The Scottish Fold derives its name from its ears, which are folded, flattened and point forwards. This unusual breed was first recorded in Scotland in 1961, when a shepherd, William Ross, discovered a pregnant white cat with folded ears on a farm in Perthshire. This female, called Susie, gave birth to two kittens, who both developed similar folded ears. One of the kittens, Snooks, was given to William Ross, and was used to start a breeding programme.
The distinctive folded ears of these cats are very appealing, set against their rounded faces. Scottish Fold kittens are born with normal ears; folding only becomes apparent once the kitten is two or three weeks old.
- BREED DEVELOPED: 1 960s
- COUNTRY: Scotland (UK)
- TYPE: Shorthair
- BODY SHAPE: Medium-sized, rounded
- WEIGHS UP TO: 7kg / 15lb
- PLUS POINTS: Affectionate; plush, soft fur
- WATCH POINTS: Scottish Folds must not be allowed to mate together.
When Susie, the founder of the Scottish Fold’s lineage, was killed by a car, the future of the breed rested entirely with her unneutered kitten, Snooks, kept by Mr. Ross. Ross and his wife sought advice from experts in feline genetics and began a breeding programme with Snooks to develop more cats with folded ears. Yet in spite of their efforts, many people condemned the breeding of these cats, suggesting that folded ears were harmful.
When it proved impossible to register the breed in the UK, some cats were sent to the USA, where they received a more favourable reception and became the subject of intense genetic study.
If two Scottish Folds are paired together, the physical changes brought about by this mutation extend beyond the folding of the ears and cause problems for the resulting offspring. Kittens born to a Scottish Fold pair will have a thickened tail – resulting from a fusion of the vertebrae – which will be less mobile. Their legs will also be thicker, with cartilage developing over the paws, which makes it very difficult for such cats to walk normally. It is therefore vital to ensure that Scottish Folds are not paired together. Pairings with other cats have led to the development of Scottish Folds in a wide range of colours and patterns.
- There is no evidence to show that folded ears make these cats susceptible to ear infections.
- The risk of developmental abnormalities if two Scottish Folds mate has led to this breed being banned in Germany.
- In contrast, the Cat Association of Great Britain was finally persuaded to recognise these cats for show purposes in 1983.