The Scottish fold is an unusual and undoubtedly controversial cat breed – and in fact, it is not even recognised as a pedigree cat breed by the GCCF in the UK at all.
The unique appearance of these cats very much polarises cat lovers in terms of those that find it cute and those that find it deeply disturbing for reasons we’ll get into shortly, but one thing that cannot be denied is that everyone has an opinion one way or the other!
If you have a soft spot for the Scottish fold or have just learned of the breed and are wondering if they are a good choice of pet, it is really important to find out all about the breed and the controversy behind them before making a decision on whether or not you should choose one as a pet.
With this in mind, this article will tell you ten things you need to know about the Scottish fold cat before you buy one. Read on to learn more.
The most obvious and talked about trait of the Scottish fold cat breed is their ears, which unlike the regular ears of the average cat, curl over against the cat’s head. This is undoubtedly unusual and gives cats of the breed a very unique appearance that many of their fans and followers find very cute!
Interestingly, cats of the breed are born with normal upright ears, which only begin to curl at around three weeks of age.
The signature curled ears of the breed (which gives the breed the “fold” part of its name) is caused by a genetic mutation. This mutation occurred naturally on its own in the first cats to exhibit it, and the mutation itself is inherited by means of an incompletely dominant gene, which means that generally a cat only needs one parent to pass on the gene in question to inherit the curled ears, but that this won’t apply to 100% of cats.
The genetic mutation that causes curled ears in the breed unfortunately has other implications as well. This is because the mutation affects the cartilage of the ears, which usually supports the ears being pointed – and its effect is not limited to the cartilage in the cats’ ears alone.
The mutation within the breed can also result in deformities of the tail, spine and hind limbs, and also, the curled ears make Scottish fold cats more prone to building excessive ear wax too. The deformities caused by the gene mutation itself fall on a spectrum, with some cats being virtually normal other than their unusual ears, whilst other cats will have very limited mobility and suffer lifelong pain.
The curled ears in cats of the breed can result in the above-mentioned deformities in any cat that inherits the gene mutation, but when you breed two cats that carry the gene mutation with each other instead of one cat that does and one that doesn’t, the health issues that result are much worse.
Breeding Scottish folds to produce cats that are relatively healthy but that have curled ears is not an exact science – breeding one cat with the mutation and one without will produce a litter in which some cats have curled ears and others do not. However, breeding two cats with the curled ear mutation is hugely unethical, due to the generally severe health problems that this causes.
The GCCF is the UK’s governing umbrella body for cats and cat breeds, and the one that recognises or denies recognition to different breeds.
The GCCF originally approved the Scottish fold as a pedigree breed but later withdrew this approval in the early 1970s, due to the breed’s correlation with significant health issues in a significant number of cats of the breed.
However, some other breed registries in other countries and some international registries like TICA (The International Cat Association) do recognise the breed, so when you see a Scottish fold advertised as a pedigree cat, this is usually the registry being referred to.
The Scottish fold’s nature is reputed to be sweet, and cats of the breed tend to be gentle, affectionate and loving. This is a breed that many owners prefer to keep as indoor-only pets, although there are of course exceptions.
This is slightly on the high side across the board for all pedigree cat breeds, and cats of the breed can also be relatively expensive to insure, due to their increased risk of potentially expensive health issues.
Scottish fold cats can be found in both longhaired and shorthaired variants, and both types can benefit from regular brushing and grooming. However, longhaired cats of all breeds, including Scottish folds, require grooming to keep their coats in good condition and prevent matting and knots.
The Scottish fold cat also has some other hereditary health challenges as well as those connected to their curled ears.
These include a heart problem called cardiomyopathy, and also polycystic kidney disease.
The Scottish fold’s genetics and health can be complex and challenging, and the breed is a controversial one as a result. Choosing a cat of the breed means supporting the breeding of cats that may have health issues simply in order to produce a specific appearance, and this is something that understandably, many cat lovers will not consider.
If you are thinking of choosing a Scottish fold cat as your next pet, make sure you get the facts and do your research, and make a fully informed decision about both the ethics and logistics of owning a cat of this type.