There are many different cat breeds in the world and they all have their own unique features that set them apart from the rest. Some cats have curly hair, other cats have huge ears, but yet other cats are known for their very short legs.
If you’re a short-legged cat fanatic, I’m sure you’ve heard of the Munchkin cat. Some people also call it a sausage or dwarf cat because of its short legs. It’s the most well-known cat with short legs, but did you know there are several other breeds with a short stature that are equally adorable? All of them are a result of cross-breeding with Munchkin cats, but they all look very different because they’re all results of cross-breeding with different kinds of domestic cat breeds.
In today’s article, the focus is completely on these short-legged felines. In total, there are 9 cat breeds that have short legs and in this overview, I’ll cover all of them. Of course, an overview of cats can never be complete without paying the cat tax (pictures) so that’s included too. Let’s dig in!
- 1 1. Munchkin
- 2 2. Lambkin
- 3 3. Minskin
- 4 4. Napoleon Cat
- 5 5. Bambino Cat
- 6 6. Kinkalow
- 7 7. The Dwelf Cat
- 8 8. Skookum
- 9 9. Genetta
- 10 FAQ
Of course, we have to start with the Munchkin. The one thing that all the short-legged cats on the list have in common is that they all descended from this particular breed.
The Munchkin cat is so short because of a natural genetic mutation. The gene that’s responsible for giving them their short stature is similar to the gene that gives dachshunds and Welsh corgis their diminutive stature. Luckily, since cats have different spines than dogs, Munchkins do not suffer from the same spinal problems that this gene usually causes in canines.
The first occurrence of this genetic mutation is not completely clear but a veterinarian in the UK first described a generation of cats with short legs in the 1940s. The mutation that causes short legs in cats made its first appearance in the United States in the 1980s in Louisiana when a kitten named “Blackberry” was born.
Blackberry had several litters of kittens, half of which were munchkins like her, while the other half were not. The Munchkin breed was first recognized in the United States in 1994 by the International Cat Association.
It is important to note that Munchkins should not breed with other Munchkins because this makes it possible for them to inherit copies of the gene that causes the short legs from both parents which results in these embryos dying in the womb. It is for that reason that these cats are only bred with regular domestic cats.
This breed is very affectionate and friendly. It loves to spend a lot of time on your lap and is very playful.
The Lambkin is quite rare. It’s a cross between a Munchkin and the Selkirk Rex. Because of this, it has both curly hair and short legs. Their curly hair is where their name originates from, it’s kind of like the wool on a lamb!
This is quite a new breed, and because of that, it’s not recognized by every cat organization yet but the Dwarf Cat Association (TDCA) does recognize this breed.
This cat has a fully grown height of 7 to 8 inches and a weight of around 7 pounds.
It has an easygoing, sweet, and affectionate temperament and loves being around people. They make great family pets and will get along with everyone. Since it has a curly coat, you will have to brush it more frequently than straight-haired cats, but on the whole, this isn’t too time-consuming.
If you’re planning on adopting one of these sweet little fellas, make sure that you find a reputable breeder. Some dwarf cats are more prone to health issues, so making sure that you get a healthy specimen is important to minimize that risk.
The Minskin is a cross between the Munchkin and the Sphynx cat with some admixture from the Devon Rex and the Burmese. This breed was first envisioned by Paul McSorley in 1998. The breeding process took about 2 years and in July 2000 the first Minskin cat was born. This breed is currently being monitored by The International Cat Association in anticipation of being recognized as a new breed.
Because this breed has admixture from so many different kinds of cats its coat can come in different varieties. The Minskin can be hairless, only have hair on its tail, feet, and ears or can be fully coated. One thing they all have in common is that they all have short legs because of their Munchkin ancestry.
An interesting aspect about this breed is that its tail is longer than the rest of its body, which also makes it quite easy to recognize this breed. They also have very large ears and big eyes. Because of this, people often describe them as looking exotic or having an “alien-like” appearance.
These cats are very sweet-tempered and affectionate and love to play. In addition, they get along great with children and other animals.
4. Napoleon Cat
The Napoleon cat is a breed that got its name from the famous French Emperor. Funnily enough, while this cat is named after Napoleon who is often depicted as being very short, the French statesman actually wasn’t that short and was about average height for his time. The reason why he was so often depicted as being short was most likely propaganda. Nevertheless, while he wasn’t short in reality, the propaganda stuck, and even almost 2 centuries after his death a cat was still named after him because it has short legs. Another interesting fact is that Napoleon actually suffered from a fear of cats.
The Napoleon cat is also known as the Minuet cat. It was first bred by Joe Smith who crossed a Munchkin and a Persian cat which resulted in this breed. They are medium in size and have a round face with large, round eyes that give them a very cute appearance. They also have a very plushy, luxurious coat that feels soft to the touch.
This short cat is very sweet and easygoing and gets along great with kids. They have a very warm and social personality and love spending time with their family. Do keep in mind that these are quite active and playful cats, so they need a good amount of attention.
