Munchkin Breed Information
The munchkin is a relatively new breed created by a mutation that causes achondroplasia, or possibly hypochondroplasia, resulting in
cats with abnormally short legs. The
breed originated in 1983 when Sandra Hochenedel found an extremely
short-legged black cat living under a trailer in Louisiana. This cat, named Blackberry, was
pregnant and half of her kittens were born short-legged. One of
Blackberry's kittens, a tomcat named
Toulouse, became the father of a breeding program that established
the breed in North America.
1. Advocates and critics
There is much controversy among breeders of pedigree cats as to what genetic mutations are abnormal and potentially disadvantageous to the cat. At one extreme, some governments consider the munchkin breed to be simply "malformed animals" and the deliberate breeding of them "unacceptable" because of the "genetic health problems associated with such breeding". But keepers and breeders of munchkins declare them to be "a sound breed" that is "ideal" for small homes and not particularly susceptible to health problems.
While some cat registries have recognised the breed, others have not, including the world's largest cat fancy, the Fédération Internationale Féline, which refuses to recognise what they consider a breed based on a "genetic disease", achondroplasia. The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy likewise refuses to recognise the breed, considering this breed and others like it to be "unacceptable" because they are based on an "abnormal structure or development". The breed is also not recognized by the Cat Fanciers' Association.
On the other hand, among the cat fancies that recognise the breed are The International Cat Association (though this has been criticised by some senior members of the Association), the Southern Africa Cat Council, and the Waratah National Cat Alliance in Australia.
Although the genetic abnormality causing the short-legged trait in munchkin cats is often called achondroplasia, it has not yet been demonstrated that the trait is due to a gene at the same locus as causing achondroplasia in humans. Furthermore, while achondroplasia is typically associated with an enlarged head as well as short legs, a combination of features not seen in munchkin cats, the condition has sometimes been referred to as hypochondroplasia instead.
As well as shorter limbs, munchkin cats are more prone to lordosis and pectus excavatum than other cats. Small litter sizes when two munchkin cats are crossed indicate that embryos that are homozygous for the munchkin gene are non-viable.
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