Update February 2023: this page was first published in around 2007 as I recall. The situation regarding the dwarf cat breed is now more settled. The foundation cat breed for all dwarf cats is the Munchkin. Hybridisation of this cat breed with others has resulted in about a dozen dwarf cat breeds (scroll down this long page to see them and links to more). They are rare. Most people don’t know about them but the Munchkin is established.
NOTE: this article has been divided into several sections for technical reasons. At the end of each section there is a link to the following section (pagination). Thanks. All the content it there as usual.
RELATED: Why do Munchkin cats stand up?
Dwarf cats are controversial as you probably know. It is difficult for a dwarf cat to behave entirely normally with shortened legs and a normal-sized body. This is the criticism that Ben the Vet on TikTok makes. He also states that dwarf cats can suffer from spinal problems somewhat like the dachshund dog. Some people refer to dwarf cats as sausage cats.
However, it is unclear at this time whether dwarf cats do in fact consistently suffer from spinal problems. But they are predisposed to a couple of inherited diseases about which I have written in the past. These are lordosis (excessive curvature of the spine) and pectus excavatum (hollowed chest). You can read more about that by clicking on this link if you wish.
These are two conditions with increased incidence in this breed which are linked to the genetic mutation causing the short-leg trait referred to as achondrodysplasia. It is a disorder which causes dwarfism. It is sometimes referred to as hypochondroplasia or pseudoachondroplasia.
Dwarf cats also have a higher risk of severe osteoarthritis. They say this is because dwarf cats are less active. This supports the view of Ben that they can’t behave normally. Although, in defence, dwarf cat breeders have said that their cats can behave normally.
The dwarf cats are still controversial. They are probably more so today than they were when they were first introduced into the cat fancy (officially recognised in 1991). There is a greater sensitivity, arguably, to creating cat breeds out of genetic mutations causing inherited diseases. In Germany they call this “torture breeding”. They are banned in Germany.
In America, The International Cat Association (TICA) are the only cat registry accepting this breed. The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) appear to have resolutely rejected it on the grounds of health and ethics.
Apparently, the Southern Africa Council also accept the breed. Dwarf cats are largely rejected by cat associations but they are inherently popular because of their cute appearance. Although there is a greater awareness of health issues.
It should be stressed that the dwarf cats have a normal appearance except for their shortened legs.
The munchkin gene is autosomal dominant. Only kittens that are heterozygous for the munchkin gene, with only one copy, develop into viable short legged munchkin kittens. If they have 2 copies, they are unviable embryos.
Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.