5. Bambino Cat
Bambinos are cats that are created by crossing a Hairless Sphynx with a Munchkin. Because they are crossed with the Sphynx cat they are often hairless or have a little bit of fuzz with wrinkled skin. The feeling when petting one of these hairless cats is often compared to touching a warm peach.
These cats are incredibly active and love to jump and play around, which they seemingly do without any problems, even with their shorter legs! They’re also very loving and affectionate creatures. However, while they can make great pets due to their loving nature, you do have to be quite careful with them.
Because they do not have any fur you have to keep them out of the sunlight otherwise they can get sunburns. This also means that if you adopt a Bambino you can not let it go outside, they’re strictly an indoors cat.
They will also need to be washed on a regular basis with a mixture of soap and water to clean the oils they accumulate off their skin. To learn more about caring for hairless cats, The Spruce Pets wrote a good guide that you can find here.
The Kinkalow is yet another short-legged cat. It’s a mixture of the American Curl and, of course, the Munchkin. It has the characteristic curly ears from the American Curl and the short legs from the Munchkin. This breed is quite rare, and not seen very often.
It was first bred by Terri Harris in the United States in the mid-’90s. She wanted to create a cat that has both short legs and curled ears, and she succeeded. Since then, the Dwarf Cat Association has officially recognized this breed and it’s currently listed as an experimental breed at The International Cat Association.
Many people describe the head and body of this breed as having the shape of a tiger. However, while it might have some features that resemble a tiger, the fact that it has its remarkable curly ears gives it a very unique and cute appearance. They usually have a Calico, Tortie, or tabby pattern with a gray, orange, cream, or black coat. Their coat length can be either long or short.
This cat is very outgoing, affectionate, and loves to run around at top speed. On top of that, they’re highly intelligent and love to play – combine these two factors and you have a cat that can be taught how to play fetch!
7. The Dwelf Cat
The Dwelf cat is a bit of a strange-looking cat. Some people love its appearance, but others are a bit freaked out by it. The reason why this breed is called a “Dwelf” is that it’s a dwarf cat that has facial features that somewhat resemble an elf – big eyes, long ears, and a triangular face.
This breed is a combination of the American Curl, the Sphynx, and the Munchkin cats. It has the short legs of the Munchkin, the wrinkly, mostly hairless skin of the Sphynx, and the ears of the American Curl.
These cats are usually described as being kind of dog-like – they’re very active, social, and affectionate but that also means that they need quite a lot of care and interaction.
The Skookum is a curly-haired, short-legged mixture between the LaPerm and the Munchkin. It was first crossed in the ’90s and has since been recognized by several organizations around the world, such as the Dwarf Cat Association. However, The International Cat Association does not yet completely recognize this breed, but it has been accepted for registration as an experimental variety.
This cat breed is calm, confident, and intelligent. It will often spend hours playing but also enjoys spending time on your lap. The Skookum is often described as staying “kitten-like” all throughout their life in their behavior as well as their appearance, partly due to their short stature.
The Genetta is a breed that was started by Shannon Kiley in 2006. This breed is a cross of the Munchkin, the Bengal, and the Savannah Cat. Because this cat has parentage from the Munchkin, it has very short legs. It also has the striking pattern of the Bengal cat, making it a very desirable breed.
This breed is currently not recognized by the International Cat Association but breeders are in the process of getting it recognized.
This breed is affectionate, playful, and energetic. Because of these traits, they will need a lot of attention and interaction.
Now that we’ve gone over the 9 short-legged cat breeds, I’d like to answer some frequently asked questions that about these breeds.
Are cats with short legs healthy?
Generally speaking, Munchkin and other cats with short legs are known to be quite healthy. There aren’t any genetic conditions specific to this breed that have been reported. Since cats have a different spine than dogs, dwarf cats do not suffer from the same problems that dogs with short legs do.
Why do these cats have short legs?
The reason why they have short legs is because of a naturally occurring genetic mutation that results in osteochondrodysplasia which manifests itself as noticeably short legs. Once this mutation has happened, it can be passed down from the parent to the kitten.
Is it cruel to have cats with short legs?
There’s a bit of a debate about this. Some people think that breeding cats with a genetic mutation like short legs just because they look cute is cruel because it can hinder the cat when running or jumping, while others believe that it’s totally fine as long as it doesn’t harm the animal.
Some countries, like the Netherlands, have even banned the ownership of cats with dwarfism such as the Munchkin.
How big do cats with short legs get?
As the name suggests, Dwarf cats usually do not get very big. How big they get exactly varies slightly from breed to breed, but in general, they grow to around 7 inches in height and weigh around 8 pounds.
Are cats with short legs expensive?
Yes. When you want a cat with short legs it’s recommended to get one from a reputable breeder because otherwise, you might get a cat that is predisposed to certain conditions. Since you’ll have to go with a reputable breeder, you’ll likely pay quite a pretty penny for one of these cats.
The exact price you pay depends on which breed you’re looking for, but a Munchkin kitten usually costs over $1000.