munchkins have been bred specifically to look like this. This makes the breed somewhat controversial. But their short legs don’t hold them back, these cats are energetic and playful. Munchkins make entertaining pets for most households including those with other cats and cat-friendly dogs. So, if you’re looking for a cute kitty short in stature, a Munchkin could be the cat for you.

Munchkin cat facts

Lifespan 12-15 years
How much £200+
Size small to medium
Weight Weight - 3-4 kg (male); 2-3.6 kg (female)
Grooming minimal
Temperament affectionate, outgoing and intelligent
Exercise medium to high



Munchkin cat insurance

The Munchkin is generally a healthy cat breed. But since they are a new breed, not much is known about their long-term health. No matter how healthy the breed may be, it’s still important to protect your Munchkin with cat insurance. Having the right pet insurance in place for your Munchkin will help cover the cost of vet bills for surgery, medication and any ongoing expenses.

Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance

With Sainsbury’s Bank, you can take out a pet insurance policy for your Munchkin cat or kitten from 8 weeks old up to their 10th birthday. As long as you continue to renew your policy without a break, our cat insurance helps to give you peace of mind and also helps to protect your pet

How to care for a Munchkin cat

Munchkins cats are low maintenance and easy to care for. And like any cat, to keep them tip top, you should make sure they have a balanced diet and plenty of exercise.

Make sure you provide your Munchkin cat with a nutritious diet. If you buy your kitten from a breeder, they should be able to tell you how often and how much you should feed your cat. Try to feed your Munchkin the same cat food and at the same time every day. You can also ask your vet which cat food they recommend, and how much to feed your pet.

Munchkins can be short-haired or long-haired. The short-hair variety is medium-plush while the long-haired variety is semi-long and silky. Their coat can come in all colours and patterns including grey, ginger, white, tabby, and black and white.

Their grooming needs are minimal - short-haired cats just need a brush or comb once a week. You could also use a grooming glove if your cat doesn’t like being brushed or combed. Long-haired Munchkins will need to be groomed more frequently to keep their coats mat-free. If they get very dirty, you can give them a bath using a special shampoo.

It’s a good idea to invest in a scratching post to help keep their claws in good condition.

Despite their short legs, Munchkins can run fast, climb and jump (although not as high as other cats) and they enjoy playtime as much as the next cat. As they have a high prey drive, they’ll especially love laser pointers, feathers, and catnip mouse toys. Play is one of the best ways for your Munchkin to exercise and for you to have fun with them.

Munchkins are best suited as an indoor cat, but they will enjoy access to a safe, secure outdoor space to go exploring.

Munchkins are intelligent cats and can be trained easily and taught the odd trick or two. They’ll enjoy interactive play and puzzle toys. Toilet or litter training will be picked up quickly.



Temperament and behaviour

Being sociable cats, Munchkins do enjoy company, though their personalities can vary like any other cat. Once you’ve spent some time with your Munchkin, you’ll get to know their personality and some of their interesting quirks. Did you know some Munchkins move like ferrets and can stand on their hind-legs like rabbits so that they can get a better view of what’s going on? In fact, their hind-legs may be slightly longer than their front legs. They’re known to like to collect shiny objects too.

And after that, they’ll enjoy curling up on your lap for a nap.

Common health problems

As this breed is still relatively new, more research is needed before possible health issues can be completely ruled out. However, two conditions have be seen - lordosis and pectus excavatum. They can also be affected by other common conditions seen in all cats such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism and kidney problems. Taking out cat insurance cover for your Munchkin will make sure that any unexpected health costs are covered.

Lordosis is an excessive curvature of the spine. This can lead to compression of the heart and lungs in severe cases. The condition can range from being very mild to severe.

Pectus excavatum (also called funnel chest) is a malformation of the chest. This can result in breathing difficulties and is usually apparent when the kitten is around 10 days old. If the condition is mild, no treatment may be required. For more severely affected cats, surgery and the application of a splint to the ribcage may be needed.



How big are Munchkin cats?

Munchkins are small to medium in size. They have short legs with round, compact feet which all point straight forward. Males are generally larger than females. Munchkins range between 15-23 cm tall (an average a normal cat is around 25 cm).

How much is a Munchkin cat?

Munchkins can be expensive and their breeding will be a factor. A well-bred Munchkin kitten can cost upwards of £200. And depending on the parents, can be well over £1000. With any pet, it’s recommended to get your Munchkin from a reputable breeder.

How long do Maine Coon cats live?

The lifespan of a Maine Coon cat is generally between 9 and 15 years. Food and nutrition, exercise and good health care will all affect the lifespan of your cat.

What are the origins of Munchkins?

The Munchkin originated in Louisiana, USA in 1983. The breed was developed from random-bred cats with an autosomal dominant form of dwarfism that affects only the long bones. This causes shortened legs typical of the breed. Munchkin litters are often smaller than the average cat litters, possibly due to embryos that have inherited two copies of the gene dying. As a result, most Munchkins are bred with normal cats. The resulting kittens have an equal chance of inheriting the gene that gives them shortened legs.

Many people consider breeding cats with a physical deformity such as shortened legs unethical. Although recognised by The International Cat Association (TICA), the breed is not recognised by many cat registries.

So, is a Munchkin cat right for you?

Munchkins make great companions for households who can give them lots of attention, as they don’t like to be left alone all day. They’re suited to families with older children, other cats, and cat-friendly dogs. They might need time to become accustomed to families with younger children. It’s always recommended that young children are supervised around pets. Munchkins may be unusual to look at and their short legs controversial, but these short and sweet cats make delightful pets.

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Content provided from Vetstream's Vetlexicon Felis - www.vetstream.com/treat/felis

Leslie A Lyons, Vetstream Ltd (online) Munchkin. In: Vetlexicon Felis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: https://vetstream.com/treat/felis/freeform/munchkin.

David Godfrey, Geert Verhoeven (online) Flat-chested kitten and pectus excavatum. In: Vetlexicon Felis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: https://vetstream.com/treat/felis/diseases/flat-chested-kitten-and-pectus-excavatum.