Sunday, June 1, 2008

How to Identify A Munchkin Cat

The first two recorded Munchkin cats were found by a school teacher under a pick-up truck in rural Louisiana two decades ago. They take their names from the diminutive munchkins from the story "The Wizard of Oz". It is from these two cats that all the known Munchkins are descended. They get their name because of an odd genetic mutation which results in legs about half the length of a normal cat. Some organizations refuse to recognize the Munchkin as a separate breed, say that it’s simply an American Shorthair suffering from a genetic disorder. Most cat breeders and enthusiasts disagree and are pushing hard to get the Munchkin into national cat shows. Though the species is often very easy to recognize, there are a slew of other traits the Munchkin possesses that one should look for. This guide will explain how to properly identify a Munchkin cat.

How To Identify A Munchkin
Step 1:
Look at the cat's shape. If it has extremely short legs it may be a Munchkin. However, if the short legs are accompanied by an over-sized head than what you're looking at is a cat with a genetic illness called achondroplasia and is not really a Munchkin. Some Munchkins are born with normal length legs, so leg length is not the final deciding factor on identifying the species. Regardless of leg length you should see a breed similar to an American Shorthair though smaller in size. It's rare to find one over ten pounds and is considered a small breed.

Step 2:
Look at and feel the fur. The Munchkin has a coat of thick, but short hairs. Their texture around the face, throat, and underbelly should be similar to that of rabbit's fur.

Step 3:
Watch the way the cat walks. Often they will begin to move with a rabbit-like hop, throwing their weight from the rear legs to their forelegs so their hind end flies up in the air. It's a very distinctive hop that is done only by the breed.

Step 4:
Watch the way the cat looks around. Often Munchkins will stand on their hind legs when looking around to get a higher vantage point. It bears a striking resemblance to the way a meerkat of Africa will stand up to look for danger. If the cat meets these criteria then you’re definitely looking at a Munchkin. They are rarely found anywhere but an accomplished breeder's facility, so it’s a rare find indeed.

Tips & Warnings
The munchkin cat is the source of great controversy among breeders and some government organizations. The government claims that these cats are classified as malformed animals and considers breeding them because of the potential health problems such animals might encounter. Breeders say that these cats are a breed unto themselves and are in no danger from the genetic mutation munchkins have which results in their shortened legs. The Munchkin is the ideal indoor cat. They don't sharpen their claws, they don't climb, and they don't shed much. They are very social and affectionate and prefer to be with people than be alone. They get lonely easily. They love to play and are a great companion to small children given their playful nature and non-aggressive nature.
Because the Munchkin has likely been crossbred with other species in its history, these cats can have virtually any fur color or pattern and as such this is not an effective way of recognizing the breed.

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