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This Munchkin is MERLIN

The Munchkin is a short legged cat who can look like any typical American domestic cat in terms of color, pattern and coat type. Munchkins are known for their perpetual kitten like cat-ality. They will stand on their hind legs and "pray" or "beg" or just to look around. They are just as agile and quick as other cats, but have a characteristic hoppy gait which tends to make people giggle. Munchkins are extremely friendly and playful and make wonderful pets. Amusingly, they will often baffle a taller animal by running under their legs in the ultimate evasive action.


This contented Munchkin mother is PANSY

Munchkin breed history

There are records of short legged cats going back to 1944 and prior in Europe and Great Britain.  It is thought that the breed disappeared during World War II .  In the 1950's a German scientist described a short legged cat that he had seen in Stalingrad.  His comments indicate a short legged cat with a propensity to sit on it's hind legs, like a prairie dog, but otherwise to move as well as it's siblings and other cats in general. Some people say the Munchkin is  "the daschound" of the cat world.  Actually it is more similar to a Corgi in the dog world.  The Munchkin body is more cobby and better proportioned than that of the daschound.  The Munchkin's short legs are the result of  a naturally occurring dominant gene.

Short legged cats came into the limelight in the 1980's, shortly after a woman named Sandra Hochendel of Louisiana found a black cat under a truck, or so the story goes. That cat, Blackberry had several litters and her offspring are the foundation of most of the Munchkins that are around today.    There have also been Munchkins that have apparently appeared spontaneously in other parts of the country indicating that this is a genetic trait that occurs in the cat world.

Since the short legged trait is naturally occurring and due to a dominant gene not all kittens from even a Munchkin to Munchkin breeding will have short legs.  Colors and coats can vary and be of any length or pattern.  The Munchkin carries it's tail high giving it a proud saunter. The tendency to sit on it's hind legs for a look around or just because seems to have survived with the gene.  In the long haired variety the plume of a tail is a joy to behold.   Body type should be well proportioned.  An appearance of an extremely long body with extremely short legs is not desirable.  The Munchkin tends to keep it's kitten like playful catitude well into adulthood.   Munchkins are friendly and intelligent.  Many have learned to fetch, hide small objects, and love to run and play with much larger cats and dogs.   They are fast runners and will find ways to get to high places even when they can't do it in a single bound.  Actually being low to the ground seems to prove an advantage to them in maneuvering around corners.  The short legs are due to a shortening of the long bones in the legs and does not affect other parts of the skeleton in any way that hampers the cat's health or lifespan.    Much of the credit for the continuance of this breed goes to those who followed Sandra Hochendel .  Chief among those is Dr. Solveig Pflueger, a clinical geneticist, neonatal pathologist  in Mass who is also on the faculty of Tufts University Medical School and one of the founders of TICA and is the head of the Genetics Comm. there..  She and others continue to monitor the long term health of the breed.    


This is PANSY with some of her kittens



All photos and text herein are the property of Beth Fillman except as otherwise noted and cannot be copied or reproduced without prior written permission.