When you first hear about Munchkin Cats, a few things may go through your mind. Which is natural, there are a lot of questions to ask, like how much smaller are they and does this affect them at all, If so, how? Good questions.
In short, Munchkin Cats that possess the short legged gene will stand around 7 or 9 inches tall and weigh around 5 (2.3kg) to 9 (4.1kg) pounds as an adult. This is approx. 3 inches shorter than a ‘regular’ cat. There are no limits on coat colors or lengths and it does not shorten their lifespan. They are healthy and energetic still. Their short legs produce an amazing cornering speed but does limit their jump height. Along with all this comes a propensity to sit upright on their haunches.
The Munchkin Cat is considered a small to medium sized cat, ironically enough as most people consider them, rather inaccurately, as ‘dwarf cats’.
The average ‘normal’ cat is up to 25 cm (10 inches tall) at the shoulder with the average Munchkin ranging between 6 to 9 inches tall, depending upon the breed.
A Munchkin Cat is pretty much similar to a normal cat, it just has shorter legs. It’s body is similar proportioned to a ‘normal’ cat, which is why they are most definitely not ‘dwarf cats’.
The ‘headshape’ is the same as any breed of cat, and is completely proportionate with the body. The nose and ears will not be different with the eyes being any typical cat color.
The ‘body and tail’ of a Munchkin Cat will be in the small to medium range as per normal, with only the legs around 3 inches shorter. The tail is specific to the Cross-breed (American Curl, Scottish Fold etc) and the feet are in the same proportion and well formed.
Kittens, the moment they are born have an average weight of around 90 – 95g.
This statistic has quite a percentage range though, as you might imagine.
A Maine Coon, a large domestic cat is born with an average a weight of 115g. A Persian when it is born, is much smaller, averaging around 82g.
Although I have never weighed one specifically, a Munchkin Cat, being shorter legged I would imagine is around 70 – 85g in weight.
Typically, as with normal kittens they double their weight in the first week.
As a Munchkin kitten becomes an adult, it will reach a good adult height around 6 months old and reach its maximum height after around 1 year old.
While I have talked about averages, did you know that a Munchkin Cat can come in 3 different leg lengths, you know, just to complicate matters.
The three designations are perhaps unflatteringly named ‘standard’, ‘super short’ and ‘rug-hugger’.
Standard legged Munchkins being the tallest and rug-hugger being the shortest. There isn;t any real scientific classification, it just tends to be the way people describe them.
However, if a Munchkin Cat does not carry the heterozygous gene then it will be born with normal leg leg length. The kitten must be born with the autosomal gene to have shorter legs. This is called a non-standard Munchkin Cat, and will look like any normal cat.
It’s also difficult to tell which of the lengths a Munchkin kitten will grow into.
The other side of the ‘standard’ moniker are those Munchkin Cats that have inherited the heterozygous gene.
The ‘standard leg length’ Munchkin is still shorter than the normal leg length but can vary from slightly shorter to around 2 to 3 inches shorter. Centimeters can often be the argued distance as to what category to put a munchkin Cat into. Whether it is a Non standard Munchkin or a Standard Munchkin is sometimes open to interpretation and mainly in the eyes of the owner,
These Munchkin Cats most definitely have the heterozygous gene in them and as such are more in the out boundaries range of the 2 to 3 inches shorter.
There are no precise measurements that place a Munchkin Cat in the super-short category, it just seem to be a consensus that has developed.
A super-short Munchkin is what most people think of as a Munchkin Cat when they first hear about them and see them.
These are the Munchkin Cats that are born with the very shortest of legs. Also, unflatteringly referred to as ‘VW Microbus’ these cats definitely carry the heterozygous gene.
These cats are missing a significant portion of leg length and as such, look like they are ‘hugging a rug’ as they move across the ground.
This type of Munchkin Cat is the largest market in the Munchkin Cat breeders world and many people enquire about them. They seem in the highest of demand, and do indeed look cute. Probably not unrelated that.
Although the Munchkin Cat breed is considered small to medium sized, despite natural inclinations, it does not have to be ‘dwarflike’.
Munchkin Cats as an average will around 5 to 10 pounds, the statistics vary, but males will be 6 to 10 pounds and females will around 5 to 8 pounds.
I’ve found this to be true, males are around 15% taller and heavier than females in Munchkin Cats. That’s my rough estimate statistic having owned several, not figures taken from a TICA paper.
As you might expect, a cat with shorter legs cannot jump as high or as far as a cat with normal leg length,
The fact is though, that with these shorter leg length cats it does not affect their quality of life. My Munchkin Cats seem just as happy and content as any other cat I have owned.
As most Munchkin Cats are domestic cats, that is to say they are owned and belong to a household, there is no clear data or guidance on whether their ability to survive in the wild has been compromised.
