Cat Dwarfism vs Munchkin Cats
Cat Breed

Cat Dwarfism vs Munchkin Cats

Miniature cats are often the primary choice of first-time pet parents. Why is that? Because these darling cats are adorable. Yet, before making the choice to adopt or buy one, it is very important to learn to distinguish between a little munchkin cat and a dwarf cat. This is critical since it determines how to care for the cat and what not to do when you own a small cat.

What Is Cat Dwarfism?

Cat dwarfism refers to an animal's shortened legs and other hereditary characteristics. There are distinctions between cats born with dwarfism and breeds like Munchkin cats, who are purposely developed to be short-legged. Cat dwarfism vs munchkin breeds mainly means one is generic while the other is bred this way. According to PetMD, feline dwarfism impairs the kitten's natural behaviors of leaping and playing giving them a low quality of life.

Common Breeds Affected by Dwarfism

You’ll find that mini cats like Munchkins, Scottish Folds, and Persians sometimes have natural dwarfism. These cats can have shorter legs as part of their genetic makeup.

Types of Dwarfism in Cats

Like all disorders, there are a few types of dwarfism in felines. Having dwarfism, a cat can suffer from different types of this condition. Each has its own effects on their tiny bodies.


This is a category of dwarfism in cats where their bones and cartilage fail to develop properly or fully. The result is cats with short limbs who have spine and skull related issues. Difficulty moving around due to stiff joints is also common with this type of dwarfism.


Hypochondroplasia is a milder form of the disorder. These cats have shorter legs but their bodies are more proportionate. They usually don’t have as many health problems as cats with more severe forms of dwarfism.

Other Types

There are other, less common types of dwarfism in cats. These can vary a lot in how they affect the cat and are usually identified through genetic testing by a vet. You can also buy a cat DNA test online. Today you can even find pet tests for Whole Genome Sequencing that decode 100% of the genome and let you have access to all of your cat’s genomic data.

What Are Munchkin Cats?

They have been bred for years mainly for their short legs. They are also very playful and active, qualities that contradict their short stature. Those short legs can lead to some of the same health issues seen in cats with natural dwarfism.

Genetics of Munchkin Cats

Short legs that are an identifying marker in Munchkin cats are a result of genetic mutation.  This mutation has a negative impact on how their bones grow. The gene that causes these short legs is dominant. So if a cat has one copy of this gene then they will definitely have short limbs. Dwarfism gene is also accountable for skeletal problems in felines. It is advisable for breeders to exercise caution when mating Munchkin cats. If not, the cat may develop health issues that last a lifetime.

How to Diagnose Dwarfism in Cats?

Two factors are effective in deciding if your kitty has dwarfism: a physical exam and some genetic tests. They look for signs like short limbs and other bone abnormalities. Genetic tests can show specific mutations in the genes. These then help in diagnosing the type of dwarfism and plan for their care.

How to Treat Dwarfism in Cats?

You can’t cure dwarfism but you can always treat the symptoms and keep the midget cat comfortable. This might mean pain meds for joint problems, physical therapy to help them move, and regular check-ups. Sometimes, surgery might be needed for serious bone issues.

How to Care for a Cat With Dwarfism?

Taking care of a dwarf cat is not that difficult at all. It just means that you have to make their environment safe and as comfortable as possible. You can always consider inserting ramps or steps so that they can reach high places without jumping.

For ease of access, the sides of their litter box should be low. Proper food helps them maintain a healthy weight and routine veterinary checkups are essential for monitoring their health. Healthy weight is easier on their joints.

As an VCA Animal Hospitals article explains, pets like Munchkin cats have shorter limbs so they may require supplementary veterinary care and changes to their exercise routines.


Knowing the answer to the cat dwarfism vs munchkin cats question can help you give them the finest care possible. You need to learn what you can about their health challenges and give them the attention they need. With a little love and affection, anyone can give these little cats a great life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can cats have dwarfism?

Cats can have dwarfism. It is a genetic condition that modifies their bone and cartilage growth.

Most advanced cat DNA test

Use genetics to understand what makes your cat unique

  • Breed composition 

  • Health genetic markers 

  • Oral Health report

Learn More
two kittens with DNA health insights