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The Munchkin

Munchkin Kitten

Thought of by many as the Dachshund or Welsh Corgi of the feline world, the Munchkin is a sprightly cat in a small package. Highly sought after for their frisky personalities as much as their unique appearance, this relatively new breed to the purebred cat world is gaining in popularity by leaps and bounds.

A Brief History of the Munchkin Breed

The Munchkin breed is naturally occurring, actively being developed by breeders, but not engineered by them. A similar gene to the one that results in the short legs of the Dachshund, the Corgi and the Basset Hound causes the small stature of the Munchkin. A parent breed to the Napoleon, the Munchkin is the feline forbearer to the short-legged breeds becoming so popular.

While the Munchkin is a fairly new breed by cat fancier standards, the first Munchkins were around as early as the 1930s. A Munchkin sighted in Stalingrad, Russia, in 1953, was dubbed the “Stalingrad Kangaroo Cat,” since at the time it was seen, it was standing on its hind legs, short forelegs in the air, just like a little kangaroo. The Munchkin again disappeared for several years, only to turn up again, thirty years later, in Louisiana.

Chocolate Tortie Munchkin cat

A woman by the name of Sandra Hochenedel discovered a short-legged female cat living beneath a pickup truck near her home in the 1980s. The pregnant cat, named Blackberry by the Hochenedel family, gave birth to several litters of kittens during her time with them. Roughly half of the kittens born in each litter had the distinctive short-legged stature that now characterizes the Munchkin breed. Munchkin owners today can thank the Hochenedels, Blackberry and her kittens for the revival of this incredible breed.

Physical Characteristics of a Munchkin

A true Munchkin, aside from having short legs, possesses a thick body type, similar to the Persian, with a well-rounded chest. Munchkins are considered medium-sized cats, but their size can vary a bit between male and female: males can range from about 6 to 8 pounds and females usually weigh in a little less at 4 to 8 pounds.

Munchkins can be found in many different colors. Their coats are thick and silky. Both shorthaired and longhaired Munchkins have plush, strokable fur, but the longhaired Munchkin also has a pretty, plumed tail. Their eyes are large and round and can be found in several colors, from gold to vivid blue.

Tortie Kitten

Because nothing in genetics is ever certain, long-legged kittens are regularly born to Munchkin mothers. Most Munchkin litters consist of both short- and long-legged kittens. Like their fellow long-legged friends, the non-standard Napoleon, long-legged Munchkins have the same prized personalities as their short-legged counterparts.

Personality Description of a Munchkin

Munchkins are feisty, adventurous, intelligent and affectionate, all at the same time. For a cat of such small stature, their personalities are almost too big for their little bodies! It’s not uncommon to see a Munchkin sit up on its hind legs, just like the “Stalingrad Kangaroo Cat” of old.

Munchkins are nearly similar to ferrets in their high-energy playfulness. They love to run, stalk, chase and play with toys. Their intelligence becomes apparent when you watch them devise a way up onto a countertop: not just a straight jump, but possibly from a chair, to a table, and a final short leap to the counter. Oddly enough, other Munchkin owners have reported that Munchkins are surprisingly easy to train to a harness and leash – they seem to love taking their owners for walks!

This high-spirited, confident feline, whether long-legged or short-legged, can be taught to obey voice commands and even fetch. Because of their sociable, people-loving nature, you’ll find that they get along well with children, adults, and even other critters you might have in your home. Munchkins, retaining their kitten-like personalities throughout their lives, make a welcome addition to any family.

Caring for your Munchkin

Munchkins are generally sturdy and blooming with good health. They possess none of the spinal issues that occur in some dogs exhibiting the similar short-leg gene. Studies are still being conducted on the likelihood of problems with the joints in their little legs, but as of yet, it appears that their legs are just as healthy as those of a cat of regular size.

Munchkins require only the same quality of care that you would give any pet. Feed your Munchkin a balanced, healthy diet, and take him or her to regular veterinarian checkups. Making sure that your Munchkin has plenty of exercise won’t be a problem, as they are so naturally playful and energetic. Provide a variety of toys and your Munchkin should take care of the rest!

As with any feline, a grooming routine should be established early. While your Munchkin is still young, get him or her used to being brushed daily and bathed occasionally. Nail trimmings are also easier when your kitten is acclimated to them early on. Longhaired Munchkins require a little extra care with their coats and a good run-through with a comb or brush every day will go a long way toward keeping them snarl free. Shorthaired Munchkins should be groomed as well, but require brushing only a couple of times per week.

Munchkins are easy to love and easy to care for. With proper care and lots of love, your Munchkin will reward you with affection and boundless enthusiasm. Whether long-legged or short-legged, Munchkins are beautiful pets with incredible personalities and intelligence to spare.

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