Country of Origin: Scotland
Also known as:  Folds, Lop Ears, Lops, Highland Fold, Longhair Fold & Coupari
Males Weight:  2-6 kg
Females: Weight:  2.7-4 kg
Care Requirements: Easy
Lifespan: 15-18 Years
Best Suited as:  Pets

The Scottish Fold Cat is rightfully named as the cartilage in their ears contain a fold, which give them a strange, “owl-like” appearance.  This is caused by a natural dominant-gene mutation. The Fold makes a loving and affectionate pet and they are popular in the United States.

Discovering if your Scottish Fold will have folded ears will have to wait – born with straight ears, those whose ears will eventually fold, do so around twenty-one days after birth. Those who express the folded ear gene are called “folds” and those whose ears remain straight are called “straights”.  The original Scottish Folds had only one fold, while descendants may have up to two or three folds.  Breeders, wanting to ensure that their cats expressed this gene, have changed the look of this breed by insuring extra folds. Now some Scottish Folds ears lie totally forward, flat against their heads.

The face and features of the Scottish Fold are round, including their large copper or blue eyes. They are sweet looking, padded cats with medium to short legs and a medium length tail. Their fur can either be long or short, and appears in many different color combinations including solid colors, tabby, tabby and white, shaded and bi-color or parti-color.

Cannot find your Fold? Try the meditation room – this cat strikes a pose that is strangely Buddha-like by sitting with their legs stretched out and their paws on their belly. This unusual cat also enjoys sleeping on his back.

Scottish Folds are known for being calm, affectionate and playful.  They form strong attachments to their owners and do well with other family pets. Your Scottish Fold may develop a special affinity towards one family member but will curl up with other members as well.
They are intelligent creatures who love being with their owners. Do not be offended if your cat occasionally snubs you, however. They love attention but it has to be on their terms.  Scottish Folds are mostly quiet but when they do vocalize, they display a complex repertoire of meows and purrs.

All Scottish Folds can trace their ancestry back to one barn cat, named Susie. She was found at a farm in Perthshire, Scotland in 1961. The farmers, the McRaes, adopted the unusual looking white cat who had a fold in the middle of her ears.  Two of Susie’s kittens had folded ears and the rest did not. Interested in their unusual look, the McRaes neighbor, William Ross adopted one of the two kittens and named her Snooks. Together with geneticist Pat Turner, Ross started to breed Scottish Folds.  In 1966, he registered the breed with the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) in England. In the next three years, seventy-six kittens were born in the breeding program. Thirty-four of them had folded ears, which revealed to Turner and Ross that the ear mutation was due to a simple dominant gene.

In the 1970’s the GCFF became concerned with the breeding of the Scottish Fold and withdrew their registration. The organization was concerned by the increase in Scottish Folds with deformities and ear problems. The breed also became unacceptable at shows and they decreased in popularity in Europe. Breeding of the Scottish Fold was banned in Germany. Around that time, Scottish Folds were introduced in the United States. Three of Snook’s kittens found homes there and one of those kittens helped launch a successful breeding program.  Scottish Folds became very popular in the United States and in 1978, they received Championship status. The breed continues to be established using crosses with British Shorthairs and American Shorthairs.

Care and Grooming
Scottish Folds are generally very clean cats. Regular combing is recommended for long and shorthaired Scottish Folds. Due to their folded ears, wax build up is common. Make sure you clean their ears carefully at least several times a month.

There has been some controversy around breeding Scottish Folds. One parent in a breeding pair must have folded ears to produce kittens with folded ears because the gene is dominant. Breeders, who wanted to ensure that the kittens developed folded ears, began breeding Folds with Folds. What they eventually discovered was that with the increase in folded ear kittens came an increase in skeletal deformities. One of these deformities included Congenital Osteodystrophy, a developmental abnormality that affects cartilage and bone development throughout the body. This alarming discovery caused the dispute in Europe over the Fold’s status.

Since the discovery, ethical breeders have avoided breeding two Folds together. All Folds are susceptible to progressive arthritis, however, and some researchers have advocated for all breeding programs to cease. Scottish folds are prone to polycystic kidney disease and Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, a heart disease.

If you are adopting a Scottish Fold, make sure you are selecting one from a reputable breeder who can show you the cat’s lineage.

Suitability as a Pet
Scottish Folds make wonderful companions and do well in many different environments. While they require love and attention and tend to be more social than most cats, they like attention on their own terms.  Placing a Scottish Fold into a family that has other cats or pets should work well due to their adaptable nature.

While most cats hate riding in the car, a Scottish Fold tends to be a tolerant passenger and is easy to take on holidays. The Fold is also much more tolerant of strangers and will not run and hide as most cats do when a stranger enters the house.

Scottish Folds can be taught tricks including playing fetch and drinking from running water. Be careful, though, this clever cat can also learn how to get into cabinets and open doors. Whether you adopt a straight eared Fold or a lop ear Fold, you will enjoy the funny antics and cuddly nature of your new pet.

Veterinary Surgeon, London at Blue Cross UK | + posts

A London based Veterinary surgeon, Sanja is also an avid writer and pet advocate.