It dies seem sensible to assume that they may not be able to leap on prey with the same kind of ability but cats hunt in many different manners, from above for example. It may well be that simply altering the hunting behaviour would counter the effects, although to be clear again, no clear data or evidence is so far available. It is pre speculation mostly.
My observations with my Munchkin Cats has shown that the shorter legs do not impede any grooming behaviour. I haven’t owned a rug-hugger though, so would carefully look at this in that particular trait if you do.
The observations by TICA that Munchkin Cats do not experience back or spinal problems as a result of their genes I can anecdotally back up. So far I have not seen any back problems, nor taken them to the vet to clarify a problem in this area.
So far, having bred and raised several Munchkin Cats I would say their growth and development is completely aligned with the average statistics.
That is to say, a Munchkin kitten will reach maturity in the 9 to 12 month region and will slow its rate of growth from 12 months to 18 months. After 18 months or so I have seen no further size development in any of my Munchkin Cats.
A Munchkin, as it has smaller legs and being a new breed has many questions surrounding their nature.
Along with health issues people want to know how it might affect the cats behaviour. In my experience it does not affect the character of the cat. It will not be more grumpy or sad because of a short legged gene.
There are two areas where it does seem to make a difference.
Far from being a disadvantage to a Munchkin, the fact that it’s lower to the ground gives it an amazing cornering speed.
You really should see on of these things bolt around furniture.
Cats are pretty agile anyway, at least they are supposed to be but a Munchkin is much more agile than you might expect.
You might think that because of their shorter legs they simply don’t jump. You’d be wrong though, they do.
They are quite willing to jump when necessary, like any other cat, it’s just that the physical constraints put a limit on the achievements.
No, not at all. You won’t save any money on cat food if you get a Munchkin Cat.
This style of cat will happily put away a lot of food. They are very energetic cats and they will need the calorific intake. It’s important to remember that the body size will be similar to a ‘normal cat’ and thus will need the same amount of food to sustain it.
Again, no. despite being smaller legged, they do not tire faster or slower as a result of the smaller legs. They will quite happily run around and play with the best of them.
They are very energetic, and I have seen no discernable difference between a Munchkin Cat and a ‘normal cat’ in terms of whether they tire faster.
The simple fact is, that activity expenditure will not affect your Munchkin Cat.
This is a key question that people want to know. I think because it helps visualize the effect of shorter legs.
The answer is all my cats don’t. I’m not sure if I should use the word can’t. I’m sure if it needed to leap up there it could, but they don’t seem to.
The way I’d describe it is, my Munchkin Cats will run around and leap on the bed, coffee tables and chairs, but don’t leap on the kitchen surfaces. So things a few feet off the ground will be a target but things above 3ft might be safer.
No, not all.
It’s perhaps natural to ponder whether a Munchkin Cat has problems mentally because of the shorter legged gene.
In my experience they don’t seem to. At least I have seen no outwardly observable behavior that would suggest to me that they are experiencing negative emotions because they have shorter legs.
The fact they don’t jump as far doesn’t seem to effect the cat at all, it just accepts it as a natural ability. I’m not sure any of my Munchkin Cats are jealous of other cats abilities.
It seems to accept the shorter legged gene without any problems at all. An American curl will have the same kind of character as an American Curl Munchkin, all other things being equal.
Rather unsurprisingly, a cat that has a shorter legged gene and has an adaptation of that gene called ‘rug’gugger’, the Munchkin Cat holds the record for the smallest living cat.
A cat named Lilieput (good name), belonging to Christel Young of Napa, California, as of 19th July 2013 took the record and is officially recorded with the Guinness Book of Records.
Lilieput stands 13.34 centimeters (5.25 inches) tall from the ground to the front shoulder.
I think it’s fair to say Lilieput would classify as a rug-hugger.
One thing I have noticed about Munchkin Cats, having owned and bred several is the ability and preference for standing on their back legs unaided.
I can only presume that due to the shorter legs, they occasionally want a slightly higher view of what is going on. Munchkin Cats, also being curious by nature, might additionally prefer to do this.
It happens so often that thought I would mention it.
In essence, the Munchkin Cat is a cat that is well suited to any home environment, it’s size should not matter. It can be an indoor cat and an outdoor cat, they are quite happy with both.
In all other respects they are very similar to any another cat. They don’t have a crisis of character, they don’t eat less or tire easily because of the short legs.
They do however, corner like they are on rails, jump on beds and coffee tables rather than bookshelf and occasionally sit up on their back legs to see what you are doing, being naturally curious.
One thing you might want to be aware of is the propensity from breeders to classify a Munchkin as a rug-hugger as they seem to be the larger market. In the early stages of development of a Munchkin kitten it will be almost impossible to tell.
I mention it just so you will be aware.
Additionally, the only real thing you may have to do is place the cat flap a little lower.
Here’s a video about their size if you are interested;