The Munchkin cat also known as the Sausage cat or Midget cat features very short legs, as a result of a genetic mutation.
However, there are many other short-legged cat breeds, that can run and climb exactly like a cat with normal leg size.
The Munchkin Cat
The Munchkin cat is a pretty new breed of cat that was recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA) only in 1995.
Short history of the breed
Starting with the 1940’s, short-legged cats have been reported around the world, and in 1944, a British veterinary reported four generations of healthy short-legged cats that acted exactly like cats with normal leg size.
During the Second World War there were no reports about these cats, but in 1956, Russia was the country were short-legged cats were spotted, and later in the 1970s, the U.S. was the country with reports about short-legged cats.
In 1983, a music teacher from Rayville, Louisiana (Sandra Hochenedel) found two pregnant cats hidden under a pickup truck after being chased by a dog.
Hochenedel decided to keep one of the cats and named her Blackberry.
Blackberry gave birth to several kittens, and half of them were born short-legged.
Hochenedel gave a short-legged male kitten from the Blackberry litter to one of her friends called Kay LaFrance of Monroe.
LaFrance named the kitten Toulouse, and the today’s Munchkin cat breed descend from Blackberry and Toulouse.
Toulouse being an un-neutered cat with outdoor access, it was able to create in only a couple of years, an entire population of stray short-legged cats.
Considering that they might have a new cat breed, Hochenedel and LaFrance a show judge, chairperson of The International Cat Association’s (TICA) genetics committee and advisor to the Board of Directors, on his name Dr. Solveig Pflueger.
Dr. Pflueger along with Dr. David Bille (Head of Radiology at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University) conducted several studies on these cats and determined that the short-legged cats did not appear to have any spinal issues associated with those found in short-legged dog breeds such as the Corgi and Dachshund, and all this due to the fact that the short-legged trait has an autosomal dominant mode of inheritance.
In genetics, the autosomal dominant mode of inheritance refers to the phenomenon of one variant of a gene on a chromosome (responsible for the short-legged trait) is able to mask or override the different variant of the same gene on the other copy of the chromosome.
The first variant is called dominant gene, while the second variant is called recessive gene.
The International Cat Association (TICA), decided to introduce the Munchkin cat (the new breed) to the public during a show held in 1991 in Madison Square Garden.
Critics predicted that the breed will not be a stable one because over time, these cats will develop back, hip and leg problems, similar to those in other breeds (Dachshunds).
TICA accepted the Munchkin in its New Breed development program only in September 1994, when it was proposed as a new breed by the foundation breeders Laurie Bobskill and Robert Bobskill from Massachusetts.
The Munchkin cat is a medium-bodied cat with a coat that comes in a variety of colors.
There are short-coated Munchkins, but also Munchkins with silky long coats.
This cat breed is known for its short legs that come in three different sizes: standard, super short and rug hugger.
Munchkins can suffer from some genetic issues such as lordosis (a dip in the spine in front of the shoulder blades), which can constrict the trachea, heart and lungs.
Being active and outgoing cats, the Munchkins get along with everyone in the family including the children and other pets.
When bred responsibly, the Munchkin is an adorable and playful cat that can fit in any family and requires only moderate grooming.
Don’t worry about its short legs, a Munchkin can run as fast as a ferret.
Other Short-Legged Cat Breeds
There many other short-legged cat breeds available today, and this is their list:
1. Skookum Cat
Being called the Shirley Temple of the cat world due to their sweet temperament, short legs and curly hair, the Skookum cat is considered an experimental hybrid between the cute Dwarf Munchkin Cat and the Curly La Perm cat.
female Skookum cats weigh between 3 and 5 pounds, and the males between 5 and 7 pounds, which is about half the size of a normal adult cat.
The curly coat of this mini cat varies in color and patterns, and the front legs are shorter than the back ones.
The Skookum tail is also unique being long and plumed with a rounded tip that looks like a pom pom.
Overall, the Skookum cat is a very intelligent, healthy and happy cat.
These cats love to be brushed (twice a week is enough), and due to their curly hair, you need to be very gentle when your brush them.
They are affectionate, playful and smart, which means that they fit perfectly in a family with children.
2. Napoleon Cat
Napoleon Cat or the Minuet Cat is a short, cute and sweet cat that received its name after the famous French statesman and military leader Napoleon Bonaparte, which suffered from ailurophobia (fear of cats).
This cat breed was created pretty recently by breeder Jim Smith by crossing a Munchkin Cat with a long-haired Persian Cat.
The Napoleon is defined after its dwarf stature and a fully round face with round eyes set moderately apart.
This cat has a straight broad nose and a long-haired or short plush coat, that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
The Napoleon Cat or the Minuet Cat has few health problems, but they can be prone to polycystic kidney disease (a health issue inherited from the Persian cat).
This is the reason why as a breeder of Napoleon Cats, you should always choose the breeding pair from cats that are free from that disease, to avoid passing it on to the next generation.
