The Scottish Fold was first spotted by a man named William Ross in the Tayside region of Scotland, northwest of Dundee. Ross asked to have one of the folded kittens he saw and was able to develop the breed from these kittens. In 1978, the Scottish Fold was granted championship status by the Cat Fanciers' Association.
This breed comes in two types – folded-eared Folds and straight-eared Folds. The folded ears come from an incomplete dominant gene which results in a spontaneous mutation, and this is the most unique characteristic of these cats. The folded ears make them look like a pixie or teddy bear.
Some outcrosses of the Scottish Fold include American and British Shorthairs. The Folds have broadly spaced eyes and a rounded body. The Scottish Folds have a life expectancy of about 15 years.
All Scottish Fold kittens are born with straight ears. Those that have folded ears develop them at about three-four weeks of age. Since not all kittens will develop the folded ears, at around 11 to 12 weeks the breeder can usually tell which kittens are meant to be pets and which will go on to breed or show.
The straight-eared Scottish Folds are typically invaluable to a breeder. These cats are usually not overly vocal, however they do adapt to different situations and environments well. These cats usually adjust to other animals fairly well. When evaluating these cats for adoption, it is important to check the flexibility and thickness of the tail, legs and feet. Kittens are usually available through a breeder at about 12-16 weeks of age because by this time they have had their vaccinations and are physically and socially stable.
The Scottish Fold seems like a breed that would have chronic ear infections, however it is not prone to infections or mites. In cases where the cat exhibits a triple folded ear, more ear cleaning is required. Grooming should be done once weekly for the short-haired folds and twice weekly for a long-haired fold.
When bred properly, the Scottish Fold does not have any special health or grooming needs (beyond ear-cleaning.) Only one parent cat must have the folded ear gene. Usually the cat with the folded gene is bred to an American or British Shorthair. There are strict guidelines in breeding these cats to maintain good health. If both cats hold the "folded ear gene" then complications can occur leading to health issues.
The main problem that can occur if both parent cats have the gene is congenital osteodystrophy. This genetic condition targets the vertebral, leg and tail bones and will cause cartilaginous thickening. The symptoms of this disease present around four-six months of age.
Common Symptoms of Congenital Osteodystophy:
- Affected bones may appear thickened
- The tail may be shorter and thicker than average
- The affected regions will be tender on palpation
- Activity may be reduced (less jumping)
- Slow movement and lack of coordination
- May appear to walk like a toy soldier
- Lethargy and severe pain
- Feet may swell
Congenital oseteodystophy is not curable nor is it life threatening. Glucosamine supplements can be used to relieve stiffness, but euthanasia is recommended in some cases to avoid painful suffering.
The Scottish Fold is no different than most cats. As long as the cats are not inbred, they require annual health exams, vaccines, lots of love and routine feline care.