Origins of the Scottish Fold
The first specimen of the breed was a white cat named Susie, whose ears were folded due to a genetic mutation. She was discovered in 1961 on a farm in Scotland by William and Mary Ross. A few years later, Susie gave birth to kittens, also with folded ears. They were adopted by English and American breeders, who took charge of developing the breed.
The development of the Scottish Fold was however slowed down by the appearance within the catteries of malformations of the limbs and the tail, due to the mutation at the origin of the ear folding.
To counter these malformations, breeders crossed cats with folded ears with British Shorthairs. As a result of these crosses, they gave birth to the Scottish Fold breed as we know it today.
Scottish Fold behavior and character traits
The Scottish Fold is a cat of keen intelligence, with a calm, thoughtful and very restful temperament. It could be described as a “Zen” cat, which should be respected and not pushed around.
Quiet by nature, the Scottish Fold is nevertheless affectionate. Soft and instinctively sympathetic, it is attached to its masters and is very faithful to them.
It is also a sociable cat, which accepts the presence of other cats as well as dogs. The Scottish Fold is endearing and a real part of the family.
Not very aggressive
The Scottish Fold is not at all aggressive; it never scratches and biting is unnatural for it. On the contrary, it is a ball of tenderness that loves to cuddle!
The Scottish Fold is always pleasant to be around, making it the ideal domestic cat.
Health problems in the Scottish Fold Cat
The gene causing the Scottish Fold’s ear folding can lead to the development of a bone and cartilage disease called osteochondrodysplasia (since the genetic mutation causes the ear cartilage to be deformed, it can also affect the joint cartilage).
Osteochondrodysplasia leads to crippling osteoarthritis, which affects Scottish Folds at a young age (as early as 7 weeks for heterozygous subjects). Affected cats can be severely deformed:
- limbs too small or too large;
- stiff tail, limping;
- swollen carpal and tarsal joints;
- abnormal gait;
- inability to move and jump.
In severely affected cats, the disease results in irreversible paralysis.
Owners of Scottish Folds should handle their cats frequently to check for stiffness or signs of pain, especially in the tail. If there are any signs of stiffness or pain, the pet should be taken immediately to the veterinarian for examination.
This serious affectation can be avoided if the gene is not dominant; only one parent must therefore carry the gene causing the ear folding. Thus, it is strictly forbidden to cross two Scottish Folds cats together.
Any serious breeder should ideally breed a Scottish Fold to a Scottish Straight (straight ears), an American Shorthair or a British Shorthair.
By staving off the serious disease of osteochondrodysplasia, breeders are working to produce stronger cats, as well as ensuring the survival of the breed.