These cats require moderate grooming (short-haired ones a week, and long-haired twice a week).
The Napoleon Cat is perfect for a family with children because is a playful cat with few health problems that will quickly conquer your heart.
3. Minskin Cat
You want a mini cat? then get a Minskin because this unique and very cute cat is something rare.
With its big eyes and ET-like ears, the Minskin cat looks like a cat from another planet.
The Minskin breed was obtained by combining a Munchkin with a Sphynx, with a little touch from a Devon Rex and a Burmese.
Its short legs come from the Munchkin, but this cat has three different coat standards: hairless, fully coated or hair points, which means that it has hair only on its feet, tail and ears.
The tail of the Minskin cat is longer than its body, and this is how you can easily recognize the breed.
This kitty is pretty healthy with no serious health problems, and even of they have little hair or they are fully coated, they need grooming.
Hairless cats need a bath every week to keep their skin clean and oil free.
The Minskin cat is a great kitty for families with children because they get along very well with kids and other pets.
4. Lambkin Cat
The Lambkin is a tiny, very soft and pretty rare breed of cat, and if you have seen one in your life you can consider yourself lucky.
The Lambkin Cat, also known as nanus rex is such a new breed that is still considered as an experimental breed cat, maybe this would be the reason why the breed is not recognized by some cat associations.
Being a cross between a Selkirk Rex and a Munchkin, the Lambkin is dwarf breed of cat with a strong personality.
The name Lambkin comes from their plush curly coat that looks more like wool (is a like tiny cat in sheep clothing).
A long, curved and fluffy tail that tapers around the tip is another feature of this breed.
A Lambkin cat can be easily recognized after its short legs and long body which was inherited from the Munchkin cat.
If you’re considering adopting a Lambkin cat, don’t forget that these cats are hard to find, always try to find a reputable breeder because even if these cats are generally healthy, being a dwarf breed they maybe prone to genetic problems such as curvy spines, chest that is not properly formed.
A reputable breeder will avoid inbreeding, which will remove the possibility to get a kitty with health problems.
This cat has a curly coat, and this means that you need to brush it every other day.
Even if the Lambkin is a cat that needs brushing and grooming every other day, if you get the cat from a reputable breeder you will avoid the health problems specific to dwarf cats, and this tiny ball of wool will become your lovely friend.
5. Dwelf Cat
This cat is super cute, but also pretty scary because it looks more like a cat from Mars.
The name “Dwelf” comes from its dwarf stature and elf like features created by the mix between a Munchkin, American Curl and a Sphynx cat.
The most prominent feature of the breed is provided by the Sphynx (its hairless cat), even if the Dwelf cat is not entirely hairless.
They got something like peach fuzz on them, so they’re not entirely hairless.
Another specific feature of the breed is the curly ears (another feature that makes them look like an elf).
Like all dwarf cats, the Dwelf has short front legs and the behind legs are longer.
Being a tiny cat, an adult Dwelf weighs only about 4 pounds.
If you want to adopt a Dwelf cat always search a reputable breeder because being a dwarf cat, this is the only way to avoid getting an animal with health issues related to the breed.
A responsible breeder will always choose the breeding pair only after screening them for any known health issues.
When breeding these tiny cats it is very important to consider first the health of the breeding pair, and if you get kittens with health issues, you should stop breeding that pair in the future.
When choosing a Dwelf kitten you need to know that these cats are generally healthy, but they could have some skeletal problems (lordosis – a curvature of the spine, pectus excavatum – leads to heart and breathing issues, etc.)
Because they don’t have fur, you should keep them inside, and you need to bath them weekly to keep their sckin clean and oil free.
The Dwelf cat is a playful cat that could act like a dog, it could have spinal issues, needs to be kept inside because the Sun could burn their unprotected skin, but in general is a great pet for a family with or without children.
6. Kinkalow Cat
This is a pretty rare cat breed obtained by mixing the American Curl cat with a Munchkin cat.
From the Munchkin, the new breed inherited the short legs and from the American Curl the curly ears.
When reaching adulthood, this cat weighs between 3 and 7 pounds, and being a playful cat that enjoys toys, is a great companion of families with children.
7. Bambino Cat
This is a hairless cat with tiny legs that is very playful and acts more like a monkey.
Bambino cats are known for running, jumping and climbing with ease, which makes them extremely mobile inside the house.
This cat breed has a loose hairless skin that is very thin and flexible, and needs to be protected from sunlight to avoid sunburns.
The breed was created by crossing hairless Sphynx cats with Munchkin cats.
A distinctive feature of the breed is the lynx-tipped ears and their wrinkled skin that could be hairless or have a faint fuzzy down.
When you touch a Bambino cat you will feel like touching a warm peach.
If you decide to adopt a Bambino cat, you should know that this cat breed has few health issues, their skin needs to be protected from the sunlight, so you should keep the cat only indoors.
These cats have no coat, so you need to wash them with a mild soap and water regularly.
Being a very affectionate cat, the Bambino could be a great pet for families with children, or for young couples.