Short-legged and Smaller Cat Breeds

Picture of a munchkin cat

Short-legged and smaller breeds of cats can run, jump and climb just as well as other breeds of cats that have average-sized legs. Often originating due to a genetic mutation, then specifically bred to be smaller than usual, there are many breeds of adorable cats that have shorter legs than normal or are more diminutive than “normal” cats. These smaller and shorter-legged cats can be controversial, with some cat associations not recognizing certain breeds due to health and ethical concerns. This doesn’t make them any less  cute or cuddly or less worthy of becoming a member of your family (maybe more, if you like smaller cats). Whether you call them small, midget, dwarf, or sausage cats, these tinier kitties are definitely popular and cute. Here, we will discuss some of them.

First, let’s look at some adorable shorter-legged cats:

Bambino Cat

This one-of-a-kind cat breed is hairless and short-legged. It originates from the Sphynx and Munchkin cat breeds. The Bambino carries a fearless, loving personality, enjoying running, jumping, climbing, playing, and sharing affection with its family. The International Cat Association (TICA) has recognized the Bambino as an experimental cat breed. The Bambino can be described as a fearless smaller breed of feline.

Munchkin Cat

The Munchkin cat is a fairly modern breed, first recognized by TICA in 1995. It originates from cat breeders in Louisiana who bred short-legged cats, and later had them tested, discovering that an autosomal dominant gene caused their legs to be shorter than normal. Although some worry that the Munchkin cat will not be a hearty breed, with back, leg and hip problems due to the shortness of its legs, they are mostly healthy, active, outgoing cats who can run very fast.

Napoleon or Minuet Cat

This breed is named after the French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte, a short man who, ironically, had ailurophobia (fear of cats). This breed was created by crossing a Munchkin cat with a long-haired Persian cat. You can tell a Napoleon from its round face with round eyes, straight broad nose, and long-haired or short plush coat in a variety of colors and patterns. One of the health problems common to Napoleon cats is polycystic kidney disease (inherited from the Persian cat). It is a playful cat perfect for families with kids. The Napoleon is recognized by the Cat Fanciers Federation (CFF), and known as Minuet by TICA. It is not recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA), American Cat Fanciers Association (ACFA), or Federation Internationale Feline (FIFe), however.

Skookum Cat

Also known as the Shirley Temple of cat breeds (because they are so tiny and sweet, with curly hair, like America’s sweetheart), the Skookum cat is the result of an experimental hybrid cross of a Dwarf Munchkin cat and Curly La Perm cat. These cats are much smaller than normal cats, with females weighing three to five pounds, and males between five and seven pounds. It has a curly coat with a variety of colors and patterns. The front legs of a Skookum cat are shorter than its back legs. It also has a long, plumed tail with a rounded tip, resembling a pom pom. The Skookum is known to be playful, affectionate and intelligent, and great with children. Because of its curly coat, owners must brush the Skookum daily. The Skookum is recognized as an experimental breed by Independent European Registries, the Dwarf Cat Association and the New Zealand Cat Registry. It has also been accepted by TICA as an experimental breed but its name has not yet been approved there.

Lambkin Cat

The Lambkin cat is not recognized by many major cat associations, as it is considered to be an experimental breed. It is a cross between a Munchkin and a Selkirk Rex. The result is a tiny, soft and pretty, and quite rare breed of cat that is sometimes referred to as a Nanus Rex. It has a plush, curly coat that resembles wool, and a long, curved, fluffy tail. Its curly coat means that the Lambkin will need brushing every day. Unfortunately, Lambkins are prone to many health problems, such as chest and spine deformation and issues resulting from this. The Lambkin has been recognized by the Dwarf Cat Association and the New Zealand Cat Registry.

Minskin Cat

The Minskin is the result of a mixture of the Sphynx, Devon Rex, Burmese and Munchkin. It is a “mini-cat,” quite small, that can be born with or without fur. Its tail is much longer than its body, and it has big eyes and huge ears. Despite its diminutive size, the Minskin has few health problems. It must be groomed weekly, especially if hairless (requiring weekly bathing). The Minskin is ideal for families with kids and other pets, as it gets along well with both. The Minskin is recognized by TICA but not by the CFA.

Dwelf Cat

The Dwelf is a mixture of the Munchkin, American Curl and Sphynx breeds. It carries elf-like features (like curly ears) and is not entirely hairless, like the Sphynx, but rather, has peach fuzz all over its body. The Dwelf has front legs that are shorter than its back legs, and in adulthood, weighs just four pounds. While Dwelfs are generally healthy, they are prone to skeletal problems, such as curvature of the spine, than can lead to heart and breathing problems. They must be kept indoors, away from the sun that could burn their skin, and bathed weekly to keep their skin clean and oil-free. Dwelfs are playful and great for families with or without kids. The Dwelf is recognized by the Dwarf Cat Association.

Kinkalow Cat

This rare breed of cat is the result of a cross between the American Curl and Munchkin breeds. It has curly ears like the American Curl and short legs like the Munchkin. In addition, it has a long, straight tail. At adulthood, the Kinkalow weighs between three and seven pounds. It is playful, affectionate, and perfect for families with kids. The Kinkalow is known as an experimental breed in TICA and has been recognized by the Dwarf Cat Association.

Now, let’s examine some cats who are smaller in stature but big on adorability:

Singapura Cat

A native of Singapore, the Singapura is the smallest known breed of cat in the world, with an adult weight that was once recorded to be as low as 2 pounds. It has a small, muscular frame and is agile, loving to play and get into mischief. It is also known in Singapore as Kucinta, the Love Cat. In 1991, the Singapore government placed statues of the cats along the Singapore River and featured the breed in its promotional literature.

Cornish Rex

The Cornish Rex breed is a smaller breed that can be identified by its unusual coat. Because it is covered with down all over its body, its coat is very soft. It weighs from 5 to 8 lbs. at adulthood. It is hypoallergenic and good for some people who are allergic to cats.

Devon Rex

The Devon Rex is also smaller than normal cats, and, like the Cornish Rex, its coat consists of down, making it quite soft. At adulthood, this cat weighs between 5 and 8 lbs. It has a small frame and can be a good cat for those who are allergic to felines.

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Susan Maphis

Susan Maphis

Susan Maphis lives in the northeastern corner of Maryland with her husband, daughter, dog (Lenore) and cat (Tabby). She has been a freelance writer and editor for over 20 years. Her work includes academic pieces, news and feature writing, blogging, briefs, educational writing, and reviews.

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