The Small Cat Breeds of the World
A number of small cat breeds exist and can be broken down into different groups - the dwarf cats, the miniature cats and the teacup cats. These cats are sometimes referred to as "pocket cats" or "toy cats."
Dwarfism is usually due to an endocrine malfunction (the endocrine system is instrumental in regulating metabolism and growth) and a combination of genetic factors. The name is used to describe conditions that result in undersized individuals.
Dwarf cats and miniature cats are a very controversial issue, and there are people who oppose the breeding of these cats, saying that it is cruel to breed cats with a deformity just because there is a demand for these cats. There are unscrupulous breeders who will try to sell a small cat as a miniature cat.
A genuine miniature cat or dwarf cat will have been selectively bred and will be of small size consistently. These breeders would also have ensured that their cats are healthy and will be very picky when it comes to selling a cat or a kitten. Reputable breeders avoid inbreeding which will lead to health issues.
The Munchkin is a small to medium sized cat and can weigh between 5 and 9 pounds when fully grown. Due to a natural mutation that shortens the long leg bones this small breed of cat has a short stature.
In September 1994 TICA accepted the Munchkin into their new breed development program. Although the Munchkin has short legs, it does not stop it from being an active, playful cat that likes to run. The only limitation is that this small breed cat cannot jump like its long-legged counterparts. The Munchkin is the founding breed of the dwarf cats.
Currently this dwarf breed of cat is classified by TICA as a preliminary new breed. The Minskin has hair on its face, ears, nose, legs and tail with the body having a sparse cover of hair. The Minskin is an affectionate, loyal, intelligent and very playful small breed cat.
(Photo of Minskin cat by Paul McSorley)
The Lambkin is a cross-breeding between a Selkirk Rex and a Munchkin. The result is a small cat breed with a very curly coat. The Lambkin is currently registered with TICA as a new breed.
The Bambino is a cross-breed between the Sphynx and the Munchkin.
This small cat breed was created only in 2005 and is therefore also considered to be a new and rare breed of dwarf cat. The Bambino is short-legged with a hairless body. This small cat breed is affectionate and people-orientated and is also very playful and agile.
This dwarf cat is a result of the cross breeding between an American Curl and a Munchkin.
The Kinkalow is a small cat with the typical curled back ears of the American Curl cat breed. This small cat breed is registered with TICA as an experimental breed.
This dwarf cat is a cross between a Persian and a Munchkin. This new breed is not yet registered with any associations. The Napoleon is short-legged with long, silky fur and big eyes.
This small breed of cat is a cross between the Munchkin and the LaPerm cat breed with the result being a short legged cat with a curly coat. This rare breed of cat is registered with the Dwarf Cat Association and TICA as an experimental breed.
(Skookum cat owned by Beth Fillman)
The Dwelf cat is a hybrid cat, a result of a cross between the Munchkin, the American Curl and the Sphynx. There is only an artist's drawing available of this cat.
Teacup Cats and Miniature Cats
Miniature cats are normally about half the size of normal sized cats of the same breed and it is their appearance that make them so popular with people. What should be remembered is that not all small cat breeds are miniature cats.
The Singapura is the smallest cat of the registered cat breeds, but does not qualify as a miniature cat. Teacup cats are available in a variety of breeds and are simply put, small miniature cats. These small cat breeds are usually only about 9 inches high when they are mature.
It should be noted that teacup cats and miniature cats are not recognized cat breeds. Due to their size, teacup kittens are extremely vulnerable and it is rare that you will find a breeder that will let you purchase a kitten before it is between 5-6 months old. Some breeders try to sell small cats as miniature cats or teacup cats, but a real teacup cat or kitten would be bred specifically with the miniature traits of the specific cat.
The difference between a teacup cat and a dwarf cat is the legs - a dwarf cat has the typical short legged stature whilst the teacup cat is just a miniature cat of a specific breed. Teacup cats should only be purchased through registered breeders to ensure that you are getting a cat or kitten that has not been inbred and has health issues.
(American Curl and Persian photos courtesy of www.i-love-cats.com)