The sausage cat is in the news. Paris Hilton has one and she keeps up with the trends. Paris Hilton often posts pictures of her cat, Shorty, on her Instagram account which has 6.5 million followers. I know she bought one in around 2007.
Sausage cats are dwarf cats. And the most common dwarf cat is the Munchkin. This is the foundation dwarf cat from which all the others were created. And there are quite a few dwarf cat breeds including a hairless variety called the Bambino. You can guess where that name comes from – the soft skin without hair has hints of the skin of a baby and bambino is Italian for child or baby. There are or were 15 dwarf cat breeds in all.
Dwarf cats have been around for a long time but have hit the news again recently because celebrities have taken a fancy to them as accessories. From the point of view of a cat lover this is not good because it somewhat reduces a sentient being to an object.
Also, it has to be said that celebs like small animals as they can be carried under the arm or in the handbag. However, dwarf cats are standard size cats. It’s just the legs which are shortened. I hope they realise that.
There is criticism in the press today about the trend for adopting sausage cats. Vets in the UK have spoken out against their growing popularity. The dwarf cat breeders will be pleased as they have had a tough time marketing their cats. This is due to associated health issues and the stance taken by cat associations who in general have refused to recognise them. TICA accepts the breed.
The sausage cat suffers from a genetic mutation causing dwarfism. This dwarfism looks cute on a cat. It does not look cute on humans. One UK vet, Andrew Prentis of Hyde Park, London, says that it is cruel to breed cats that can not jump or run properly. I accept his point. However, dwarf breeders and owners will testify to the fact that dwarf cats can jump very nicely. TICA’s introduction to the breed is:
“The racy, low-slung Munchkin is built for speed and agility….”
There is, though, an inbuilt human desire to reject dwarf cats because the concept spoils the natural beauty of the feline anatomy which is so elegant and athletic. Also the breeding of sausage cats, as for all other purebred cats, is for cosmetic reasons. It is all about appearance at the expense of health.
In the UK the Munchkin can be bought for £600 to £900. As is the case for most other cat associations the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF), the largest cat registry in the Britain does not recognise the breed.
Rosemary Fisher, a director of the GCCF) said:
“Munchkins have a range of potential physical problems. Some, for example, suffer from lordosis, a condition in which spinal muscles grow too short, causing the spine to arch inwards. This may cause early death in kittens or shortness of breath during physical exertion.”
I have a full page on dwarf cat health problems in which I cover all the ground on this topic. Breeders would probably say that the online media and vets are exaggerating. There are potential health problems but there are many healthy and happy dwarf cats. This would be their argument.
The sausage cat is an American invention. The mutation was spotted in Louisiana in 1983. The cats were Munchkins. I have a page on the history of dwarf cats focusing on the interesting names.
See Munchkin quick guide.