Personality and Controversy!
Munchkin cats look like the feline equivalent of a Dachshund, with their short legs and long bodies.
But the breed is very controversial, and some cat experts think they shouldn't be bred at all.
This page goes through the key characteristics of the breed, including personality and history.
It also explains why these cats have short legs, and why some cat fanciers don't agree with breeding Munchkin kittens.
Before we get into details, here's a quick overview of the breed:
Personality: Generally sociable and outgoing, playful, clever
Suits: Singles, first time cat owners, families
Other: Love attention, active and very resourceful when they want to get on high surfaces (will use anything available as a climbing frame!)
1) What are they like as pets?
These cats generally have outgoing personalities. I say generally... because they are mixed breed (more on this below), their personality is less predictable than that of a pure breed cat.
They're affectionate and love attention.
They come in long and short haired varieties. Long haired Munchkins need regular grooming - especially on their tummy - to stop their fur getting matted. Any Munchkin cat that goes outdoors may need bits of the garden removed from his tummy when he comes inside!
Some people believe they're more at risk of being caught by dogs and foxes because their short legs don't allow them to run as fast.
2) Looks, build, colors and markings
Munchkin kittens and cats are characterized by their short, slightly bent legs. They look a bit like Dachshund dogs (but they don't suffer from the back problems that Dachshunds get).
The gene that's responsible for the short legs isn't linked to coat color, so these cats come in virtually any color combination.
The breed originated in Louisiana in the 1980s, when a lady rescued two cats with short legs that had been cornered by a dog. One was bred and produced some kittens with short legs. They were named Munchkin after the little people in the Wizard of Oz.
4) So, why the controversy?
The Munchkin's short legs are due to a genetic disorder. Some cat experts think it's ethically wrong to deliberately breed cats with short legs (though generally they are pretty healthy otherwise).
Also, because of the way the gene is inherited, there is a high birth mortality in the kittens. Basically, if two Munchkin cats are bred, there's a 25% (1 in 4) chance that a kitten will be born dead. This mortality rate is considered unacceptable by some experts.
Many people who own these cats say they have no problems at all with their health and that they make wonderful pets. I think it's up to each individual person to decide whether they feel this breed is right for them, taking all factors into consideration.
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