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Unusual Breeds: Munchkin

 by danielle on 27 May 2014 |
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Munchkins are the Dachshunds of the cat world, with short-legs and a long body.

The breed got its start when a music teach from Louisiana, Sandra Hochenedel, found a pair of pregnant cats beneath her car in 1983. She kept one and named her Blackberry. Strangely, half of her kittens were born with unusual short legs.


Sandra gifted one of the kittens to her friend Kay LaFrance. She named him Toulouse and after awhile the two friends began to notice more short-legged cats appearing in the neighborhood all bearing a remarkable resemblance to Toulouse. Toulouse, it seemed, had been busy becoming a father…

Kay and Sandra started to wondering if they might have a new potential breed on their hands and contacted Dr. Solveig Flueger, the chairperson of The International Cat Association’s genetic committee. Dr. Flueger determined the short-legged trait was not connected to spinal problems that appeared in similar breeds such as the Corgi and the Dachshund. A breeding program to create the Munchkin breed began shortly after.


Though Munchkins were only created recently, short-legged cats are not new phenomena. In 1944 a British veterinarian made a report on four generations of cats born with unusually short legs. The family vanished from records during World War II but other short-legged cats were noted in Russia and the U.S. in the 1950s and 1970s. In Russia, such cats were dubbed ‘Stalingrad Kangaroo Cats’.

At the 1991 International Cat Association show held at Madison Square Garden the Munchkin breed was unveiled to the world. The display was not without controversy however.


Critics held that the short-legs were an abnormality that would surely be linked to health problems in the future. One judge resigned over the issue, stating the breed was an affront to breeder ethics.

The breed is divisive amongst cat fanciers to this day. So far, the TICA, The American Association of Cat Enthusiasts, The United Feline Organization, the Southern Africa Cat Council and the Waratah National Cat Alliance accept Munchkins.


Cat registries such as the Federation International Feline, The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy and Cat Fanciers’ Association do not approve of the breed however.

Munchkin lovers maintain the short legs in no way interfere with the cat breed’s health and they are playful, sweet-natured pets. They are held to be healthy breed with their running and leaping abilities not at all affected by their leg length. 



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