The Munchkin is not a new mutation. Short-legged cats have been recorded throughout the years and around the globe. In a British veterinary report in 1944, Dr. H E Williams-Jones described four generations of short-legged cats including an 8 year old black female that had extremely healthy life. The report stated that her dam, grand-dam and progeny all were similar and the only difference between them and normal cats were the short legs. This line disappeared during WWII. The trait was also seen in Stalingrad in 1956, in New England in 1970 and Louisiana in the 1980s. In 1983 Sandra Hockenedel found a pregnant short-legged female that became the foundation for the breed we call the Munchkin. Sandra named the cat Blackberry. She gave a male, Toulouse, from one of Blackberry's litters to her friend Kay LaFrance and it is from these two cats that the breed was established using domestic cats as an outcross to ensure a diverse gene pool.
TICA accepted the Munchkin into its New Breed development program in September 1994. The program tracks the pedigrees of cats used to create the new breeds and monitors the breeding statistics as the breed develops under the oversight of the Genetics committee. The breeding data showed that the short legs in the cat followed a dominant pattern of inheritance like that in the Corgi and the Dachshund. After years of development and observation, the Munchkin achieved TICA Championship status effective May 2003.
These sociable cats are extremely playful and love to run, chase an play with toys. They love company including children, dogs and other pets, leading them a merry chase as they zoom by in their games. Munchkins are extremely curious and will sit up on their hind legs like a rabbit to get a better view of something that has caught their attention. These self-assured cats leave no stone unturned or corner unexplored. They may not jump from the floor to the top of the bookcase in a single bound but they will show off their jumping prowess and intelligence as they find a path that takes them there in smaller steps. Once you know them, these lovable little cats capture your heart forever.
Munchkins come in both coat lengths and a veritable painter's palette of colors and patterns. The colors and patterns have been introduced through the outcross program that maintains the breed's genetic diversity. In some cases other breeds have been used to introduce specific features however a Munchkin is a unique breed and should never resemble a miniaturized version of another breed. Shorthaired Munchkins have a medium-plush, all-weather coat whereas the longhairs have semi-long, silky all-weather coat.
They are a small to medium sized cat and weigh between 5 and 9 pounds when fully grown. Other than their short legs, they look just like any normal cat. The short legs are a natural mutation that shortens the long leg bones similar to the one that gives the Corgis and Dachshunds their short stature. However the spine of the cat differs in structure from that of a dog and so the short legs do not result in the spinal problems that sometimes appears in canines. And any concerns about mobility are quickly erased as you watch the Munchkin dashing around and cornering tightly in whatever game they are playing.
Grooming is quick and easy. Shorthair Munchkins should be combed once a week to help remove loose dead hair. Comb the longhaired Munchkins twice a week to remove the dead hair and prevent tangles or mats from forming.
Health Issues Common to Munchkin
All pedigreed cats have some sort of health problem, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Any breeder who claims that her breed has no health or genetic problems is either lying or is not knowledgeable about the breed. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on kittens, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her kittens are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons.
Munchkins are generally healthy and do not appear to have spinal problems, but they are a young breed so this could change. It's always wise to purchase a cat from a breeder who offers a written health guarantee.
Pet Insurance for the Munchkin
Pet insurance for purebred cats costs more than for mixed breed cats. This is because a purebred cat is more likely than a mixed breed cat to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.
Embrace cat insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which purebred cats are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your cat is when he's a healthy kitten. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.