Scottish Fold Cats

Scottish Fold cats are a pretty special breed in many ways. 

Scottish Fold cat, blue

They get their name from the breeds tendency to produce cats whose ears have a unique appearance - being literally 'folded' forward.

They're also sometimes called 'Highland Folds' and the long-haired variety is known as the 'Coupari' in Canada.

In Australia, the straight-ear variety is recognized as a separate breed, and know as the 'Scottish Shorthair'.

Another unique aspect of this breed, is that all Scottish Folds today can trace their genetic lineage back to one specific ancestor who lived in Scotland during the mid 20th century.

You might be surprised to find out that although the Scottish Fold cat originated in Scotland, it is no longer recognized by the UKs' Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF), or in many European countries. Luckily for this breed, it has many fans around the world and is especially popular in the USA and Canada. 

Scottish Fold Cats - breed history

It's believed that the first Scottish Fold was a white cat called Susie, who lived on a farm near Coupar Angus in the Tayside area of Scotland in the 1960's.

Susie had the 'folded ears' that are so distinctive and well-recognized in the breed today, but were unique at that time.

Susie had a litter of kittens, two of them had folded ears and a neighboring farmer William Ross, and his wife Mary, fell in love with one of them, a white female whom they adopted and called 'Snooks'.

The Ross' were so enchanted and intrigued by the beauty and personality of these cats that they started a breeding program (mating with regular domestic and British Shorthair cats) to establish the breed and called them 'lop-eared' or 'lops', as they reminded them of the rabbits who have long, droopy ears.

Originally the GCCF registered this new breed but, worried about bone abnormalities and possible ear/hearing issues, they stopped registering them in 1971.

Luckily for these docile and beautiful cats, US breeders took up their cause. Some of Susies' direct descendents were exported to the US and by the late 1970's vigorous breeding programs involving these cats and both British and American Shorthairs were being established in North America.

In May 1977 the Scottish Fold breed was provisionally recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) in the US.

Scottish Fold Cats - appearance & personality

scottish fold cat

This breed has a sweet, wide-eyed expression in a rounded head, a short neck and a sturdy, compact or 'rounded' (almost chubby) body.

They generally weigh somewhere between 6 and 13 lbs when fully grown, with the females being on the lighter end, and the males on the heavier end, of this scale.

The ears may be folded (and the 'degree' of fold can vary from a looser 'single' fold to a tight 'triple' fold), or straight.

Scottish Fold kittens are all born with straight ears, but by the time they are around 3 weeks old their ears may begin to show signs of folding.

The tips of the ears are always rounded. The tail should be long and flexible, and a tapered (rather than rounded) tip is preferred.

Scottish Folds can have either short or long coats, and the short fur should be dense. The longer coats should be full, with a 'ruff' around the neck and a full tail. They come in a wide variety of colors (can vary slightly depending on the coat length) including......

  • Solid colors - including the original pure white, black, blue, red and cream.

  • 'Shaded' or 'Smoked' colors - (paler undercoat and dark 'tipping' on outer coat). Including Silver, Gold, Chinchilla, Cameo, Black and Blue.

  • Tabby - including red, brown, silver and blue tabby plus mackerel, spotted, ticked, patched and a variety of other tabby colors/patterns.

  • Tortoishell

  • Calico

  • Blue-Cream

  • Bi-color - white with unbrindled patches of black, blue, red or cream.

  • There are also other acceptable colors/patterns, but 'hybrid' colors such as Lavendar, Chocolate or colored 'points' (such as seen in the Himalyan, Persian or Siamese breeds).

The color of the eyes and nose/paw leather also varies and should correspond to the dominant color of the coat. Odd colored eyes (one blue and one gold) are allowed in the bi-color and van varieties.

silver scottish fold cat
Silver Scottish Fold

This cat breed is the 'whole package' and has the personality to match it's adorably 'cuddly' exterior! Here is a quick summary of the nature of Scottish Folds

  • Affectionate, loving and loyal - but not 'clingy'

  • Not given to loud vocal displays

  • Tend to be 'one-person' cats and bond closely with their owners

  • Adaptable and easy going, good with children and other pets

  • Mid-range in terms of activity level

  • Can be a little 'needy' and don't like being alone for long periods

  • Sometimes a little 'stubborn' and (like all cats) have a mind of their own!

One other funny little 'quirk' that is unique to Scottish Fold Cats, is their strange ability to sit upright, on their butt with their back legs straight out, sort of like an otter, or even a furry little Buddah. It's just too funny!

Scottish Fold Cats - health issues

As with all purebred animals, there are certain health issues that may occur in this particular breed.

The genetic 'quirk' that gives these cats their distinctive, and unique, folded ears may also be linked to skeletal problems and deformities. These most often show up as foreshortening, stiffness or imobility of the tail, and as 'thickened' or stiff paws or 'fused' leg joints.

This condition is called congenital osteodystrophy and is most often seen when two cats with the 'folded' ears are bred together. A cat who carries one gene for the folded ear is referred to as being 'fd' and will have straight ears. If it carries two genes for this trait it's an 'Fd' and will have folded ears.

That's why responsible breeders only breed Folded to Straight pairs, or 'outcross' to American Shorthair and the British Shorthair (the only allowable outcross).

Scottish Fold Cat Long-hair

There is some indication that even fd cats may have an above-average tendency towards developing arthritis in later life, but more recent investigation seems to show that this isn't necessarily true.

In spite of worries that Scottish Fold cats with tightly folded ears may have more problems with ear mites or ear infections, that doesn't seem to be the case.

But if you have a Scottish Fold cat with this type of ear it's a good idea to take a look inside now and then to make sure there's nothing 'brewing'.

Although deafness was thought to be a concern with the breed in the early days, there's no indication that these cats are more prone to deafness than any other breed.

This may have come up due to the original (and most common) color being pure white and the fact that white cats (and dogs) do seem to have a tendency towards hearing problems and deafness.

Careful breeding practices have given this adorable cat a 'new lease on life' and overall, Scottish Folds are now a healthy and vigorous breed. Which is actually very appropriate, given that their very first ancestor was a robust Scottish farm cat!

Related Pages:

The Scottish Fold Kitten

› Scottish Fold Cats

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