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Home > Cats > Cat Breeds > Munchkin Tabby Cat: History, Pictures, Facts & More

Munchkin Tabby Cat: History, Pictures, Facts & More

orange and white tabby munchkin kitten

The Tabby cat is one of the most recognizable cats with stripes that make it look like a tiny tiger. For an even tinier tiger, however, there’s the Munchkin Tabby. Munchkin Tabbies look like other Tabbies but have tiny legs. Although they’re cute, their tiny legs can cause health issues, including chronic pain. Read on to learn more and decide whether a Munchkin Tabby is for you.

Breed Overview


5–7 inches


6–9 pounds


12–15 years


White, black, red/orange, blue/gray, lilac, cinnamon, fawn, lavender/silver, cream/beige, tan, sable

Suitable for:

Most families with older children, singles, apartments


Friendly, spunky, sociable, lively, extroverted

The Munchkin Tabby displays several desirable traits. They’re highly social with other cats, dogs, and people and stay “young” well past the age when most cats calm down. They’re known to be jumpers despite their small stature and are easy to train because of their high level of intelligence. You’ll find they don’t need too much interaction and will play happily on their own with a toy or with another cat.

Munchkin Tabby Cat Breed Characteristics

High-energy cat will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy cats require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a cat to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train cats are more willing and skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Cats that are harder to train are usually more stubborn and will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some cat breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every cat will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds' potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some cat breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other animals. More social cats have a tendency to rub up on strangers for scratches, while less social cats shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your cat and expose them to lots of different situations.


The Earliest Records of Munchkin Tabby Cats in History

Although the “munchkin” type of cat has been around since the 1940s, 1983 was the first time a Munchkin mutation appeared and, more importantly, was used to breed more Munchkin cats. As for Munchkin Tabbies, it’s extremely difficult to determine when they were first seen.

As you might know, the coat pattern gives the Tabby and Munchkin Tabby their names and is not a breed. In short, determining when a cat with a Tabby coat plus the munchkin mutation first arrived on the scene is almost impossible. A good guess is sometime between 1983 and now.

How Munchkin Tabby Cats Gained Popularity

As mentioned, Munchkin cats started being bred specifically for their short legs in 1983. However, it wasn’t until 1991 that the cats began to attract a lot of attention. However, their fame came with a bit of controversy, as breeding two Munchkin cats together usually causes the resulting kittens to be disfigured. Munchkin and “normal” cats are usually mated, which significantly reduces the chance of kittens being born with severe congenital issues.

tabby munchkin kitten
Image By: MDavidova, Shutterstock

Formal Recognition of Munchkin Tabby Cats

Although they’ve been around for several decades, it wasn’t until 1994, after much debate, that The International Cat Association (TICA) gave Munchkin Tabby Cats formal recognition. In 2002, the first Munchkin Tabby was awarded championship status by the organization.

Sadly, TICA is the only cat association that currently recognizes this designer breed, mostly due to the health concerns. There is no other association in the U.S. or any other country that recognizes the breed at this time.


Top 6 Unique Facts About Munchkin Tabby Cats

1. Munchkin Tabbies Can’t Jump as High as Other Cats

Not surprisingly, the shortness of their rear legs is the reason. They can jump, just not as high as cats with regular-sized legs.

tabby muchkin kitten playing
Image By: MDavidova, Shutterstock

2. Munchkin Tabbies Have More Digestive Problems Than Other Cats

Veterinarians aren’t sure why but believe it is due to their short legs interfering with their digestive system.

3. One of the Most Famous Munchkin Cats Is “Grumpy Cat”

If you’ve ever seen or heard of Grumpy Cat, you know what a Munchkin cat looks like, more or less.

4. A Munchkin Cat with Very Short Legs Is Known as a “Rug Hugger”

The rug hugger is saved for the cats with the shortest legs. Munchkins with longer short legs are known as “super-short.”

yellow tabby munchkin cat
Image By: Phannasit, Shutterstock

5. Munchkin Tabbies Can Have Regular-Sized Legs

Because Munchkin Tabbies are bred with regular cats to reduce joint issues, some are born with regular-sized legs.

6. Munchkin Cats Are Often Called the “Original Dwarf Cats”

Some cat historians believe the first Munchkin cat might have been a dwarf cat. Dwarf cats and munchkin cats have enough differences, however, that they aren’t considered the same by breeders and veterinarians.


Do Munchkin Tabby Cats Make a Good Pet?

It’s well known that Munchkin Tabby cats make wonderful pets and fantastic companions. There are several reasons, including their playful personalities, willingness to be around people, and adaptability to households with other pets. Most are very open with strangers and will allow almost anyone to pet them. Indeed, your Munchkin Tabby will likely seek out your friends and family for a good petting session.

Munchkin Tabbies make wonderful family pets and are great for singles, seniors, and those who live in small spaces like apartments. Since they get along well with other pets, bringing a Munchkin Tabby into a home with existing pets is also less risky.


Final Thoughts

The Munchkin Tabby cat, like other Munchkin cats, is cute, lovable, and makes an outstanding pet. If they’re bred with care, the possibility that your Munchkin Tabby will be born with genetic issues will be much lower.

Still, genetic complications (and the problems they cause) are possible since Munchkin cats have shorter legs due to a genetic anomaly. Therefore, seeking out a caring and compassionate breeder is critical if you wish to adopt one of these tiny cats. That will give you the best chance of adopting one that will live a long, healthy life.

Featured Image Credit: MDavidova, Shutterstock

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