Dwarf Cat or Miniature Cat?

by Monica
(West Virginia)

Small cat on sofa - photo added by Michael (Admin) - this cat is not associated with the story - photo by scotproof (Flickr)

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Small cat on sofa - photo added by Michael (Admin) - this cat is not associated with the story - photo by scotproof (Flickr)

I have a cat that's approx 2 years old. We found her outside in mid-winter. She was so weak she couldn't walk. We took her to the vet and they told us it would be a waste of money, because she would most likely not make it a week or two.

My fiance couldn't just give up on her, so he said he'd pay whatever it took, and she did live.

She never got any bigger though and the vets concluded that she was much older than they had thought because of her small size.

I'm not sure if she can be considered dwarf or just small, what are the guidelines?


Hi Monica... thanks for visiting and asking. In simple terms a small or miniature cat is simply that. They are normal cats in every way but just small in the same way some people are small and some large.

Breeders of miniature cats such as teacup cats start with small cats and breed from that base, constantly refining it to make cats smaller and smaller. Health dictates the limit - see teacup cats.

Dwarf cats suffer from the genetically inherited (dominant gene) dwarfism causing shortened legs. The rest of the body is normal in conformation - see health issues of dwarf cats

Clearly your cat (and well done to you and your fiance for not giving up and paying vet's bills) is simply a small cat. I think that a consistent level of malnourishment in generations can cause them to become smaller but I have not read that anywhere.

In the far east, you not infrequently see small fragile looking cats, it seems to me.

True miniature cats are rare and we need to differentiate between sub adult cats and adult cats. True miniature cats are about 3 lbs when fully adult. Dwarf cats are less rare in my opinion and the best known dwarf cat is the founding dwarf cat, the Munchkin.

Well, I hope that answers your question and good luck with you cat.

Please upload a photo and I will put it on this page.


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Dwarf Cat or Miniature Cat?

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Apr 03, 2010
Small cat
by: Bob

It may have something to do with the malnourishment or simply a birth "defect". My cats are big, but my little El Ray is about the size of a four month old kitten, and he's over two years old now. He had a huge umbilical hernia, was born prematurely, and was a bilateral cryptorchid. His front legs are noticeably shorter than his back legs, and as a result he hops like a rabbit (but he's REALLY fast!). I'm guessing these were birth "defects" from being premature. I used quotes because while technically defects, they don't hinder him in any way, actually the bunny hop gives him an unfair advantage over the rest. He's perfectly healthy, so no problems there. His different characteristics simply give him his character. Your kitty may be small for a similar reason, or it may be genetic, but either way it doesn't matter. She is who she is, and as long as she's healthy and loved, that's all that is important.

2 thoughts on “Dwarf Cat or Miniature Cat?”

  1. My cat had kittens about 7 weeks ago. A very small litter only 2. She is a small cat compared to most I guess she only weighs about 6-7 lbs. Her 1st kitten was breech and seemed to not thrive too well at the beginning but is doing fantastic now and is going to a great new home with a friend next week. Her other kitten, however is very tiny about 1/3 the size of her sister and is very docile. She seems to still eat well from the mother but has no intrest in cat food,including tuna and chicken. I am taking her to the vet at the end of the month for a check up and shots but is this normal? Is she a miniture cat and will she always just stay this little?

    • Hi Kate. Yes, the kitten you describe is the kind of cat that might fall into the description ‘miniature cat’. Unlike for cat breeds, there is no formal definition of the phrase, ‘miniature cat’. It is just a term used by cat breeders (there are very few miniature cat breeders) to describe very small cats. The boundary between small, very small, miniature and teacup cats is grey. The is no clear demarcation.

      However, I am not sure you can assess a very young kitten’s final weight and size at this stage. She is obviously a very vulnerable and small cat that needs care. I would wait and see. The first stage is getting her to develop naturally and become adult.

      As I mentioned, miniature cats are not a cat breed so if your little cat grows up to be around the 5 lbs mark she’ll be a miniature cat. Good luck with her health and development.


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