These cat breeds are not only banned from sale, but also from breeding – here’s why
Hangai Lilla, 2023. June 2 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary
To create teacup, miniature and dwarf cats, breeders have to make serious compromises in terms of health. We are engaging in a very dangerous game if we focus exclusively on external characteristics during breeding. These cats are undeniably cute, and of course it's never the animal's fault that it was born into a certain body, but as responsible pet owners, we have to think about the consequences.
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In the following, we will show you everything you need to know about the health and breeding of teacup, miniature and dwarf cats.
What are teacup cats?
The teacup cat is not a separate breed; it is called this when any breed is bred to the smallest possible size. While an average cat weighs 4-5 kg, these kittens do not weigh more than 2.5-3 kg as adults. This is achieved by mating an undersized male with a female. The smallest individuals are consistently selected from each generation to gradually reduce the size of the breed. But it also happens that these cats remain so small as a result of a spontaneous mutation. All their external characteristics except for size remain, so as a result of this mutation they will be proportionally smaller.
What are miniature cats?
The increased interest in miniature cats allows irresponsible breeders to charge higher prices for the undersized individuals appearing in the litter. True miniature cats come from breeding lines where size characteristics have been controlled or manipulated through selective breeding, as described in the case of teacup cats. There is a size difference between teacup and miniature cats. While miniatures are proportionally smaller than their regular counterparts, they are not as tiny as teacups. Their size is roughly half that of an average cat.
What are dwarf cats?
Looking at the body proportions of dwarf cats, their torso is longer and their legs are shorter. Similar in structure to corgis or dachshunds, dwarfism is caused by a genetic mutation. The Munchkin breed was crossed with several normal-sized breeds, resulting in changes in size and proportions, but their unique external characteristics remained. According to the Dwarf Cat Association, the main such breeds are:
- Bambino (Munchkin + Sphinx)
- Dwelf (Munchkin + Sphinx)
- Minuet (formerly Napoleon) (Munchkin + Persian)
- Skookum (Munchkin + LaPerm)
- Kinkalow (Munchkin + American Curl)
- Lambkin (Munchkin + Selkirk Rex)
- Genetta (Munchkin + Bengal + Savannah + domestic shorthair + European Shorthair)
- Minskin (Munchkin + Sphinx + Devon Rex + Burma)
Miniature cats are not officially recognized almost anywhere outside the United States. Their breeding and distribution have been banned in several countries under the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals.
The shocking health risks of teacup and miniature breeds
The biggest problem is that the physical characteristics and associated health risks of a normal-sized cat are magnified by the smaller body. For example, if a Persian cat’s short nose becomes even smaller and even shorter due to its miniature or teacup size, it increases the chance and risk of respiratory problems. According to experts, such cats are more likely to suffer from eye and nose infections, jaw problems, and the development of polycystic kidney disease.
Regardless of breed, all teacups and miniatures are more likely to suffer from oral and dental disease, are unable to regulate their body temperature as effectively, and their smaller bones and joints make them more prone to arthritis and injury. Also, the following often appear in their case:
- severe growth retardation, which causes the bones to become misshapen and soft;
- slowing of muscle growth causes weakness;
- heart murmur and enlarged heart;
- seizures and other neurological problems that can cause blindness;
- remaining soft area on top of the skull, making the cat vulnerable to head injuries;
- shortened lifetime;
- the reproductive organs never develop or develop poorly.
According to experts, such tiny cats can also suffer from mental problems, as their small size can limit them in their daily lives. They will have the instincts to run, jump, hunt, climb and groom themselves, but if their body is not up to it, it can cause serious frustration.
The shocking health risks in dwarf breeds
The Munchkin was officially recognized by the International Cat Association (TICA) in 1991, but even before that and since then, the breed has been in the crossfire of continuous debates. Critics say they suffer from the same back and hip problems as dogs of a similar build. However, it is part of the truth that this has not yet been scientifically proven.
Opinions about their general health also vary, but their average lifespan is 12-14 years, which reflects the average age of cats. However, many people believe that their body structure definitely limits them, and they understandably do not have much success in the field of jumping. This might suggest that they have pain due to their short legs. Diseases characteristic of the breed also occur in them, such as lordosis, hollowed chest, osteoarthritis, hyperthyroidism, uremia and lymphosarcoma.
However, the Munchkin and the various breeds mentioned above that are crossed with it are not recognized anywhere except by the Dwarf Cat Association, and their breeding has been banned in most countries! (Exceptions to this are the Minuet, Lambkin and Minskin, which are recognized by TICA, and teh Kinkalow is in experimental status. However, it should be added that although it is an international organization, their headquarters are in Texas.)
The breeding of these kittens does not have the slightest regard for the animal itself, we “make” them that way only and exclusively to make them cuter and therefore more salable. We feel about them as if we are again making the mistake of doing something just to gain material benefit from it.
As long as we focus on breeding such breeds, we forget that there are countless cats on Earth who are healthy but undesirable. It would be more worthwhile to invest our energies in solving this problem.
- dwarf cat
- genetic mutation
- hybrid cat breeds
- miniature cat
- purebred cat
- sick cat
- teacup cat