Scottish folds are one of the most popular and, undoubtedly, one of the cutest cats in existence today. They are friendly, affectionate, and look like owls, with their round faces, closely tucked folded ears, and large eyes. This trending breed is also quite popular on social media and a favorite of many celebrities. Let’s talk about the unique characteristics of the Scottish fold cat.
Origin of Scottish Fold Cats
The origin of the Scottish fold cat is known to be a Scottish barn cat named Susie whose ears just happened to fold forwards as a result of a spontaneous genetic mutation. She gave birth to a litter of kittens whose ears also folded forwards. In 1966, a local cat fancier named William Ross started a breeding program and registered the Scottish fold with the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF, the United Kingdom’s pedigree cat registry).
In the early 1970s, however, the GCCF stopped registering Scottish folds, concerned that they might have hearing problems and ear disorders. The breed became less popular in the UK, but grew in popularity in the United States, where one of Susie’s descendants had been sent to a lab in Massachusetts for genetics study. Sallie Wolfe Peters in Pennsylvania is responsible for developing the Scottish fold breed in the U.S., where it remains popular today.
While the breed cannot currently be registered with the GCCF, it can be registered with other cat organizations in Britain and worldwide. The breed is recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA), American Cat Fanciers Association (ACFA), Federation International Feline (FIFe), and The International Cat Association (TICA).
Today, all of the above-mentioned cat associations have also adopted the Scottish fold longhair, usually the result of a cross with a Persian (or other long-haired breed), for showing and championship. It may be referred to as the Longhair Fold or the Highland Fold.
Controversy Surrounding Scottish Fold Cats
The British Veterinary Association has advised that breeders in that country stop breeding Scottish fold cats due to health concerns. Their small, floppy ears are the result of a genetic mutation that, some experts say, can cause their lives to be short and painful. The genetic mutation affects the cartilage of the cats’ ears, making that cartilage deformed and not able to support the ears, and leading to them folding. It can also cause problems in other parts of the cats’ bodies. Many Scottish fold cats develop arthritis in their tails from the mutation.
Those who advocate for the Scottish fold breed say that the best way to avoid health problems in Scottish folds is to never mate one Scottish fold to another. Instead, they should be paired with an American Shorthair or British Shorthair for breeding purposes. This, they say, leads to fewer congenital health problems. This is not agreed upon by all cat experts, however.
Physical Appearance of Scottish Fold Cats
Scottish fold cats are medium-sized cats weighing between 8 to 12 pounds at maturity. They live, on average, from 9 to 12 years.
The Scottish fold can be long-haired or short-haired. A long-haired Scottish fold has a medium-long to long-haired coat. Short-haired Scottish folds will have dense, plush, soft coats. The Scottish fold does shed and will benefit from weekly brushing.
Scottish folds are medium-sized, rounded cats, with a well-padded body and medium amount of bone. Owners should take care to watch the Scottish fold’s weight and not let them become overweight.
The head of the Scottish Fold is also well-rounded, with a firm chin and jaw. It blends into a short neck.
In general, the small ears on a Scottish fold will fold downward. The ear tips will be rounded. Not all Scottish fold cats are born with folded ears. As kittens, Scottish folds are born with straight ears. These ears might begin to flop over when the kitten is about three or four weeks old. Scottish fold cats who are born with the dominant gene mutation that causes the folded ear will display folded ears; others will not.
As a side note, Scottish folds can hear just fine. The fold in their ears does not affect their hearing, experts note. When a Scottish fold is upset or sick, the fold in its ear can become more pronounced. The ears are not more prone to ear infections or ear mites.
A Scottish fold’s eyes are large, and always look wide open. They are round and separated by a wide nose. The eye color will correspond to the Scottish fold’s coat color. Common eye colors are blue, green and gold. In white, bicolor and van patterns of Scottish fold, eyes can be blue or odd-eyed (each eye is a different color).
The Scottish fold has short, coarse legs, with neat, well-rounded toes. Five toes are on each of the front paws, and four on each of the back paws.
A Scottish fold’s tail is considered to be medium to long, proportionate to its body. It should be flexible and taper to a round tip. Scottish folds can develop painful arthritis in their tail when young, due to the cartilage disorder mentioned above. If you have a Scottish fold, have your vet examine its tail thoroughly (and gently) during exams.
A Scottish fold may come in any color or pattern, except for hybrid colors/patterns. Colors seen in Scottish folds include white, blue, cream, red, silver, brown, cameo, black, tortoiseshell, and bluecream. Patterns include spots, shaded, smoke, ticking, tabby, bicolor, calico, tortoiseshell, and solid color.
Scottish fold cats are intelligent, affectionate, friendly and social. They are loyal and will bond with one person in a household, becoming attached to that person. Scottish folds like to play and will enjoy the exercise you provide them when you play with them.
Health Concerns of Scottish Fold Cats
Scottish folds are prone to arthritis in their tail, as mentioned above. Other health problems that pet insurer Nationwide notes are the most prevalent in Scottish fold cats, as of 2016, are:
- Upset stomach
- Hepatopathy (liver disease)
- Feline upper respiratory disease
Scottish fold kittens are rare, and that means their cost is usually high. Kittens may start at $250 but you can pay up to $1500 for them. If, instead, you want to give a Scottish fold cat who has been rescued a home, check out their listing on AdoptaPet.com.
Trivia About Scottish Fold Cats
- There are three degrees of fold in a Scottish fold’s ear: single, double and triple. Single fold involves just the ear tip; double is a bit more prominent of a fold; and triple folds flat against the cat’s head.
- Scottish folds have been known to sit up like a prairie-dog (or a human!). Some owners call this the “Buddha sit.”
- Scottish folds must be handled gently, especially their tails as they get older, in case they develop arthritis.
Scottish Fold Cats in Popular Culture
- Ed Sheeran has two Scottish fold cats named Calippo and Dorito
- Taylor Swift has two Scottish folds: Meredith Grey and Olivia Benson.
- Maru, one of the most famous Internet cats from Japan, is a Scottish fold. Maru’s videos have been viewed over 300 million times on YouTube.