These Seemingly Adorable ‘Munchkin’ Cats Come With A Dark Past And Sad Future

With their adorable legs come so not-so-cute health problems.

Credit: Vet Street

Photos of adorable cats with very short legs go viral almost daily, with some cats having their own Instagram accounts with hordes of followers. The cats, which are affectionately called ‘munchkin’ cats, have tiny legs and the origins of such legs are actually pretty sad.

Their legs derive from a genetic mutation that causes the short length, which is a variation of dwarfism in cats, and the popularity of such cats is causing breeders to specifically breed cats with those mutations. This might not be a problem, as other breeders regularly put together other cats and dogs based on genes, except that this genetic mutation comes with a slew of health issues for the poor cats.

Most of the health problems stem from bone deformities all over their bodies, as Dr. Carol Margolis, a veterinarian and lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, explained to The Dodo:

“As far as what we know, the inappropriate bone formation absolutely leads to abnormal loading, which predisposes them to osteoarthritis.They can have spinal malformations, lordosis and scoliosis…and they can be born with rib abnormalities.”

Credit: Kitten-Kaboom/Tumblr

Not only are these deformities extremely painful to live with, but they can cause even more severe health issues down the line because they can affect the cat’s organs. Moreover, these types of cats are unable to jump like a normal cat does, but experts are unsure of the exact cause of this. Dr. Margolis said, 

“Many of the descriptions of these cats is that they cannot jump due to their deformities, but the question is: Is it that they cannot jump, or they will not jump because their deformities are so painful?”

Either way, it seems like a pretty sad existence. Cats’ personalities and amusement are practically rooted in their ability to move and jump at will, something these munchkin cats cannot experience. That being said, there are a number of these cats that still have a wholesome, fun life with loving humans. While not every munchkin cat is guaranteed to have debilitating health problems, their rising popularity means even more will be bred to have these mutations and, with it, a high likelihood of leading a painful life.

Credit: Cat’s Place

Since it is so risky breeding these cats, their “breed” is not yet officially recognized by the Cat Fanciers’ Association and Katie Lisnik, director of cat protection and policy at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) told The Dodo why that is:

“Breeding animals for exaggerated physical characteristics, particularly when it compromises overall health, is irresponsible. Breeders should place the long-term health and welfare of their breeding animals and offspring above their efforts to win shows and garner fees.”

Munchkin kittens run from a few hundred dollars to well over a thousand, which is pretty steep when considering the potential vet bills an owner might face with such an unhealthy cat. The best way to stem the continuous breeding of munchkin cats is to educate yourself, resist sharing any videos or photos of them, and rescue a cat from your local shelter rather than buying a munchkin kitten from a breeder. Rescuing is the best way to help with pet overpopulation and reduce the number of animals that are euthanized each year.

What are your thoughts on munchkin cats? Please share, like, and comment on this article!

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