Cat of the Month ~ November 2011
Munchkin cats are a controversial breed. Munchkins have a naturally occurring genetic mutation that results in them having legs which are unusually short... but the question many have asked is "is it ethical to go on breeding these mutant cats".
It is said that the 'short leg' gene of the Munchkin is similar to the gene which gives Basset Hound, Corgi and Dachshund dogs their short stature (the little 'Scottish Fold' cats also have this gene). Munchkins though, do not suffer from the many spinal problems that these dogs are prone to. Studies have shown that the spine of a Munchkin cat is very rarely different from that of other cats. So perhaps it is not such a bad thing that they are bred for their small size.
Long before the name 'Munchkin' was first used, there had been sightings of these short-legged cats the world over. For example, a large breeding population had been observed in Europe throughout the early part twentieth century. This group had though all but died out by 1950.
It was in 1964 that a solitary cat of the Munchkin breed was first documented in the United States by Ellen Kasten in the town of Westbury, New York, but it was not until 1983 when a music teacher in Louisiana found two pregnant cats (one of which had a litter of short-legged kittens!) that the Munchkin 'line' was truly begun.
It took another eight years before the Munchkin was first introduced to the general public. In 1991 a national network televised cat show held by The International Cat Association in Madison Square Garden presented several Munchkins to the adoring public. It was not all roses though as there was much controversy when TICA went on to accept the Munchkin into its New Breed development program in September 1994. Critics predicted that the breed would develop back, hip and leg problems.
In fact studies at the time proved that the Munchkin was a physically sound cat. At the time one veteran show judge resigned in protest, calling the breed an affront to all breeders with ethics. However the Munchkin achieved TICA Championship status in May 2003 (go Munchkin!).
The Munchkin is generally described as a sweet-natured, playful, people-oriented, outgoing and intelligent cat which responds well to being handled. As pets they are very playful and certainly don't let their shorter legs hinder them from running, jumping and climbing, just like other cats do.
Pages: 1· 2