Munchkin cat looking in mirror

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These fluffy little felines look like they’ve walked straight out of a story book, with their characteristically short legs and tiny features, earning themselves the name: munchkin cat. These fascinating felines are known for their plush, long haired coats, and generally sweet nature.

Learn more about this playful, fuzzy companion, whether you’re a pet parent already or just a cat-enthusiast. Discover more about the munchkin cat’s origins, typical behavioral type and more, to decide whether or not this cat might be the best addition to your family.

History & Origin of the Munchkin Cat

Originating in 1983, the inspiration for the munchkin cat breed name stemmed from the Wizard of Oz.1 Their characteristically short legs are believed to come from a mutated gene that was first documented in 1930s England.1 The resulting side effects of the mutation are generally considered manageable but many question the ethics behind breeding munchkin cats.2 The mutation that causes these short legs can make mobility more difficult for the cat, so some people disagree with breeding cats specifically to have this deformity.

Munchkin cat height, weight, and life expectancy info

Physical Attributes of Munchkin Cats

The most striking physical feature of the munchkin cat breed is their short little legs. These small legs cause them to move differently to other cats, often being described as “weasel-like”.3 Because they have long bodies that are low to the ground, their walking style has often been described as “wriggling” as opposed to the slender agility other cats move with.3

The munchkin is a small to medium sized cat, that comes in a range of colorings and fur types.1 This includes shorthair munchkin cats who have semi-plush, medium-length coats, as well as long-hair munchkin cats who semi-long, silky coats.1 They also have wedge shape heads and large, walnut shaped eyes. They usually range between 5 to 8 pounds and are about 5 to 7 inches tall.2

Behavioral Characteristics of Munchkin Cats

Every cat has their own unique personality that is dependent on the way they have been socialized and bred. Like humans, every single cat is different and their personalities cannot be generalized so simply. However, there are some traits more common in munchkin cats that may be interesting to note.

These often extroverted little bundles of fur can be extremely social.1 Many love to be around people, whether it’s children or adults, they’re not picky, but many also enjoy being around other animals, such as other cats and dogs. This often makes them easy to integrate into a family with pre-existing pets.

Munchkin cats also tend to be quite energetic - they may be small but they are mighty! Lively, playful felines, the munchkin cat is not limited by its short legs and enjoys tapping into its hunting instincts and pouncing on toys.1 They have even been known to stand on their hind legs like a rabbit so they can see their surroundings clearer - it’s just too cute!4

Playing with a munchkin cat provides endless hours of entertainment. Although they can’t jump in the same way other breeds can, these intelligent animals find their own unique solutions and so they can be fascinating to watch.

When all is said and done and they are finally pooped out after a long day of playing, munchkin cats can often be found crawling up onto their owners laps and settling down. Cuddles and lap time do not go amiss with the munchkin cat, thanks to their often affectionate, loving nature.

Munchkin Cat Breed Health Risks

The munchkin cat has a lifespan of about 12 to 15 years, meaning they are often happy, healthy cats that live long, successful lives.2 Due to the fact that they are a relatively new breed, there are few diseases associated or found common amongst them.4 As a general rule, all pets should go to routine veterinarian check ups at least once a year. Keeping a regular visiting schedule with your veterinarian prevents any malicious diseases from sneaking up on your beloved pet, and prevents any nasty surprises. However, some research indicates there may be the following few health issues with the unique munchkin cat breed.

Munchkin cats can be prone to Factor XII Deficiency Variant 1 and Variant 2, also known as Hageman trait.1 This is an asymptomatic blood factor condition which can cause prolonged blood clotting.1 However, this blood condition does not contribute towards an abnormal tendencies to bleed, but laboratory screening tests should be performed to search for clots.1

Munchkin cats are also prone to Progressive Retinal Atrophy, which may result in a loss of vision.1 This condition causes degeneration of the light sensing retina at the back of the eye.1

Caring for a Munchkin Cat

Although they have a love for the outdoors, munchkin cats are definitely indoor cats and should be kept in the house with a secure play pen outside if they enjoy outdoor stimulation.2 Therefore, munchkin cats are more suited to owners who are frequently at home and have free time to monitor their little furball.

