The world has an obsession with tiny animals, and why not? Palm-sized creatures are too cute for words, not to mention you can post pics of your tiny pet all over social media and get lots of likes. If you own a teacup cat, you’re probably wondering how big it will eventually get. Do teacup cats stay small?
Teacup cats with genetic dwarfism will stay small their entire lives, but that’s not necessarily true of all felines with the teacup moniker. Some cats are bred runty, which makes them appear small at first, then the cat grows to a more normal size.
You may have more questions yet about teacup cats, and I’m happy to provide the answers. In this article, I’ll explain what a teacup cat is, their max size potential, and whether owning a teacup cat is a smart idea.
What Is a Teacup Cat?
You’ve heard of teacup pigs before, but never teacup cats. What are they?
Teacup cats are named that because they’re small enough to fit inside a teacup. Unlike kittens, which are born small but later grow into larger felines, teacup cats are supposed to stay eensy-weensy their entire lives.
How? That depends on the breeder. Here are several ways teacup cats are born.
Runt Cat Breeding
Since teacup cats are mini, the parents of the cat can’t be overly large themselves. By breeding two adult runts, the likelihood of a smaller cat resulting is much higher. However, these cats aren’t genuine teacup cats, as their size can be all over the board depending on just how runty their parents are.
A more guaranteed way to get small cats is by breeding selectively for size. An undersized feline may be set aside and used for mating purposes to ensure her litter is equally small. The best-case scenario in size breeding is a genetic mutation that consistently produces small cats. More than likely, progressive downsizing will occur, where the birthed cats get smaller and smaller because of picky breeding.
One such genetic mutation that can cause teacup-sized cats is genuine dwarfism.
One dwarf cat species known as the Munchkin is highly favored for genetic dwarfism breeding, as it is a genuine dwarf cat, also known as a chondrodysplastic cat. The thing about the Munchkin though is that its legs are naturally short, so some resulting cats could just have tinier legs and not be so small elsewhere. It all depends on the other cat used for breeding.
The most common breeding combinations to produce a teacup cat with some form of genetic dwarfism are as follows:
- Burmese, Devon Rex, and Sphynx + Munchkin = Minskin
- Domestic Short Hair cat, Savannah cat, Bengal cat + Munchkin = Genetta
- Selkirk Rex + Munchkin = Lambkin
- American Curl + Munchkin = Kinkalow
- LaPerm + Munchkin = Skookum
- Persian + Munchkin = Napoleon
- Sphynx + Munchkin = Bambino
Does a Teacup Cat Stay Small?
Next, let’s talk about the size of a teacup cat. By the time one of these felines reaches adulthood, you’re lucky if the cat weighs five or six pounds. Compare that to the weight of a regular adult cat, which is at least 10 pounds but often more.
Will your teacup cat always be so tiny or will it someday balloon up?
Genuine teacup cats stay small because they’re born with genetic dwarfism. Just like dwarfism in people doesn’t cause them to grow bigger despite their age, the same is true if a cat has dwarfism.
However, if the Munchkin breeding only produces a supposed teacup cat with short legs, then you may be in for an unpleasant surprise later. The kitty will look tiny and manageable now, but the rest of its body will grow with time. The legs won’t, so you’ll have a short and stubby little pet, but not a true teacup cat.
Runt breeding, as I mentioned in the last section, is the biggest wildcard. Cats are runty for all sorts of reasons, be that malnourishment, dwarfism, or being kept in poor conditions. A runt cat being sold as a teacup cat will start small, but once you feed it and care for it, the cat may get bigger. At that point, you’d have a regular-sized cat.
Should You Buy a Teacup Cat?
I know, I know, teacup cats are the best thing ever. You just want to hug and squeeze the kitty all day, letting them know how loved they are. After reading to this point, you’re tempted to adopt a teacup cat right away, but is it really the best idea?
There are a few reasons you should take heed.
Possible Bad Breeding Conditions
As the demand for teacup cats grows, there’s pressure on cat breeders to ensure they’re always producing perfectly portable tiny cats. This can cause the breeders to leave their morals by the wayside just to meet customer demand and make a quick buck.
A cat, on average, should be bred no more than five times a year. Even that’s pushing it, as the cat would literally spend its whole year either pregnant or giving birth, which is no way to live.
By breeding a cat more than five times annually, the feline could suffer immune system damage and other health issues. Being less picky about how a breeder gets a supply of teacup cats could also lead to inbreeding.
As an animal lover, if you’re looking to adopt a teacup cat, you need to more than do your homework. If the breeder has no record of the cat’s genetic background, then don’t adopt the cat. It’s more than likely a runty cat being marketed as a teacup cat.
You should also avoid working with a breeder if they won’t tell you anything about the cat’s parents or when and where the cat was born. Another huge red flag is that the breeder constantly has kittens for sale. Remember, any reputable breeder will give their cats a break from reproducing for the health of the feline.
