munchkin kittens at birth

How to Identify a Munchkin Cat

Although only a few people have heard of the breed, the number is growing as it becomes more popular. You can procure a Munchkin from a specific breeder, but increasingly adverts are appearing where the owner is unsure, thus it becomes advantageous to see if there are ways to identify a Munchkin Cat.

In short, there are a few ‘tell-tale’ signs that can give away if your cat has the naturally occuring short leg gene. In isolation, few are absolute, but in conjunction there comes the ever rising possibility that you do possess one if you are unsure. There are a few very unique breed specific traits that Munchkins possess that can be used to clarify the accuracy. The only absolute way to confirm whether you possess a Munchkin Cat is to have its DNA tested. It’s not that expensive and gives you as reliable an answer as is scientifically possible.

If you are a cat lover who would love to adopt a short legged feline friend, identifying the breed of cat to adopt is one of the individual choices you may have to make. Not all adverts are clear.

So perhaps you would like to adopt a lovely Munchkin cat, but how do you tell the cat apart from all other breeds of cats. Issues with the identification of animal breeds arise when the animals share similar physical features.

However, the following distinct characteristics and traits are somewhat unique to the breed and may help you identify your preferred Munchkin.

Unique Short Legs

munchkin kitten at birthThe short legs distinguish this cat breed from any other breed of cat out there … err this will be the first defining characteristic that will help you identify whether what you have is a Munchkin or not.

The cat has extremely short legs unlike any other breed of cat with the legs being an average of three inches shorter than normal. The rear legs are a similar length or slightly longer. The occurrence of short legs is attributed to natural mutation unlike how people think that this feature is due to crossbreeding of different cat species.

The Munchkin has a Normal Body Size Relative to the Legs

Munchkin cats are so adorable with a body which appears to be lengthy as a result of its short legs. The body when compared to other cat breeds, however, is around the size of a medium sized cat.

The head is also proportionate to the body, and not the legs. The gene is specific to leg length so the proportions of the head to the body are same as any regular cat.  Only the legs are shorter.

Notable Unique Physical Characteristics

Their head is round that most people describe it as a modified wedge, at least I find their heads pretty. What I find most attractive is their bright eyes that are large, walnut with a wide set, this might get your attention as well.

To add to its beauty is the uniquely triangular shaped ears which are medium in size and medium neck and tail. Whether you prefer your Munchkin having either short or long hair, you are covered since the breed has both short and long-haired variety.

The Munchkin Cat is a Fast, Agile Cat

You would think that Munchkin cats would be less than agile since they have one of the shortest legs of any cat.

You’d also be very wrong.

Surprisingly they have a lot of energy and my cats run around the house they love climbing and jumping around. Most people who own the cat testify that Munchkin loves the chase as they are almost always after mice, toys and other pets.

Elsa, my latest Munchkin Cat, in particular corners like a housefly.

As if that is not enough your Munchkin will love to sit on their hind legs as they investigate their surroundings making them look like your little bunny friend.

Expect your Munchkin Cat to Shower You with Affection

My Munchkin Cats are very social, friendly and outgoing, and I suspect most Munchkin cat owners will tell you that they are affectionate with people and other pets.

You will notice that your cat loves to wrestle and play with other cats and friendly dogs. They are one of the breeds that yearn for attention and will easily curl up on your laps as you are watching your favourite TV program.

Additionally, they won’t mind being stroked and touched and this will be a perfect moment to bond with your feline friend.

All my Munchkins are very sociable. Wary around people they don’t know but they can quickly become sociable with a bit of reassurance.

Munchkin kitten walking

Their Love for Shiny Objects Makes them Magpies of the Cat Species

Your cat might surprise you by borrowing your shiny belongings as they are found of hooding shiny objects. They, however, keen on noting where they hide the objects as they will later find them making them one of the intelligent cat species.

To avoid trouble you might consider hiding your shiny belongings.

Basically if your cat is stealing your jewelry, it could well be a Munchkin Cat.

There are 7 Recognized Breeds

While the fact that the Munchkin is a relatively new breed on the scene can be a pain in some areas, for identification purposes, this is quite useful.

So far, only a few recognized breeds have been prolific, thus Munchkin Cats will likely have one of the following breeds as a parent.

  • American Curl (The Kinkalow)
  • Scottish Fold (The Scottish Kilt)
  • LaPerm (The Skookum)
  • Sphynx (Bambino and Minskin)
  • Selkirk Rex (The Lambkin)
  • Persian (The Napoleon)
  • Bengal (The Genetta)

 

While not definitive by any means, this could be a significant determining factor. If you suspect your cat is a Munchkin then look for identification from some of the parentage. The American Curl for example has very distinct ears. The Sphynx even more so.

With a Munchkin, this produces a Kinkalow. Thus a very short legged cat, with ears like an American Curl, that has a propensity for sitting on its hind legs and stealing bracelets could reasonably be assumed to be a Kinkalow.

Sits Up on Hind Legs

Munchkin Cat kitten standingI own 3 Munchkin Cats and more than any other breed I have ever owned, the Munchkins love to sit up on their hind legs to look around.

Usually right next to you.

I can only assume it’s something natural to the breed.

They are curious in the extreme and the elevated height gives them a new perspective. Any shorter legged cat that I see sitting on its hind legs, I immediately suspect a Munchkin Cat.