Ensure you are giving your cat a high quality cat food that is appropriate to their age. Monitor their consumption to prevent obesity, which can lead to other various illnesses and ailments. This is especially important with munchkin cats as this breed is especially prone to arthritis, which can occur as a cause of obesity.2 Keep fresh, clean water available for them to drink whenever they like.

Due to their short legs, munchkin cats may struggle to reach the areas that other cats can easily clean themselves.2 Therefore, grooming is an important part of the munchkin cat’s weekly/bi weekly routine, depending on the fur type of your munchkin - with long coated munchkin’s needing grooming everyday.2 Additionally, your munchkin cat will need the occasional bath.4

You should also ensure their ears are cleaned and their nails regularly trimmed, to avoid them injuring their paws or tearing accidental holes in any fabric in your house.4

Having good dental care is also important. Brushing your cat’s teeth regularly is essential for your cat’s overall wellbeing. Using a cat-safe toothbrush and a cat-safe toothpaste is the best way to do this, although getting your cat’s teeth professionally cleaned may also be a good option for you.

All cats should have parasite protection upkeep that fits according to your veterinarian’s recommendations. Parasites can lead to illnesses and disease, so ensuring that you are staying on top of your cat’s protection is very important.

Another difficulty munchkin cats face is their lack of ability to climb. Although they find their own ways around, as mentioned earlier, small steps and ramps should be introduced to your home, so that your cat doesn’t have to strain themselves too much by taking any risky leaps of faith. This way they also won’t knock things over.2

Munchkin cats can be expensive, ranging from $500-1200


How rare are munchkin cats?

Due to the fact that this breed stems from a genetic mutation, the munchkin cat is quite rare, especially when compared to other cats like the American Shorthair, which can be found frequenting most streets.4 Therefore, munchkin cats can be expensive, ranging from anywhere between $500 to $1200.4

Do munchkin cats stay small?

Yes, munchkin cats do stay relatively small, due to their short little legs. Although they do not stay as tiny as a kitten, they do not rise off the ground very much, with a body that is little and long at the same time, making for a unique looking kitty! In fact, a munchkin currently holds the world record for the shortest cat ever living, measuring at only 5.25 inches from the floor!4

Are munchkin cats high maintenance?

There are a few elements that can make munchkin cats high maintenance - their need for ramps and accessible furniture and the fact that they are an exclusively indoor cat, so they may suit an owner who spends a lot of time at home. However, no pet comes without a bit of loving work from the owner and these can be small matters in the long run. Apart from that, munchkin cats are much the same as any other breed in terms of maintenance and care time.

Munchkin cat in front of yarn balls

Final Notes

It may have tiny little legs, but this cat surely is a punchy little furball full of personality. Whether they’re chasing after toys or cuddled up in your lap, the munchkin cat is an all around brilliant pet. Often friendly and extroverted, this little bundle of joy can get on with anyone, dog, cat or human! With characteristically short legs, round eyes and fluffy coats, how can anyone resist these adorable felines? If you spend a lot of time at home and want a cuddly companion to keep you company, then look no further than the munchkin cat.

Does the munchkin cat sound like the right addition to your household? How exciting, you’re on your first step towards being a pet parent! Use our blog resources to estimate how much owning a pet will cost, as well as other blogs with more facts about caring for a cat or a dog.

Other services we offer include our telemedicine services, in which you get easy access to a licensed veterinarian where you can voice any pet-related questions or concerns you have. Access our wide variety of advice, vet-recommended products and information blogs and try Dutch today - making caring for your pets easier.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dutch?

Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

What is a visit with Dutch like?

When booking a video call with a vet, you'll be asked a few questions about your pet’s health issue. Depending on the issue, you may also be asked to fill out a longer questionnaire about their symptoms and share photographs of them so our veterinarians can better understand what’s going on. You’ll then pick an appointment time that works best for you.

During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

After your video call, the vet will send you a message with a custom treatment plan to help your pet feel better, including a link to buy any recommended prescription or over-the-counter medications. Place your order and we’ll ship it free.

How much will it cost for Dutch to treat my pet?

The Dutch membership starts at $11/mo for unlimited access to the vet. No more long waits for appointments or surprise bills.

In addition to the base membership plan, our veterinarians may also recommend additional medication (Rx and/or OTC) that you will have the option of adding to your plan at an additional cost.