Too Easy to Lose the Cat
Let’s say you do find a trustworthy breeder who sells cats with dwarfism, aka true teacup cats. Even still, have you thought of the long-term ramifications of owning such a tiny animal?
This handheld pet can get lost in about a million places in your living room alone, from the gaps between the sofa cushions to under the couch, beneath your table or armoire, and behind your TV.
If you happen to lose sight of your cat, it’s not like shouting their name will necessarily help. Cats hear you when you call them, but unlike dogs, they’re not always inclined to come to you. You’d need to wrap a little jingle bell around your teacup cat’s collar or attach a balloon to them so you can’t lose them.
Your cat would also need lots of help with things that larger cats excel at. For example, can your cat even get into their bed or do you need to give them a boost? How do you find a scratching post that small?
Pets are not toys, but real, living creatures. If you’re thinking of giving a teacup cat as a gift or adopting one yourself, make sure you’re ready for all that will follow.
Variety of Health Risks
Teacup cats, as precious as they can be, are not normal. Like any unnaturally-bred animal, their existence carries with it a lot of health defects. Here’s a list:
- Malformed reproductive organs, provided the organs grow at all
- Bone deformations, especially the legs and jaw
- Higher rate of developing kidney disease
- Skull may have soft spots, so head trauma can easily occur
- Potential blindness or other vision troubles
- Neurological issues and seizures
- Slowed growth of muscle mass, leading to fewer physical capabilities
- Larger heart and heart murmurs
- Reduced lifespan
If you thought caring for a small animal on its own was hard, wait until you factor in some of those health issues. You’d have to take your teacup cat to the vet often, and even still, it won’t live as long as a full-sized cat would.
Other Teeny-Tiny Cat Breeds to Consider Owning
You had your heart set on a teacup cat, but it’s not all bad. Some cats are predilected to stay small throughout their whole lives, and they carry far fewer of the health risks from the last section. These cats are safer, smarter options for you to consider.
Here are six such breeds to get you started.
The Siamese cat has an exotic look, what with its ivory body and dark brown ears, face, and paws. Even better is that this cat grows to around 13 pounds max, with some smaller Siamese only weighing eight pounds. At their biggest, a Siamese is 12 inches tall, which is one foot. This is still a very tiny cat.
Unlike teacup cats, which aren’t known for their long lives, the Siamese has a healthy lifespan of 15 to 20 years. Many happy Siamese cats regularly live even longer.
The Devon Rex is a newer breed of cat, bred for the first time in the 1950s. Hailing from England, this breed has short-cropped fur and very large ears. I’d say Devon Rexes are even cuter than some teacup cats!
They grow to a decent size too, weighing six to nine pounds, although males can weigh more. They’re about as tall as a Siamese, between 10 and 12 inches, with an overall length of around 15 or 18 inches. Devon Rexes live for 15 years, which is still more time than you’d get with a teacup cat.
A similar breed is the Cornish Rex, another British cat. The ears of a Cornish Rex are smaller than that of a Devon Rex, and they have less fur too. Rather, their coat is described more as down. If you’ve always wanted to dress your cat in little sweaters and booties, a Cornish Rex is a good cat for you.
Female Cornish Rexes weigh up to seven pounds and males eight to 10 pounds. Their height is around 12 inches too. Cornish Rexes live slightly longer than Devon Rexes, with an average lifespan of 11 to 15 years.
As the breed of choice for making teacup cats, you’d have to expect the Munchkin is pretty small. Indeed, at the very least, these cats weigh four pounds, and at most around nine pounds. They grow no taller than seven inches and can live for up to 15 years.
Remember though that the Munchkin does have small legs, not unlike a Dachshund. These legs are a natural trait of the breed, but they can cause the Munchkin to have some difficulty with climbing and jumping.
The reason the American Curl is called that is due to its ear shape, which is indeed curled. The ears are also shorter than most cats, giving the American Curl an unforgettable face that’s too easy to fall in love with.
Even better is that the American Curl doesn’t hit maturity until it’s three years old, so it’s teeny-tiny for a long time. Upon becoming an adult, the American Curl weighs between eight and 10 pounds, so it’s still not big. It won’t grow taller than 10 inches, making it even tinier than Rexes. This cat’s lifespan is about 13 years.
The Singapura is another wonderful teacup-like breed to consider. Few cats are as naturally tiny as this one, and with its huge ears and eyes, it’s got that adorable face that you expect out of a teacup cat. An utter lightweight, a Singapura weighs around four to eight pounds, with males heavier than females.
Its tidy size is no more than eight inches tall. The Singapura’s body is only a foot long, so you could practically put this cat in a teacup. You’ll have more years with the Singapura than a teacup breed too, as its lifespan is 11 to 15 years.