Cat Breed Profile: Scottish Fold

Scottish folds have a unique folded ear that makes them unmistakable, but some of them have straight ears. Find out more in our breed profile.

scottish-fold
Scottish fold cats have unique ears. By: Tom Thai

Breed

Scottish fold

Physical Description

The Scottish fold cat breed is characterized by its unique appearance. Scottish folds display surprisingly round features: a round face, emphasized by flat ears; large, circular eyes; a short snout (compared to other cat breeds); and a round body structure with short to medium legs.

The distinctive “folded” ears face forward and down toward the face. The fold is caused by a naturally occurring dominant-gene mutation that creates a crease in the cat’s ear cartilage.

Scottish folds are medium-sized cats. Males typically weigh between 9 and 13 pounds, whereas females typically weigh between 6 and 9 pounds.

However, because of recent breeding strategies, some Scottish folds express the “munchkin” gene — a naturally occurring genetic mutation that causes shortened forelegs and hind legs. These cats are commonly referred to as Scottish kilts. However, some consider this to be a controversial breeding practice.

Scottish folds can be found with long or short hair and in a variety of fur colors and patterns.

Origin

The first Scottish fold was reportedly found roaming a farm in Perthshire, Scotland, circa 1961. Her name was Susie; she had white fur, and a man named William Ross took one of her kittens that also shared her folded ear trait.

Ross was known for being a cat aficionado, and he registered the breed with the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) in 1966. Following the registration, Ross partnered with Pat Turner, a geneticist, to expand the breed’s population. They discovered that a dominant gene caused the trait.

Because of issues with ear infections, deafness and mites, along with deformed limbs and tails, the Scottish fold was sent to America and crossed with both British and American shorthairs. After elimination of these genetic abnormalities, the Scottish fold was allowed Cat Fancier’s Association (CFA) registration status in 1974.

Temperament

The temperament of Scottish folds strongly reflects their non-aggressive appearance. Laid-back by nature, Scottish folds are elegantly playful and love attention. Mellow and sociable, they prefer to lounge in company, but they are also perfectly content sitting near their companions. They are incredibly loyal and will establish strong bonds with one or more people in a household — regularly following the chosen person from room to room, waiting for recognition or a friendly pat.

Even though Scottish folds demonstrate gregarious behaviors, they rarely vocalize for attention (unless an empty food bowl requires attention). When they do express themselves vocally, their meow is relatively quiet.

The food bowl demands will vary with each cat, and the Scottish fold in this video is quite vocal about wet food:

Overall, Scottish folds are famed for their highly adaptive and even-keeled attitudes, making it easy to introduce them to new pets, people and settings.

Exercise Needs

Scottish folds will live as sedentary indoor cats if given the opportunity, but if they’re allowed outdoors they will gladly spend time roaming and hunting in the yard and neighborhood. After all, their ancestors were farm cats.

If a Scottish fold is left without exercise stimulation, the lackadaisical demeanor may enable obesity. To prevent excess weight gain, initiate regular play and provide a healthy diet. Buying cat toys or dangling a piece of string should do the trick, or you may consider bringing more than one cat into your household.

Grooming Requirements

Grooming requirements vary depending on hair type. Short-haired Scottish folds require weekly brushing, whereas their long-haired counterparts need daily brushing.

Note: The fur of long-haired Scottish folds produces uncomfortable mats more readily than short-haired counterparts.

If the cat is allowed outdoors, he or she will likely shed more during spring and fall months and will need more frequent brushing. Indoor cats tend to shed evenly year round, so maintaining a consistent grooming schedule will suffice. Professionals recommend using a quality steel comb to remove hair and prevent mats.

Nail maintenance should be done regularly by clipping the nails each week to two weeks, and the teeth should be cleaned more often.

Common Health Problems

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Not all Scottish folds have folded ears. By: Tom Thai

Like other breeds with barnyard ancestors, the Scottish fold is one resilient feline. Nevertheless, Scottish folds are not without possible genetic abnormalities.

It is considered an unethical breeding practice to mate folded ear pairs. Combined, the dominant gene that produces folded ears may cause a degenerative joint disease, affecting the spine, hind legs and tail. The disease causes joint fusion and is recognizable between the ages of 4 and 6 months. Visible signs include thicker tail bones or spines, limited mobility, sensitivity to touch and rigid movements.

To avoid joint degeneration, breeders are encouraged to mate folded-eared Scottish folds with straight-eared Scottish folds.

Is a Scottish Fold the Right Cat for You?

Because of the social nature of Scottish folds, people who live alone or are away from home for long periods of time should reconsider adopting a Scottish fold. The cat may become excessively timid or mercurial if deprived of attention.

Their affectionate behavior makes them an ideal pet for children, although they do not cope well with roughhousing.

Aside from attention needs, Scottish folds are incredibly low maintenance and are considered a rare and highly sought after breed. They will make the perfect companion, especially for those who enjoy staying close to home.

Adopt, Don’t Shop

Check local shelters for Scottish folds in need of a new home. If you’re uncertain about how to find reputable shelters, start by visiting Pets Adviser’s adoption page. Kitten mills do exist, so please read our kitten mill article and familiarize yourself with our puppy mill red flags (they apply to kittens, too).

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This featured contribution was written by Kevin Cooper, who writes about pet-related topics on behalf of ASPCA Pet Insurance. He also enjoys learning about trending pet-related news across the web.

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