Dwarfism in Cats: 5 Things You Should Know

Dwarfism in Cats

Cats suffer from a wide variety of health issues, including serious ailments like cancer and irritations like ear mites. However, they are also susceptible to genetic disorders just as humans are. One notable example is feline dwarfism.

Dwarfism in cats is a particularly interesting condition because it has received a great deal of attention in the media and among cat associations. It is essentially a condition which abnormally stunts the growth of a kitten. Common symptoms of dwarfism include disproportionately small legs, underbites, bow-leggedness, and a large head. However, some types of dwarfism result in small but proportionate cats.

It is important to understand dwarfism in order to have an informed opinion on how best to care for these animals. There are differing opinions on dwarf cats, and only by understanding the condition can an individual know which side to support. After all, even though their small appearance may be cute and attractive, the most important factor is the health of the cat. Here are five important features of feline dwarfism.

Dwarfism is associated with many health issues

Cats with dwarfism are at an increased risk of developing some serious and life threatening issues. For example, it is widely acknowledged that dwarf cats are prone to obesity, which can cause a multitude of problems for internal organs. As well, some types of dwarfism are associated with a much shorter life span.

Further, there are plenty of more minor conditions associated with dwarfism as well. Dwarf cats often have issues with their leg joints because the smaller legs have trouble handling the weight of the body. As well, the spine in dwarf cats can sometimes become curved, affecting the cat’s posture and ability to move well.

Different types of dwarfism have different characteristics

There are several different types of feline dwarfism. One of the most common types is osteochondrodysplasia, a bone disorder. This condition affects how the cat’s bones grow, resulting in shorter legs, larger heads, and other issues.

Another common type of dwarfism is pituitary dwarfism. This type occurs when the pituitary gland is damaged or underdeveloped, and results in cats that are much smaller than normal. However, these cats tend to be mostly proportionate. They will maintain their kitten fur as they age.

There is a heated debate about dwarf cats

Due to the health risks associated with feline dwarfism, many individuals, organizations, and countries vehemently oppose breeding dwarf cats. In these countries, breeding dwarf cats for commercial sale is illegal because it is considered animal cruelty. Knowing that a cat will likely suffer from serious health issues but still breeding it because its cute appearance will bring in money is a difficult position to defend.

The US is one of the only countries that officially recognizes dwarf cats. Munchkin cats in particular are extremely popular.

The Munchkin cat is the most famous type of dwarf cat

Munchkin cats are very popular for their adorable appearance. As well, they were officially recognized by The International Cat Association in 1994, a decision which sparked heated debate as to the treatment and classification of dwarf cats.

Today’s Munchkin cats owe their existence to Sandra Hochenedel, a music teacher who rescued two cats from a bulldog. She kept one, which gave birth to a litter in which half of the kittens had oddly short legs. These cats began the lines of kittens that are known today as Munchkin cats.

Grumpy Cat is a dwarf cat

Perhaps the most famous cat in the world, Grumpy Cat has been the source of countless Internet memes and videos, and even inspired a motion picture. She is famous for her perpetually “grumpy” expression.

Most people do not realize, however, that this expression is caused by feline dwarfism. As well, Grumpy Cat has shorter front legs which limit her ability to run. However, Tabatha Bundesen, her owner, has stated that the cat is happy and healthy.


Dwarf cats are interesting and often misunderstood. There are several types of dwarfism which affect cats in different ways. Further, there are many health risks and complications associated with the condition. This is the cause of a heated debate between countries like the US, which recognizes dwarf cats and allows for selective breeding, and countries which feel that the cats should not be bred for their own well-being.

Ultimately, the most important thing to consider is the health and happiness of these cats. Every animal deserves respect, and notable dwarf cats like Grumpy Cat show that with care, they can live excellent lives.

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