The Munchkin cat is an outgoing, confident cat with a lot of energy to burn, but at the end of the day, they love nothing more than curling up on the lap of their favorite human. They’re known best for their short, stubby legs, which have caused some controversy.
There aren’t any health risks linked to the Munchkin’s leg mutation, but this has been attributed to the fact that this breed is relatively new, which means there is still a lot for experts to learn. We want the best for our pets, allowing them to live full, healthy, and happy lives. Below, we’re going to look at everything that could affect a Munchkin’s lifespan to give you a better understanding of why one Munchkin might live longer than another.
What’s the Average Lifespan of a Munchkin Cat?
Munchkins are known to be generally healthy, and they have an expected lifespan of 12–15 years. Breeding them is controversial, so the big question is, are Munchkins more unhealthy than other cat breeds? The answer to this question depends very much on who you ask. While Munchkins are technically a new breed, they have been around since about the 1940s, although they weren’t bred on purpose until after 1983.
Some Munchkins have been known to suffer from some health conditions (which we’ll discuss soon). And there’s an argument to be made about how ethical it is to breed a deformity on purpose, which can result in decreased mobility and an increased risk of joint disease. But with an average lifespan of 12–15 years, while the average life expectancy of a cat is 10–15 years, it’s clear the Munchkin’s genetic deformity doesn’t necessarily negatively impact its ability to lead a long, healthy life.
The 7 Reasons Why Munchkin Cats Live Longer Than Others
Getting a pet is a big decision, and the main reason is that so many factors go into making sure your pet is happy and healthy. We’re going to look at some of these factors below.
Munchkin cats don’t have special dietary needs specific to their breed. So, just like any cat, they need a high-quality diet that considers their ideal weight and size and meets their nutritional requirements. They benefit from food with an animal-based protein as the main ingredient. This will promote healthy growth and sustains their energy levels.
If you are ever concerned about your Munchkin’s diet, speak to your vet before you make any changes.
2. Environment and Housing
Munchkin cats have a lot of energy to burn. They enjoy and need exercise and play. Their short legs don’t slow them down, and they can move much faster than you might think.
They aren’t the best jumpers, so they may require help because they’ll expend lots of energy trying. A stool by the bed or couch will help them to climb up and down safely. You’ll need to get a litter box and bed with low sides. A cat tree will help with their climbing and jumping but must be tailored to their short stature.
Munchkin cats are medium-sized cats and don’t require much space, but they need certain additions to their environment that another cat would not need. But whatever your living situation, the Munchkin will fit into it.
3. Health Conditions
While there is still much to learn about the health of Munchkin cats, there are conditions they are more prone to. And, of course, Munchkins are just as prone to the health conditions that plague other cat breeds. But there are, arguably, conditions that Munchkins are more prone to.
There is a condition, for example, that is characterized as the curving of a cat’s spine in its lower back called lordosis. Munchkin kittens are susceptible to this condition, and the treatment is similar to that of scoliosis.
Munchkins are also prone to osteoarthritis. Because the limb bones of the cat fail to grow normally, it compromises the cat’s ability to jump and could possibly result in joint disease.
4. Breeding History
Breeding these cats involves mating one Munchkin (male or female, as the mutation isn’t sex-selective) to a cat without the mutation. As the mutation is dominant, this will result in a litter of Munchkins.
However, the mutation is fatal when two Munchkins are bred together, which is why Munchkin breeding is so controversial. Therefore, when thinking of getting a Munchkin, you must pick a reputable breeder to ensure the cat does not have preexisting conditions.
The grooming needs of your Munchkin will depend on their coat style. Short-haired Munchkins will need to be brushed weekly, while long-haired Munchkins will need to be brushed more frequently to avoid tangles. While your Munchkin will clean itself, its limited leg reach will make this a little harder, so you may need to help them. And just like other cats, ensure their ears are cleaned, and their nails are trimmed.
Munchkin cats don’t need much when it comes to human-guided exercise. They love to play and run during the day, and they will tend to exhaust themselves. To ensure your cat can do this, you will need to provide them with toys and, as we’ve already mentioned, a low-to-the-ground cat tree and scratchers.
