Munchkins at A Glance
Known for their Dachshund-like silhouette, Munchkins may be short in height, but are long on fun. They are available in various colors and both hair lengths. Their cuddly and curious nature has captured the hearts of cat lovers across the world. Find out why and if this breed is right for you and your family.
- Temperament: Affectionate, Curious, Smart
- Height/Weight Range: Medium-sized
Despite popular belief, Munchkins do not remain kitten-sized over their lifetime. Their legs remain short, but the body size is considered average as an adult cat.
- Kittens: 2-3 pounds when ready to leave for new homes at 12-16 weeks
- Adult females: 5-7 pounds
- Adult males: 7-10 pounds
- Colors: Munchkins are available in all colors
- Hair Length: Shorthair and Longhair
- Life Expectancy: 15-18+ years
About the Munchkin
Munchkins are very sociable cats that are extremely spirited and love to run, chase and play with toys. They 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. Once you know them, these lovable little cats capture your heart forever.
While quite active, Munchkins have no problem climbing into bed and snuggling with their owners. They are a good choice for families with children and other pets.
Munchkin cats are highly intelligent. They are curious enough to steal small objects or hunt. They are also very adept at retrieving small objects in games of fetch and can learn to walk on a leash in no time.
Their lower body height allows them to swiftly slide under objects without having to stop and bend down. Munchkins can run very fast, similar to squirrels, and are capable of keeping up with canine companions and children. They may not jump from the floor to the top of a refrigerator 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.
TICA Regions, Clubs & Rescues
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The Munchkin’s coat is easy to groom.
Shorthair Munchkins should be brushed once a week with a fine-tooth comb to remove dead hair.
Longhair Munchkins have an easy-to-manage coat, with no underlying heavy undercoat. They can be combed at home with a wide-tooth comb or pet brush twice a week to remove the dead hair and prevent tangles or mats from forming.
To maintain good hygiene, it is a good idea to occasionally bathe your Munchkin, even though they will clean themselves with their tongues. Specific shampoos are available to accentuate their coat color, however, a bath using a few drops of traditional Dawn dish soap in 8 ounces of water can be used to remove any dirt or grease on the coat.
Keep their nails trimmed, ears cleaned and teeth brushed regularly with a vet-approved pet toothpaste and provide a nice tall scratching pole to help their natural scratching instinct.
Munchkins do not have any particular nutritional needs, other than good, quality, dry kibble. A wet diet is not required; however they enjoy a healthy variety of processed canned food occasionally.
Occasional raw meat will feed their natural instinct as carnivores. Contrary to popular belief, a raw chicken neck is a great source of natural vitamins. Never serve cooked chicken as the cooking process may cause the bones to splinter. Ground meats should be avoided, as Munchkins tend to regurgitate them. However, sliced raw beef and cans of baby food meats in small quantities are a healthy option, but if given in excess can cause diarrhea.
As with all cats, it is important to give your cat fresh, clean water daily. Fresh, clean water is best, so cats don’t hesitate to drink. The water bowl should be placed at least three feet away from any food. Cats’ noses are sensitive and an overwhelming smell of food may cause them to drink less. Due to their short legs, a bowl with low sides is best to avoid spilling or a water fountain to encourage drinking.
Under the oversight of the TICA Genetics Committee, Munchkins are born with a gene that shortens the long bones in the legs. They are essentially a domestic cat on short legs. No other bones are affected, including the spine as is common in dwarf dog breeds. Munchkins are NOT prone to arthritis and do not have trouble walking or moving any more than other breeds as they get older. Many years of research have validated that there are no debilitating genes associated with this breed. A pedigreed Munchkin should not need testing for any breed-related diseases, unless they are a Munchkin hybrid.
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 an extremely healthy life. 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.
TICA accepted the Munchkin into its New Breed development program in September 1994. The program tracks the pedigrees of cats used to create new breeds and monitors the breeding statistics as the breed develops under the oversight of the TICA Genetics committee. After years of development and observation, the Munchkin achieved TICA Championship status effective May 2003.
Did You Know?
How did the breed get its name? The name “Munchkin” derives from writer L. Frank Baum’s diminutive inhabitants of Munchkin City in the 1939 novel The Wizard of Oz.
Lilieput from Napa, CA, holds the world record for smallest living cat. In 2013, The Guinness Book of World Records named Lilieput – a tortoiseshell Munchkin cat from Napa, California – the world’s shortest living cat. The diminutive kitty stands a mere 5.25 inches tall from the bottoms of her paws to the top of her shoulders.
The Munchkin breed arose from a genetic mutation. Like many pedigreed cats, the Munchkin breed arose from a spontaneous genetic mutation. Their short legs are caused by an autosomal dominate gene, which causes the long bones in a cat's legs to develop at a shorter length. A cat only needs one copy of the gene to inherit short legs and to pass the trait along to its kittens.
The Munchkin cat is known for his hoarding tendencies. Much like the Magpie, Munchkin cats will beg, borrow and steal small, shiny objects and stash them away for a rainy day. In fact, some refer to Munchkins as magpies due to this quirky characteristic.
From the Breed Standard
The Munchkin is a short-legged cat. Its distinctive short legs developed from a spontaneous autosomal dominant mutation which has occurred several times in the domestic cat. Munchkins exhibit shortening and may have slight bowing of the long bones. The spine is unaffected and similar in form and flexibility to that seen in other domestic cats. The short legs do not hamper mobility or survival ability. The breed has been established from spontaneously occurring domestic cat lines with augmentation by outcrosses to other domestic cats. Munchkins are outgoing, intelligent, and respond well to being handled. They are accepted in both long and short coat lengths. The Munchkin and the Munchkin Longhair are distinguished only by the appearance of the coat, the shorthair having a medium length plush, resilient all-weather coat and the longhair a semi-long silky all-weather coat.
Click here to read the full TICA Munchkin Breed Standard.