Despite the Munchkin cat being known for its diminutive stature, you might be surprised to learn that Munchkin cats are actually still considered to be medium-sized breeds, as their upper body is still the same size as your standard domestic housecat.
As a result of the highly specific nature of Munchkin cat breeding, their exact height tends to have a lot more variability than most other cat breeds. However, there is a lot of information regarding Munchkin growth and average sizes that will help us get a better understanding of just how big we can expect a Munchkin cat to grow.
The Size of a Full Grown Munchkin Cat
As a general rule of thumb, most Munchkin cats are going to be at least two inches shorter than most standard-sized cats. This is not including breeds that are considerably larger than others, such as the Maine Coon or the Norwegian Forest Cat.
So, just how big is a full grown Munchkin cat?
A Munchkin cat’s height will usually range from five to nine inches tall, compared to the “standard” cat height of about 10 inches to the shoulder. Munchkin cats also typically weigh somewhere between six and nine pounds.
The “trunk” of the cat, or the torso between the head and tail is about the same size as your standard cat. It has roughly the same thickness and proportions as standard cats, which is what gives Munchkin cats such an elongated appearance.
Their legs, however, are not proportional to their trunk which is what gives them their Munchkin appearance and the nickname of “sausage cats.” (similar to a Dachshund in the canine family)
This is also why Munchkin cats are not technically considered “dwarf cats” because of how proportionate the rest of the cat is.
Likewise, their heads will be about the same size and proportion as any other standard cat, typically taking after some of the traits of the outcrossed parent cat. The tail will also depend on the outcrossed parent cat, but it is also typically proportional.
The Length of Munchkin Cats’ Legs
Some Munchkin breeders try to focus on getting the shortest legs possible, and while controversial, it leads to the given name of “rug-hugger” leg length.
As you can imagine, cats with this leg length tend to “hug the rug” with their chest fur. This leg length for Munchkin cats is one of the most popular because of the inherent cuteness of their appearance, although you will need to be more mindful of making sure the Munchkin grows up to be healthy.
The second shortest leg length is given the name of “super-short.” These cats are typically about two to three inches shorter than your standard cat size, referring back to the typical 10-inch height that most medium cat breeds are.
Much like the category above, there isn’t necessarily a consensus on what height designates a cat to be in the “super-short” category. Chances are that if it is noticeably shorter than a typical cat but not quite hugging the rug, it will fall into this category. This is also the size that most people think of when they first think of a Munchkin cat.
Finally, there is the size designated as “standard.” The name of this size can be quite deceiving, as you may not know whether the standard refers to a regular cat’s size or to a Munchkin cat’s size.
This category is one where the lines are blurred the most, as these are the cats that may or may not have inherited the gene strong enough for them to pass down to potential kittens. This leg length will range from leaving the cat slightly shorter than the standard cat height to being around two inches shorter.
Some breeders will often use centimeters to measure these limbs because of how specific breeding guidelines can get.
There is also some question as to whether or not a cat in this category truly counts as a standard-length Munchkin or if it should be considered a “non-standard” Munchkin and is typically left up to the breeder’s discretion. After all, it’s pretty hard to determine how tall a cat is going to be when it is just a kitten and hasn’t grown into its full body yet.
What Makes Munchkin Cats Different?
To breed a Munchkin cat, breeders focus on a specific genetic mutation that is responsible for the shortened legs. Researchers have found that the gene that causes this in cats is quite similar to the same gene that gives Corgis and Dachshunds their height and stature as well.
In cats, this gene is known to be a heterozygous dominant gene. This means that there only needs to be one copy of the gene from one parent for the cat to be affected by it.
In fact, when there are two copies of the gene, an embryo cannot gestate and it either dies in utero or won’t survive long after birth.
In order to successfully breed a Munchkin, breeders must introduce a breed of cat to the gene pool which does not share this specific gene.
In breeding terminology, this is known as outcrossed, since you are taking a cat that is outside of the crossbred cats for pure breeding purposes. By show standards, the cat that is outcrossed cannot belong to any recognized breed, so it is typically a mutt cat.
Even though the Munchkin cat has the copy of the gene that will give it its shortened legs, it will also have genetic information from the other parent cat that will not be nearly as fine-tuned.
This is what leads to the wide variation in coats, temperaments, colors, and sizes of Munchkin cats and it is one of the aspects of the breed that makes it more unique than any other purebred cat.
Generally, all Munchkin cats will fall into a range of heights, although this range of height will be a fair bit larger than the standard size ranges for other purebred designer cat breeds.