What's that long, low animal there? Is it a dachshund? No. Is it a ferret? No It's a Munchkin!
These cats look much like any other domestic cats except for their shortened legs, with the front legs slightly shorter than the hind legs.
As the gene pool for these cats remains open to any non-purebred, consistency of type is yet to be achieved.
Munchkins are popular because of their head turning wow look at that appearance.
On first seeing these unusual felines it does take a moment for it to register that they are indeed cats.
Owners report that Munchkins are very outgoing and adventurous, possessing a lot of confidence.
They are said to be highly tolerant to children and other pets, to be playful and kitten like, and to display a great deal of intelligence. As with any cat breed though, the personality of Munchkins will vary.
Munchkins are found with both long and short coat hair lengths and with all coat colors and patterns including pointed.
Apart from the shortened legs, these medium sized, muscular cats should be proportional. Male Munchkin cats weigh between 6 to 9 pounds and the females from 4 up to 8 pounds.
The Munchkin cat breed is a relatively new development but short-legged cats were bred in the 1930's in the United Kingdom, (it is possible that these cats had short front legs only.)
These cats were bred through four generations but with the upheaval of World War Two the line died out.
In the early 1950's a short-legged feral cat was discovered in Flatbush New York that became to be known as the Flatbush Mutation. Again the line died out after several generations.
German author Max Egon Thiel came across a cat with short legs when visiting Stalingrad in 1953.
He observed the cat, which was of normal appearance except for the short legs, sitting on its rear legs with its front legs up in the air so he named it the Stalingrad Kangaroo Cat.
The feline breed that today we know as the Munchkin originated in Rayville, Louisiana when Sandra Hochenedel encountered two female cats hiding under a pickup where they had been chased by a dog.
Sandra could not help noticing that both cats had extremely short legs. Also both cats were pregnant.
One cat was given away but Sandra kept the other who she named Blackberry and when the litter arrived about half of the kittens had the short legs of their mother.
One of the male short-legged kittens, named Toulouse was given to Kay LaFrance, who used it to establish a free breeding colony of these cats who had already earned the name Munchkin Cats (after the characters in L. Frank Baum's Oz stories.)
Controversy follows these ferret like cats and is likely to do so for some time to come. Not all registering associations recognize the Munchkin breed particularly European associations.
New cat breeds often encounter resistance before acceptance, the controversy over the Munchkin breed is robust because it raises the question of whether the short leg trait will make these cats liable to back and leg problems.
Such problems have not been encountered - however it should be kept in mind that these cats have only been produced over a comparatively short space of time.
Those that share their lives with Munchkins insist that their pets are not hampered in any way by their diminutive legs.
They are said to be as agile as, and to run as fast as any cat. Many Munchkin owners claim that their little pets can climb much the same as any other cat, although their ability to jump may be a little restricted.
It may be best to keep Munchkin cats as strictly indoor cats. Although they may be able to run swiftly from a predator, or an aggressive cat, their shortened legs may make defense a little difficult. It is said that Munchkins adapt very easily to walking on a harness and leash.
Controversy and concerns or not, Munchkin cats are highly prized by their owners and those that admire this distinctive breed of cat.