Mini Meow: What Are Miniature Cats?

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In addition to their over-the-top level of cuteness, kittens are adored because they’re so tiny. So it’s no wonder that many people are interested in miniature cats, or cats that remain small their entire lives.

These breeds can be sorted into the categories of miniature, dwarf, and teacup. Bear in mind that the selective breeding necessary for these types of cats is a highly controversial issue. Reputable breeders who sell these cats should be able to ensure that the animals are healthy, and inbreeding should be avoided as well.

Related: How To Choose A Reputable Cat Breeder

Miniature, Teacup, and Dwarf Cats

Put simply, a miniature cat will typically be around half the size of what a normal cat of the same breed would be. But not every small kitty you encounter is actually a miniature cat. Even the Singapura, which is the smallest feline breed, isn’t considered “miniature.”

Teacup kitties can be found throughout a variety of breeds, and they’re typically only around 9″ high at full maturity. But because of this tiny size, these animals are also vulnerable, so you’ll usually need to wait until a kitten is around six months old before taking him home from a reputable breeder.

Related: Why Do Cats Like Boxes?

Remember, “miniature” and “teacup” are not actual breeds. Teacups are bred in a way to create a mini version of a particular breed. This is why it’s imperative to purchase one from a registered breeder who can ensure the cat is healthy and not inbred.

Dwarf cats, on the other hand, have very short legs. Unlike teacups, these animals are bred in a way that will allow a natural mutation to shorten the long leg bones, leaving the cat short his entire life.

Dwarf Cat Breeds

The founding dwarf cat breed is the Munchkin, and it has been bred with a variety of other breeds, such as the Sphynx, American Curl, and Persian, to name a few.

Again, dwarf cats have very short legs. They range from five to nine pounds and, despite their short legs, manage to remain playful and active. However, they are limited from jumping like other cats do.

Some dwarf breeds include:

  • Dwelf
  • Bambino
  • Skookum
  • Lambkin
  • Minskin
  • Genetta
  • Kinkalow
  • Napoleon

Teacup and Miniature Cat Breeds

Teacups and miniature cats have normal proportions. They’re born smaller than average as a result of environmental, hormonal, or genetic factors. Some breeds in these categories are the result of a spontaneous mutation, while others are born as a result of breeders selecting the smallest cats from every generation to create progressively smaller cats. You can find mini cats in breeds that range from Siamese and Persian, to Ragdoll and others.

But teacups are even smaller than what would be deemed a miniature cat. So, while a mini cat is typically about 1/3 or ½ the size of a normal cat in the same breed, a true teacup will be smaller in every regard as a result of genetic dwarfism. It will have shorter legs, like dwarf cats, but the rest of the body will also be smaller, so everything will be in proportion.

What to Consider Before Purchasing a Miniature Cat

Mini cats are quite popular, so some breeders will take advantage of this by selling “miniature cats” who are actually runts, or who were born early or were emaciated as kittens. Also, some breeders may try to pass off a normal yet petite cat as a miniature to make a higher profit.

But in addition to being wary of scams, bear in mind that dwarf felines are often born with serious health issues. These include, but are not limited to, misshapen and soft bones from growth retardation; a slower rate of muscular growth that leads to weakness; enlarged heart and heart murmurs; neurological problems, including seizures; misshapen legs and jaw; and shortened life spans.

If you do decide you want a miniature cat, purchase from a breeder who limits the amount of litters to ensure the queen remains healthy. The breeder should also take steps to ensure inbreeding doesn’t occur. Ask for a health certificate, as well as a contract that includes a guarantee that the animal doesn’t have genetic defects.

Also remember that you can find a variety of feline breeds in animal shelters and within foster networks, so consider adopting a miniature kitty before shopping for one so that you can save a life.