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The Scottish Fold, known to supporters of the breed simply as a Fold, is a medium-sized cat that gets its name from its folded ears, and appears both a shorthaired and longhaired variety. Although originating in Scotland, these cats are rarely seen in the UK as the breed is no longer recognised by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF), due to concerns regarding genetic disabilities, which mean that it cannot be shown at GCCF shows nowadays. However, the breed has been further developed in the USA and it is recognised by the International Cat Association (TICA), which exists as an alternative registry in the UK with its own shows, and there are a small number of breeders in the UK. This breed is sometimes known by the alternative names of Highland Fold, Scottish Fold Longhair, Longhair Fold and Coupari.
Like many breeds with unusual mutant features, the Scottish Fold's ancestry can be traced back to the original white farm cat called Susie, who was discovered in Perthshire in 1961. Her ears were folded over in the middle and when she had kittens, two of those were also born with these unusual folded ears. It was also discovered that she carried the longhaired gene, which can be carried in shorthaired offspring and then emerge in later generations. A local farmer, William Ross, adopted one of these kittens, a white female called Snooks, and mated her to a British Shorthair, which produced another white kitten with folded ears, a male whom he named Snowball. They were referred to as 'Lops' to begin with (after lop-eared rabbits) but with the help of an eminent breeder named Pat Turner, he registered this new variety in 1996 with the GCCF as a Scottish Fold in recognition of its origins, and began a structured breeding programme. At first all went well, and over the first three years 76 kittens were born, 42 with folded ears and 34 with straight ears. But then concerns for the health and well being of this new breed were raised, and the GCCF withdrew registrations in 1971 due to the emergnce of deformed limbs and tail in some cats, and concerns about frequent ear problems such as infection, mites and deafness. Scottish Folds were then exported to America and the breed continued to be developed using crosses with British Shorthairs and American Shorthairs. Since the initial concerns were first raised, the breed has not had the anticipated ear and infection problems, although wax build up in the ears may be greater than in other cats.
This unique folding feature of the Scottish Fold is due to a dominant gene that causes varying degrees of fold in the ear cartilage - the early examples had a single fold where the ears bent forwards, although many of today's cats have tight 'triple' folds. This often gives the cat a somewhat owl-like appearance, emphasised by the distinctive rounded shape with a short neck, round head and compact body, particularly in the shorthaired variety, which also has a very short dense coat. The longhaired Scottish Fold, which looks at its best in winter, has a medium to long soft coat standing away from the body, together with an imposing ruff beneath its chin, the appearance of breeches on the hind legs and a big fluffy tail. In both longhaired and shorthaired varieties of Scottish Fold, the coat can come in an amazing range of recognised colours and patterns, including - white, black, blue, red, cream, shaded silver, cameo, chinchilla, cameo, smoke, tortie, blue-cream, bi-colours of black, blue, red, cream, calico, dilute calico, tortoiseshell & white, blue-cream & white, and in all four tabby patterns of classic, mackerel, spotted or ticked in silver, blue, brown, red or cream, tabby & white, silver & brown patched, and tabby & white. All kittens are born with straight ears, which begin to fold at about 3 weeks of age if they are going to, although some cats retain straight ears throughout life (and are known as 'Straights'), and are useful for breeding purposes to in order to strengthen the gene pool and help eliminate any genetic deformities.
Both longhaired and shorthaired Scottish Folds are known to be very good natured, affectionate cats who are very human-orientated and become extremely attached to their owners. They are easy going and will appreciate the company of other pets in their household, especially if the human family members are out at work. They are also very playful, but not overly boisterous, and score extra marks for being a very softly spoken breed with a wide variety of quiet sounds often not found in other breeds. They tend to adopt very relaxed positions when resting, often sleeping on their backs, and sitting in a 'Buddha' position with their legs stretched out and paws resting on their stomachs!
If there going to be any joint deformities from breeding Fold-to-Fold, these will appear between four to six months of age, and a short thickened tail is a sign that may be missed in a longhaired kitten, so this should always be checked for carefully. However, many Scottish Folds do not suffer from any defects and lead a perfectly normal life, often up until about 15 years of age. In common with other cats, Scottish Folds need annual vaccination boosters against the common feline ailments of flu and enteritis, as well as against Feline Leukaemia if they go outdoors.
Caring for a Scottish Fold
Scottish Folds are not known to be fussy eaters and should eat most good quality proprietary brands of cat food, but will also enjoy treats of freshly cooked meat.. However, cows' milk will probably give them a stomach upset, and a bowl of water should always be available. The shorthaired Scottish Fold needs very little grooming, apart from stroking and gentle brushing to remove any loose hairs, although the longer haired varieties benefit from a regular combing to keep the coat free of knots and tangles.
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