Controversial Munchkin Cat Health Problems and Misconceptions Addressed

munchkin cats

They’re small, short and completely adorable, and they’re called Munchkin Cats. These animals are very new, and they are quickly increasing in popularity due to the fact that they tend to look like kittens for the duration of their lives. This is something that many cat owners love about these cats; kittens are so adorable and so small, and the idea of having a cat that stays this size forever is appealing to many. After all, how many children who wanted kittens grow quickly tired of their cats when they begin to grow up? The same can be said for adults.

The munchkin cat, as cute as it is, is a controversial breed. It was back in the mid-90s when breeders began fighting for this cat to be recognized as a breed, and it doesn’t make many people too happy. The controversial breed is known for its sweet look and tiny frame, but it’s also widely believed that the cat has health problems that many breeders ignore and cat owners are often unaware of. However, when a buyer is spending this kind of money on an animal, they want to do so with the knowledge that this animal isn’t going to up and die or spend all its time at the vet. They’re expensive cats, and owners aren’t looking to spend even more on them because of astounding vet fees.

That said, it’s important to understand that the munchkin cat is cute, but are looks deceiving? This is not to say that this animal is one that will not live forever when you make the choice to purchase it. However, it’s important to us that anyone interested in this kind of animal is aware of the potential health problems that surround this cat, which is why we’ve broken it down on your behalf.

What is a Munchkin Cat?

In short, a munchkin cat is one whose legs do not grow the same size as a normal adult cat. It’s considered a genetic mutation. The line of short-legged cats was first noticed in the 1940s, but it wasn’t long after that this particular type of cat wasn’t found anywhere. In the 1970s and 80s, however, the cat was spotted again in various parts of the world. In 1983, a woman in Louisiana found one hiding beneath a truck and brought it home. The cat was pregnant and half the born litter had short legs that never grew. The woman gave one of the males to her friend, and the male cat went around the neighborhood impregnating female cats. It was at that point this woman and her friend began to notice an increasing number of short-legged cats running around their southern city and decided they might have a new breed to deal with.

Are Munchkin Cats Prone to Health Issues?

When it was being considered to include the munchkin cat into its own recognized breed, many critics were against it because the cats are ‘so sick.’ It was widely believed at the time that these cats would have the same spinal issues that Daschund dogs face because of their short legs and the health issues that come with those. However, studies over the past several decades indicate that while many people are concerned about health issues, there really are not many to consider. The cat does have a chance of being diagnosed with any type of issue, but there are very few health issues that are breed specific.

Lordosis is the most common health issues that these cats might face. It’s a condition in which the cat’s spine does not grow correctly. With this very rare health issue, spinal muscles do not grow to the correct size and the spine of the cat begins to sink down inside the body of the cat and death is almost always certain. The important thing to notice about this cat is that a severe form will kill an animal inside of three months. Additionally, it is not specific to the munchkin cat and can be experienced by other types of cat as well.

The other health issue that these cats are prone to that does not affect other cats is found in the breeding. If you take two short-legged munchkin cats and breed them together, you will not find that any of the litter survives. The genetics that cause these animals to have short legs are lethal when the gene is given to a kitten twice. However, if you breed a long-legged munchkin with a short-legged munchkin only one gene is passed to the kittens in the litter and they will survive. Not all the cats in the litter will have the same short legs, but it’s almost guaranteed that at least half of the litter will have the short legs these breeds are known for.

When Looking for a Munchkin

Now that you know what to expect from a cat like this, let’s quickly discuss what you’re going to pay and what to look for when you are purchasing one so that you know you’re getting a healthy cat. It’s not any less healthy than other cats, but that doesn’t mean you can’t end up with a ‘bad’ kitten that’s not as healthy as you’re being led to believe.

The average price for a Munchkin kitten varies greatly based on breeders, on location and on what you want. The price can range anywhere from $500 to $900 on average, though it is always possible to find munchkin kittens that cost more or less. When you do find a breeder who has some kittens for sale, please do take the time to ask the breeder to show you the health records of the kittens and the parents. Without these, you might end up with a kitten that has other health problems not associated to the breed but to what it has inherited from its parents. It’s not uncommon to find cats that have some serious health issues if you’re not careful what you look for. A breeder not willing to provide you with this information is one you should walk away from empty-handed.

Photos by Getty 

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