The Munchkin cat is an adorable medium-size cat with a jowl-length black body, diamond-shaped emerald eyes and small, triangular ears. Due to a genetic mutation, it has shorter and stubby limbs; the distinctive trait which makes the Munchkin so unique. The Munchkin, though, is not in any way disabled by its short legs and doesn’t even have regularly-shaped forelegs. Instead, the legs grow inwards to accommodate the long tail. Because of its unusual appearance, the Munchkin has been nicknamed the “pet rock star”.
Believed to be originated from Germany, the name “munchkin” comes from the German verb “mung” (not munch) and the Greek word for bread, “akleon.” Originating as a toy for children in kindergarten, the munchkin cat was soon adopted by music teachers in North America who found the cute little feline to be entertaining and suitable for their classes. The name was later on adopted by breeders and this small cat was made available commercially. Today, there are many different types of munchkin cats: black, silver, tan, blue, pink, and red.
The distinguishing features of the munchkin cat are its short legs. While its body is comparatively long in proportion to its height, its short legs prevent it from over-extending itself when jumping. In addition, the short legs prevent the animal from “kicking off its own leg” which is a common fault in cats with autosomal dominant gene abnormalities, which cause shortened legs. The short legs of the munchkin cat are also characteristic of “x-linked” felines, where only the female has long bones, unlike the male wherein both the legs of the cat are long.
One more distinctive characteristic of the munchkin cat besides its short legs is that it lacks the collar-like marking on its neck and head. Munchkins do not have any dorsal line or other marking on their head. Although originally these cats were bred to be used in bear baiting, their meat intake has changed since then. These obligate carnivores now mainly eat rodents, rabbits, and birds. Munchkins can be quite territorial as they have a natural instinct to mark their territories. They will often display this instinct by scratching and marking their territory with urine and feces.
As with other naturally occurring puggles, these cats are prone to ear mites, which lead to the owners having to visit the veterinarian more frequently. Though most owners do not notice any serious health problems with their cats, occasionally the munchkin cat could have an ear infection brought about by the build up of ear mites. There is also a high possibility for a distemper infection brought about by a virus carried by carrier birds within the house, or by humans.
There are many theories on the origin of the munchkin cat. Some believe that it is a relatively new breed developed as a result of crossing an Asian Leopard Cat with an American Short Hair Cat, with the former cats having relatively short legs compared to the latter. And still others believe that the cat was developed during the 1800s when a breed of cats, mostly originated in England and were bred to create different types of domestic animals such as cats and dogs. Whatever the case, the munchkin cat has become quite a popular pet.