Origin: United States
Colour: All colours
Short-legged American cat discovered in the 1990s. Viewed as a freak by most cat societies. Also referred to as the American Munchkin, the Munchkin Mutant, the Wiener Cat, the Dachshund Cat, the Minikat, or the 'Ferret of the Feline World'.
Domestic Breed: Short-legged American cat discovered in the 1990s. Viewed as a freak by most cat societies. Also referred to as the American Munchkin, the Munchkin Mutant, the Wiener Cat, the Dachshund Cat, the Minikat, or the 'Ferret of the Feline World'. It was named after the 'little people' who appear in The Wizard of Oz.
Appearance: A short-haired cat with a dominant gene for reduced leg-length, the front legs being even shorter than the back legs. The length of the front legs is no more than three inches.
History: This unusual mutant feline is the first short-legged cat to be taken seriously as a breed. It parallels the Dachshund and the short-legged terrier breeds, but there is a fundamental difference between them. The Dachshund and the short-legged terriers were bred for a specific purpose - to go to earth. Their short legs were an advantage to them in entering burrows. But the Munchkin Cat has been developed purely as an oddity, whose modified legs offer the animal no serious, practical advantage.
It emerged as a chance mutation in the United States in 1983, when a short-legged stray cat was discovered and became the foundation stock for the breed. Despite its clumsy appearance, it appears to have found favour among those who prefer to own an undemanding indoor cat. It first came to the notice of American cat breeders at a TICA show in Madison Square Gardens 1991. The original Munchkin was a black female called 'Blackberry' and the early examples came from Lousiana.
The breed has been developed in Virginia Beach, Virginia by the American breeder Penny Squires, who insists that they are not deformed. She points out that, for their owners, they offer the advantage that 'They can't jump on to kitchen counters. The only benefit she can envisage for the cats themselves is that 'they can chase things under the bed.'.
According to one report, the Munchkin is capable of turning faster than longer-legged breeds and is able to run backwards.
Critics of this breed, and there are many, point out that, apart from its lack of lithe feline grace, the Munchkin has great difficulty in grooming itself and also runs the risk of suffering from premature ageing of it unnaturally long spine. Despite the claims made for it by Penny Squires, these critics feel it is unlikely that this new breed will ever obtain wide popularity as a pedigree show cat.
Short-legged cats have appeared before, the first in England in the 1930s. They lasted for several generations but apparently died out during the chaos of World War II. After the war, one was reported in Russia in Stalingrad (now St Petersberg) in 1953, but, like the English ones, this line did not survive.
The International Munchkin Society. Tel: 001-413-736-6381.
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