An endearing doll-like face and a low-slung body like a Dachshund help the Napoleon capture your heart and bring a smile to your face. They combine the older doll-faced Persian look with the short legs of the Munchkin and come in all the colors of the rainbow and both long and short hair. A man-made breed currently in the early stages of development, the standard Napoleon comes with short legs but there are also kittens with normal leg length but the same sweet look. It comes in both short- and long-haired coats.
The Napoleon shares its history with the Persian that has been a part of the cat fancy from its beginnings in the late 19th century and with the modern Munchkin whose roots go back to 1983. Sandra Hockendal rescued a pregnant cat with short legs – some of her kittens did too and Sandra's Louisiana plantation became the base of a population of short legged cats that results from a dominant dwarfism gene. TICA recognized the Munchkin for registration status in 1994 and for Championship status, after years of careful monitoring for health, in May 2003.
In 1996, Joe Smith (Blueline cattery) started breeding Persians with Munchkins. Joe was a Basset Hound breeder, a low-slung breed of dog, and became intrigued with the Munchkin and its genetics. He wanted to create a breed that would have universal appeal whether the cat had the signature short legs or the longer legs of the non-standard version. Joe decided to call his breed the Napoleon after the short-statured Napoleon Bonaparte. The Persians used were the so-called doll faced Persians which had a longer nose than the modern Persian and a very open sweet expression. In 2001 Joe contacted TICA and the new breed was added to the list of Experimental breeds and by 2002 Joe had met the criteria for the next stage in development and the breed was advanced to Registration Only status. This important step recognized the name and started the breed on the first rung of the ladder towards championship status.
It takes a long time and a lot of hard work to develop a new breed and there are often frustrations and heartaches along the way with both the development and the process to get a new breed accepted. In 2008, Joe moved on to other projects and other Napoleon breeders picked up the torch to continue the drive towards full recognition. Sam Tate (Wonderfulkitty cattery) and Margie Gardner (Creators) continued to push the breed forward but it was not until Teri Harris (Munchkinlane) presented the breed to the TICA board in September 2011 that the Napoleon got to the coveted next step of Preliminary New Breed and could begin showing in that class at shows effective May 2012.
The Napoleon is a gentle, extremely affectionate and people-oriented cat. They have the gentleness of a Persian and the energy and curiosity of the Munchkin. Their big eyes in their sweet faces give them a look of complete innocence while their inquisitiveness gets them into all kinds of scrapes. While gentle, they are also self-starting when it comes to activity and like the Munchkin can navigate the curves of their self-defined race-track for the day at breakneck speed.
In appearance, the first thing you notice is the sweet face and the second the short legs. While derived from the Persian and the Munchkin, the Napoleon is a distinct breed with its own characteristic look. The head is round and has great big eyes but rather than the short snub nose of a Persian, the Napoleon has a longer nose much like the earlier Persians. The standard Napoleon has short legs but the non-standard version with the long legs still has the same distinctive features in the head and there is no mistaking the fact that it is a Napoleon.
Round is the word most associated with the breed. The round head has a shape like a pie-plate and big round eyes like marbles are set into it. Round cheeks, round top head, round muzzle. The ears are medium to small and also contribute to the round look of the head. The nose has a slight change of direction often referred to as a ski jump nose meaning it tips up ever so slightly at the end. All of which combine to present the very sweet innocent look of the breed.
They are a medium-sized strong cat—and their low-slung bodies reflect that. Like Napoleon, they wear their short-legged bodies with great authority. Roundness also has a role in the overall structure of the body—they have a semi-cobby body which gives a sense of roundness and the overlaying musculature emphasizes that same roundness. These sturdy cats have strong, solid boning and excellent musculature kept in shape by their active natures that has them running round the house and up and down the stairs.