7. Family Life
The Munchkin cat is easygoing and intelligent and tends to get along with other cats, dogs, and small children. Your Munchkin will fit into any living situation, but they require lots of love and attention to be happy.
They are social butterflies and love nothing more than curling up with you after a long day of playing. These cats can also be trained to fetch and walk on a leash. Early socialization will help your Munchkin kitten feel secure.
The 3 Life Stages of a Munchkin Cat
Munchkin cats grow the most in the first few months of life. By the time they reach their first birthday, they are unlikely to grow or gain more weight. If they do, they are at risk of becoming overweight, which you need to address to ensure they are healthy.
A healthy diet and exercise are vital for each stage, and what your cat requires from their diet will change as they grow and mature.
1. Kitten and Young Adult
Like all growing cats, your Munchkin kitten and young adult will need a complete and balanced diet that provides the nutrients required to grow into a healthy, mature cat.
They need a diet promoting strong bones, muscles, and a healthy heart. When your kitten reaches adulthood after 1 year, you’ll have to transition their food to an adult recipe that contains fewer calories and less fat.
Munchkin cats don’t tend to grow over 10 pounds, and thanks to their short height, they can often be mistaken for kittens. Your cat should be active, and if you have provided the right environment for your Munchkin, they will have the perfect space to burn off their energy.
When your cat is 6 or 7 years old, you’ll need to transition to a senior formula with more vitamins and minerals and less fat.
As your cat grows older, the health risks increase. They inevitably slow down, and the chances of developing osteoarthritis, for example, increase, especially if they put on weight. Giving your cat a treat is fine, but they should be limited to 10 percent of their diet. Your Munchkin will still require high-quality protein sources, controlled fat levels, and easy-to-digest carbohydrates.
How to Tell Your Munchkin Cat’s Age in 3 Steps
If you have ever adopted a cat, you’ll know how difficult it can be to determine their age by just looking at them. And if your cat is a Munchkin cat, which is regularly mistaken for kittens well into adulthood, it’s more challenging to estimate the cat’s age. However, there are ways to figure out how old your cat is without knowing it since it was a kitten.
1. Teeth and Weight
The younger the cat, the easier it will be for your veterinarian to determine their date of birth. The size of your cat’s teeth is particularly useful in pinpointing age and the general wear and tear on their teeth, as more would suggest the cat is older. Weight is also a good indicator; however, it isn’t foolproof. If your kitten is in poor health, their weight will not be a reliable indicator.
2. Check Their Eyes
Healthy kittens and young cats will have clear, bright eyes. In their later years, your Munchkin might develop a cloudy appearance in their eyes, including discharge and tearing. This only happens once the cat is about 10 years old. Cats beyond this age will show changes to the iris, which might develop a wavy edge or not open and close like it should when exposed to light.
3. Assess Their Grooming Habits
While Munchkins might require some help with their grooming, they will still do most of it themselves. However, once they reach a certain age, this might change. Sometimes a cat will stop grooming for reasons that have nothing to do with age, like dental issues that cause pain. They could also put on weight, which would make it harder to reach certain spots.
Munchkin cats are still relatively new on the scene, but we have some helpful information when it comes to keeping them happy and healthy, and it’s about more than just one aspect of their care. When picking a kitten, the breeder is important, especially when considering the controversy surrounding the breeding process. Munchkins stay small, which means they will need things from their environment that other cats don’t, like stools or low-to-the-ground entrances to their cat trees.
Like any other cat, Munchkins require high-quality diets to support them as kittens throughout their senior years. This will promote overall health and give them the energy they need to play and explore. And more than that, Munchkins need the love and attention of their humans, so families that are out of the house a lot will not be a suitable match for a Munchkin.
Featured Image Credit: Anciens Huang, Shutterstock
- What’s the Average Lifespan of a Munchkin Cat?
- The 7 Reasons Why Munchkin Cats Live Longer Than Others
- The 3 Life Stages of a Munchkin Cat
- How to Tell Your Munchkin Cat’s Age in 3 Steps