Munchkin


Introduction

Munchkins are very sweet looking small to medium sized cats that boast a ton of energy. They may have short legs, but these little cats have a good turn of speed when they are playing an interactive game with their owners. They are confident, out-going cats that thrive on human company, loving nothing more than to be in a home environment. As such, the Munchkin is best suited to households where one person stays at home when everyone else is out so they always have company.


History

Cats with short legs have been around for quite a while with a report of them having been written by Dr. Williams-Jones in 1944. However, these short-legged cats vanished during the Second World War, but other cats existed in Stalingrad during the fifties. Others were seen in New England during the seventies and in the eighties, cats with short legs were seen in Louisana. With this said, a breeder discovered a short-legged female cat which was to become the foundation for all the Munchkins we see today. The breeder called the cat Blackberry and she gave a male kitten to a friend who then used him to develop the breed which ensured a larger gene pool.

It was not until 1994, that the Munchkin was accepted by TICA into their New Breed development programme and through careful and selective breeding, ensured these charming short-legged cats continued to be bred responsibly. Studies found that the gene that caused cats to have short legs was much the same as the gene responsible for dogs like the Dachshund and the Corgi having short legs. Munchkins were awarded full Championship by TICA in 2003 and other international breed clubs soon followed suit. However, the Munchkin is not yet recognised by the GCCF and not many well-bred kittens become available in the UK every year. As such anyone who wants to share their home with a Munchkin would need to register their interest with breeders for the pleasure of doing so.


Appearance

The Munchkin is just like any other cat with the one very distinct difference being that they boast having short legs. This trait is the result of a spontaneous autosomal dominant mutation. Their legs are slightly bowed, but other than that, the fact their legs are short does not affect a cat's overall health and well-being whatsoever.

Munchkins can either have long or short coats, both of which are acceptable under the TICA breed standard. Their heads are a modified wedge with nice rounded contours being well proportioned in relation to a cat's body. They have well defined, high cheekbones with male cats being a little larger and heavier than their female counterparts. Their ears are nicely in proportion with their heads being broader at the base and slightly rounded at the tips. Longer coated cats have Lynx tips to their ears, but shorter coated cats do not.

They have walnut shaped eyes that are nicely spaced wide apart on a cat's face being set at a bit of an angle towards the base of their ears. Munchkins have a lovely open and alert expression in their eyes which can be any colour and they do not have to match the colour of a cat's coat. Chins are firm and align nicely with a cat's nose. Muzzles are moderately long and boast being nicely contoured and well in proportion with a cat's head. Munchkins can have prominent whisker pads which are acceptable under their breed standard. When seen in profile, cats have a slight stop and their foreheads are flat. Their necks are firm, well-muscled which is especially true of males and slightly less so in their female counterparts.

The Munchkin has a thick body that's quite semi-foreign in appearance. Their backs slope gently upwards from a cat's shoulders to their tails. They have well rounded chests and their hips are firm. Their shoulder blades can be quite angulated and legs are short being set evenly apart when seen from either the back or the front. Their upper and lower legs are equal in length and a cat's back legs can be slightly longer than their front ones. Feet are compact and rounded, being nicely in proportion with a cat's body. Tails are carried high when cats are moving and they taper to a rounded tip.

When it comes to their coat, the Munchkin can either have a medium to short coat which is referred to as MK, or they can have semi-long coats which are called MKL. In shorter coated cats, the hair not as dense being semi-plush and lustrous with a moderate undercoat whereas in long coated cats, the hair is long, flowing and silky having a moderate undercoat. Longer coated cats have a moderate ruff with females having a shaggier coat. Their tails are well plumed and both long and short haired cats boast having extremely weather resistant coats. Cats can be just about any colour which are all acceptable under the TICA breed standard.


Temperament

Like a lot of other breeds, the Munchkin likes a routine and doesn't particularly like it when this changes for any reason. They like to be fed at the same time of the day and don't appreciate it when furniture gets moved around the home which can often stress cats out. With this said, they are energetic, active, intelligent cats that thrive on human contact. They may be short-legged, but a Munchkin can show a fast turn of speed and they can be surprisingly agile when needed. Their cornering skills are quite exceptional which is great fun to watch.

They form extremely strong bonds with their owners which means Munchkins can be quite demanding and they don't particularly like being left on their own for any length of time. As such, they are best suited to families where at least one person stays at home when everyone else is out of the house so they usually have company around. Munchkins love to be involved in everything that goes on in their environment and will happily follow an owner from room to room so they can check up on what they are doing and to be close to them.

