A Munchkin cat lies atop a couch armrest

Munchkin Mania: Do You Know the Sausage Cat?


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The Munchkin cat is to cats what the Dachshund is to dogs. While Dachshunds are sausage dogs, the Munchkin is the sausage cat. It’s an average sized cat with shorter than average legs. This short legged cat is a newish breed – it’s only been around since the 1940s – and only recognised by (some) cat fanciers since the 90s.

So what’s to know about this cutesome cat? Lots! In fact this little sausage is surrounded by controversy (we’ll get to that further on). But first, here’s the average lifespan, cost, health and personality traits of the little Munchkin.

a ginger kitten looks at its reflection in the mirror

Do Munchkin cats live long?

One of the most common questions asked about this breed is “Do Munchkin cats live long?”

We’ve cut to the chase by answering this and other fast facts about this short-legged cat:

Expected life span12 – 15 years
Height18 –20 cm
WeightMales, 2.7 – 4.1 kg / Females, 1.8 – 3.6 kg
Coat typeMedium-plush and long-haired
Coat colourAll colours (and patterns)

Is a Munchkin cat a good pet?

The little sausage cat is known for being intelligent and affectionate. Apparently it’s a breed that keeps on being playful even once it’s grown up. The Munchkin cat is known for being a good pet that gets on well with everyone in the family – including other pets.

Munchkins are named after the society of little people in the Wizard of Oz.

It’s a breed that’s easy to train and despite being a short legged cat, has no problems running. Having said that, it’s less keen when it comes to jumping. Living with a longer spine in proportion to legs makes jumping tricky – and a bad idea.

A cute cat makes a funny expression

Can you get Munchkin cats in New Zealand?

Munchkin cats have been bred in New Zealand since 1997, just six years after becoming a recognised pedigree. This short legged cat breed isn’t accepted by all cat fanciers, though. And across the ditch you’re not allowed to breed Munchkins in Victoria or Australian Capital Territory.

Why is this?

The Munchkin cat is essentially a dwarf cat; its little legs come from a genetic mutation. While this may have occurred in the first Munchkin meows by dint of nature, there’s concern over the intentional breeding of this mutation. Mostly, the worry is that it could lead to several genetic health problems.

Cats that come from X Munchkin

Munchkin cats have been cross bred with other cats to get the following new breeds:

  • Skookum. Munchkin X curly-coated LaPerm
  • Minskin and Bambino. Munchkin X Sphynx (find more hairless cat breeds to cuddle)
  • Lambkin. Munchkin X curly-coated Selkirk Rex 
  • Minuet. Munchkin X Persian breeds (including Himalayans and Exotic Shorthairs)
  • Kinkalow. Munchkin X American Curl 
  • Scottish Kilts. Munchkin X Scottish Fold
  • Genetta. Munchkin X Bengal
a short legged cat - also known as a sausage cat - goes for a stroll alongside some green grass

Are Munchkin cats expensive?

Because of its relative uniqueness, the Munchkin cat is hard to breed, making it rare and therefore expensive. While you can find them listed online for around $500, prices may vary depending on the level of pedigree. What we’re saying is, if the pricing seems very cheap then it’s very likely too good to be true.

One thing that’s certain is that you should avoid falling prey to online scams – never mail order a Munchkin, or any other pet! If you’re going the adoption route, great – here’s a quick rundown of tips for when you adopt a cat and reasons to consider adopting an adult cat.

If you’re buying a purebred, it’s essential to go the ethical breeder route. This is the best way to avoid genetic illnesses because ethical breeders ought to do health screenings on parent cats before mating them. It’s also the safest way to buy a purebred without supporting unethical breeding practices (like over-breeding).

Speaking of breeding, here’s why this sausage cat is so rare and hard to breed…

Sausage cats are rare thanks to the M gene

Munchkins are essentially dwarf cats and the genetic mutation that causes dwarfism (referred to as M in cats) isn’t simple to reproduce. In fact, a kitten with two M genes, or MM, won’t survive to ever be born.

A kitten with one munchkin gene and one regular gene (known as a lower-case m) will essentially have the magic ratio of Mm and will make it.

If you’re following the math, this means MM is a no-go for breeding and Mm is possible but what about mm, hmmm?

It turns out that kittens with two regular mm genes are your everyday, run-of-the-mill normal cats. No short legs for them. But hey, that comes with health perks.

A sausage cat cat crouches low on a rug in a lounge

Are Munchkin cats healthy?

As a Munchkin mum or dad, you might want to limit your kitty little from jumping to reduce any stress on their spine. Having a disproportionately long spine compared to the length of one’s legs can lead to all sorts of aches and pains.

For example, these sausage cats are prone to excessive curvature of the spine and a hollowed chest. Munchkin cats can also be more predisposed to arthritis in cats because having short sausage cat legs affects their activity levels and how they move around.

Also read about IVDD in Dachshunds, which has a higher prevalence due to their sausage dog proportions.

Do Munchkin cats scratch furniture? 

When it comes to scratching, Munchkin cats are like any old cats – they have claws and must scratch. Scratching is a healthy, natural part of being a cat. It helps them keep their claws up to date and it all round good condition. While you or I would use a nail cutter and nail file, your little Munchkin may turn its claws on your furniture.

There are a couple of things you can do…

Firstly, consider getting them a cat scratch post and reward them for using it. You can also put the post where you know they like spending time and this could help. Failing this, we recommend pet proofing your home and watching this PD Pet Care vlog with Dr Cath Watson for some great advice:

Award winning pet insurance for Kiwi cats and dogs

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With multi award winning cover, PD Pet Insurance can help you pay for a broad range of unexpected vet costs, which can quickly grow. Consider the costs of veterinary surgery, pet dental procedures, hospital stayovers, prescription medication and more.

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