Look for an Intelligent Cat

Look for characteristics of intelligence. Is the cat intelligent? Munchkin Cats are considered one of the most intelligent cat breeds. Their love of shiny items can display intelligence. As can avid curiosity. They love hiding shiny items and will have no problem finding them later when they are playing.

While there are many variabilities in any specific cat, as a breed they are thought to be on the upper band of intelligence. Is the cat cautious when it should be?

PetMD has a good article on intelligence in cats (https://www.petmd.com/cat/behavior/how-smart-your-cat)

What You Can’t Use to Identify a Munchkin Cat.

A Munchkin Cat can be paired with many breeds, even though their a 7 or so recognized derivatives that are preferred and thus bred.

As such, their is simply a bewildering array of coat lengths, patterns and colors that a Munchkin can possess.

Therefore you cannot reliably use identification features such as;

  • Coat length
  • Coat color
  • Coat patterns

How Easy is it to Identify a Kitten?

Most people will sell or advertise a kitten at around 12 weeks old. Luckily the short legged gene is evident in a kitten straight away.

Having successfully bred several Munchkin Cats you can tell right away if the short legged gene is present or not.

The image below show what I mean from the last litter I bred.

munchkin kittens at birth

As you can see, you can tell the legs are shorter. Thus, the signature tell tale sign should be evident at the point of birth really, certainly from 10 days or so.

How to Limit the Need for Identifying a Munchkin Cat

An adage that many hear throughout their lives is ‘an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure’.

Certain options of when and where you choose to obtain a Munchkin Cat will drastically increase the likelihood you will indeed a own a Munchkin Cat. They are more likely to have documented lineage, genetic testing, controlled conditions and authentic procedures to guarantee a Munchkin Cat.

To limit your chance of forever wondering if you have a genuine Munchkin Cat there are a few ideas that might be a good idea to run through.

Pick a reputable breeder who is certified in the breeding of Munchkin Cats; you could begin by checking cat breeding websites such as The International Cat Association (TICA). These sites will locate reputable breeders for you. Choose those which are within your location which you can visit and access their services easily.

Munchkin cat sitting in pots

I would prefer having a breeder near me as I can check in to look at the progress at any time and I guess you do too. I have a list of known Munchkin breeders in the US. With a reputable breeder they will have

Adoption sites: Instead of going for breeders you could choose to adopt a Munchkin from an adoption shelter. Rescue organisations such as Rescue Me! And the Purebred Cat Rescue might be some of the centres you might decide to visit.

Adoption sites also can help you find your Munchkin Cat, among the notable sites to adopt a pet is Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-pet.com. My friends swear that they just had to do a simple search before they found their pets on these sites. Why don’t you try them as they even make it better for you as you can opt to search for pets in your local area? You are looking for good private sellers and professional catteries advertising, not simple one off pages with vague language.

Alternatively, you can talk to your local vet or humane society to help you find a Munchkin cat to adopt. Humane societies are always in touch with information that needs to be adopted, and this could be a chance for you to find your feline friend.

Getting Help Identifying Your Munchkin Cat

If you already have a Munchkin cat, or at least think you do, worry no. You can still ask for expert advice on identifying your cat

No matter how you came across your current pet, I presume, if you are reading this you may have some doubts as to whether it is a true Munchkin Cat.  Maybe even the seller wasn’t sure and has left you wondering.

Here’s a few options to consider to get another opinion.

Gather data: Ask the owner, seller or contact anyone that would know. The seller will have information on the parents, so you might be able to identify the parent. If the known parent is a Munchkin then that’s great.

Post online and on forums: Take some pictures of your Munchkin and do some asking around. Visit facebook groups and online forums. Visit Reddit or Quora and ask some questions. Get others opinion to guide you.

Visit a vet: Although the Munchkin breed is relatively new and many vets don’t deal with them often, some do and can assist you in identification.

The Only Way To Guarantee Identifying a Munchkin Cat

Much like the conviction of criminals, there is a surefire way to prove it. Or at least get as close as humanly possible.

Or should that be felinely possible.

When I have bred Munchkin Cats I’m aware of the lineage so I know I am producing legitimate Munchkin Cats.

Much the same is true from a professional breeder. They will have DNA records and a paper trail to prove lineage of the Munchkin so you can be sure you are acquiring one.

Because some people are unsure however, that has given the market a need to produce DNA testing kits that can authenticate.

Although I have never tried them, the two I am aware of are Basepaws and Labogen (select DNA profile (ISAG))

How does it work? Let me show you.

 

Both profess to give you a DNA profile for identification. You can also screen for known diseases should you choose.

Here’s a video of a lady who has tried the Basepaws DNA test for a Munchkin Cat if you are interested.

 

How accurate are they?

Not being a genetics expert I had to do some searching.

According to DNA Testing Choice it seems a pretty good service to be absolutely sure of your cats DNA. The company gets nearly 5 out of 5 stars, so it should definitely be an option to consider if you really want to know your cats breed with certainty.

Conclusion

I wish you the best of luck in identifying your cat if you are not sure of the breed. You should always feel free to reach out to your nearest vet centre for more information.

Ultimately, does it matter, if you love your cat, but I understand why you might want more information.

There are several ways to tell, most of them are circumstantial, however the short legs and a tendency to sit on the hind legs, does suggest a Munchkin to me.

As indicated though, if you truly want to be sure, the only 100% true way is to have its genetics tested. I’ve not had to use them but if I had any doubts, this is where I would turn. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to perform and ultimately will give you the answer you seek.

Here a helpful video for those of you who prefer visuals:

About the Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.