Munchkins are very social by nature and love playing interactive games. They enjoy the company of other pets which includes cats and dogs as well as other pets they have grown up with. They also boast being incredibly inquisitive and have been known to sit up on their hind legs much like rabbits so they get a better view of what's going on in their surroundings. Being so intelligent, Munchkins always figure out how they can get to a high vantage point even though they can’t reach them in a single leap thanks to the fact their legs are short.


Intelligence

Munchkins are known to be highly intelligent and learn new things quickly which includes how to reach a higher vantage point so they can look down on the world below and how to open cupboards so they can check out what's inside. They can be taught to do all sorts of tricks which includes playing "fetch the toy", a game they thoroughly enjoy and will happily play for hours. They thrive on being around the people they love and as previously mentioned, they will follow them from room to room just to be with them and being so smart, Munchkins know exactly what to do to get their owner’s attention.


Children and Other Pets

Munchkins with their outgoing, affectionate personalities are the perfect choice for families with children and this includes toddlers. They may have short legs, but they can be surprisingly quick on their feet and therefore know when to get out of the reach of smaller children when they get too boisterous or loud. However, care should be taken when very younger children are around cats and any interaction should always be well supervised by an adult to make sure things stay nice and calm. With this said, children need to be taught how to behave around cats and when it's time to leave them alone.

They also get on well with dogs and other cats especially if they have grown up together in the same household. However, care should be taken when introducing a Munchkin to dogs they don't already know just in case the dog does not get on with their feline counterparts. They are social by nature and have been known to get on with pet birds and small animals, but it's always wiser to keep a close eye on any cat when they are around smaller pets particularly when they first meet each other just to be on the safe side.


Munchkin Health

The average life expectancy of a Munchkin is between 12 and 14 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate, good quality diet to suit their ages.

The Munchkin is known to be a healthy breed as such they do not appear to suffer from spinal issues, but being such a young breed more time is needed to establish whether they are susceptible to inheriting any disorders.


Caring for a Munchkin

As with other breeds, Munchkins need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. On top of this, cats need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives which is especially true of kittens and older cats.


Grooming

Munchkins can either have short, close lying coats or they can have semi-long coats. Shorter coated cats are lower maintenance on the grooming front as they just need to be brushed once a week to keep things tidy whereas longer haired cats need to be brushed more frequently to prevent knots and tangles from forming in their coats. Like other breeds, they tend to shed the most in the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent brushing is usually necessary to keep on top of things bearing in mind that longer haired cats shed that much more than their shorter coated counterparts.

It's also important to check a cat's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax builds up in a cat’s ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure with ear infections. Cats often suffer from ear mites which can be a real problem which is another reason why it's so important to check their ears every week or so.


Energy Levels/Playfulness

Munchkins boast having a ton of energy and they adore playing interactive games which includes activities like "fetch" which they will do for hours if they can. They adore getting as much attention as they can and thrive on being the centre of attention which adds to their endearing, albeit demanding personalities. They love to be able to explore the great outdoors, but cats should only be allowed to roam around outside if it is safe for them to do so. The good news is that Munchkins adapt very well to being kept as indoor cats providing they are given lots of attention and things to do otherwise boredom might set in.

Cats kept also need to have lots of places they can snuggle up for a snooze when the mood takes them because if there is one thing that Munchkins are good at, it's taking a few cat naps thoroughout the day in a favourite, warm and cosy spot.


Feeding

If you get a Munchkin kitten from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same kitten food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a kitten's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.

Older cats are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be given a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature cat several times a day making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements which is especially important as cats get older. It's also essential to keep an eye on a cat's weight because if they start to put on too much, it can have a serious impact on their overall health and wellbeing. Like all other breeds, Munchkins need access to fresh, clean water at all times.


Average Cost to keep/care for a Munchkin

If you are looking to buy a Munchkin, you would need to pay upwards of £200 for a well-bred kitten and you would need to register your interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because not many well-bred kittens become available every year. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Munchkin in northern England would be £15.92 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £25.29 a month (quote as of Februar 2018). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a cat's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.

When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a cat’s life. This would set you back between £15 - £20 a month. On top of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Munchkin and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a cat when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £600 a year.

As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Munchkin would be between £40 to £60 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your cat, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a well-bred kitten.


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