The breed was originally established by Terri Harris in the mid-1990s. Harris decided to see what would come of breeding an American Curl to a Munchkin cat, and the result was quite endearing. The Kinkalow has the shortened legs of the Munchkin. The front legs are particularly shortened. The gene for the shortened, or dwarf, legs came about as a spontaneous mutation. As a result, this gene is not wholly dominate. It is therefore possible to have kittens born into the litter that have long legs. These kittens are generally not used in breeding programs, as the may not carry the dwarf gene.
In addition to the having the shortened legs of the Munchkin, the Kinkalow also inherited the body type of its dwarf parent. There are shorter in the body than the American Curl and quite compact and stocky. These cats also seem to be quite heavy for their size. They are so short in the body that sometimes their long tails are actually longer than their body.
From the American Curl the Kinkalow inherited the gene for curled ears. Like the American Curl, Kinkalow kittens are born with straight ears. However, within the first two weeks of birth, most ears will start to curl. And just like the American Curl, some kittens never do get the curled ears. Since the gene for curled is exhibits incomplete dominate expression, it is impossible to guarantee that all kittens of a given litter will have curled ears. Cats without curled ears can still be useful in breeding programs, as they do carry the gene. However, they would not be eligible for competition, if accepted by TICA as a breed in their own right.
The Kinkalow seems to inherit one more thing from its American Curl parent — exceptionally good health. The American Curl is remarkably free from genetic defects and diseases that often plague purebred cats. The Kinkalow is similarly healthy. Reports of unhealthy or deformed cats are generally the result of unscrupulous breeders. All breeds are subject to their breeders, and though healthy should always be the priority, unethical breeders will sometimes put money over health.
It should be noted, however, that the Kinkalow is a fairly new breed, and is still in the experimental stages. It is really impossible to have complete information regarding health or lifespan until the breed is more established and a true standard can be developed.
The Kinkalow has silky soft fur and are very sleek. They can be found in a variety of colors and patterns, including black, cream, orange, grey, tabby, tortie, and calico. These cats are also very playful and almost dog-like in their desire to please. They are quite intelligent and can be taught to fetch, sit, and come on command.
A unique addition to any household, the Kinkalow is well on its way to being recognized as a legitimate breed. In addition to being registered as an experimental breed by TICA, the Kinkalow is also recognized by the Dwarf Cat Association (TDCA).