Short-legged cats have been around for some time now. However, they seemed to have disappeared during World War II. They re-emerged decades later in Russia (1956) and in the US (1970s). It was only in the 1980s that feline fanciers actively bred what they also call the “kangaroo cat.”
The founding cat of today’s Munchkin is a stray, short-legged, pregnant cat called Blackberry from Louisiana, USA. It gave birth to a litter of similarly stubby-legged kitties in 1983 after it was taken in by Sandra Hockenedel.
One of its male kittens was given to her friend Kay LaFrance, who allowed it to roam freely outdoors. Soon enough, her area had more sightings of short-legged kitties. This phenomenon prompted the ladies to consider developing what appeared to be a new breed.
In 1991, the Munchkin was finally presented to the public through a televised cat show. Its development was later taken up by TICA in 1994, ensuring the diminutive felines are bred responsibly.
Genetic studies revealed that the unusually short limbs were due to a natural genetic mutation. In fact, the gene responsible for the Munchkin’s short legs is the same one found in Dachshund, Basset Hound, and Welsh Corgi. It was also determined that breeding a Munchkin Cat to another can lead to the death of a quarter of the resulting litter. As such, this feline is usually bred with longer-legged breeds.
In 2003, this “sausage cat” was awarded Championship status by TICA. It is not yet recognised by the GCCF.