Scottish Fold Cats are, as you might imagine, cats with unusual folded ears and while their lopped ears make these cats look like owls, these cats are sweet, loving companions for any person or family! The name of this breed also points to the country of origin, as the first Scottish Fold Cats were found in the Tayside region of Scotland.
Care for these cats includes typical cat care, like brushing (both their coats and teeth) and cleaning their ears. Regular dental care will help keep their teeth healthy and brushing their coats will help remove any dead skin and fur. Scottish Folds can have short hair or long hair coats. Those with long hair coats will also have longer fur on their legs and tails plus tufts of fur on their toes and ears.
Not every Scottish Fold will have the iconic folded ears and those that do will actually develop them a few weeks after birth! For those with folded ears, it’ll be important to check and clean their ears regularly (check once a week!). Use a cotton ball or soft damp cloth and a 50/50 mix of warm water and cider vinegar to clean their ears. Cotton swabs should be avoided, as they could potentially damage the cat’s interior ear. [Image text: Kittens will develop the iconic folded ears a few weeks after they’re born.]
Their iconic ears were actually a mutation, found initially in a white cat named Susie. Susie had these unusually folded ears but earned her keep as a mouser in a barn in the early 1960s. In 1961, she was noticed by a shepherd named William Ross, who took in one of Susie’s kittens, a female he named Skooks. Eventually, more ‘lop-eared’ cats (as they were first called) came from Skooks’ descendants, as the folded ears were dominant! The breed came to the US in 1971 and were officially recognized by many cat associations a few years after that. Long haired Scottish Fold cats are sometimes known as Highland Folds. [Image text: The breed was initially developed in Scotland during the 1960s.]
Ironically, Scottish Folds aren’t recognized as a formal breed in their native country and are actually banned, as there are concerns that their folded ears could lead to ear infections or deafness. The British Veterinary Association has also warned that the mutation that leads to their folded ears can also lead to other problems in the cat’s body, including a type of arthritis because of cartilage buildup. Scottish Fold cats are actually more prone to develop bone and joint problems like osteoarthritis (a degenerative joint disease) and these problems are directly related to their folded ears.
The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy, the pedigree cat registry in the United Kingdom, maintains a ban on registering Scottish Folds, as there are concerns over ear disorders, hearing problems, and other health problems. The Australian state of Victoria has also banned the breeding of Scottish Fold cats because of the association with osteochondrodystrophy (bone and cartilage disorders).
Even with those concerns, the breed is currently very popular in the United States and in Japan. Celebrities like Taylor Swift, Patrick Dempsey, and Ed Sheeran have had Scottish Fold cats and there are even a few of these cats that have a large following in their own right, with cats like Milla having over 370,000 followers on Instagram and Maru, a perk eared Scottish Fold, has over 620,000 subscribers on YouTube.
In addition to their cute appearance, Scottish Folds are popular for their personalities and hilarious poses. One popular pose for these cats includes the ‘Buddha Pose’, where the cats will stand on their hind legs. These cats are also very friendly, love to be with their people, and are fairly quiet.
All over the world, this breed is both very popular and also controversial. Their cute, owl-like faces, funny poses, and happy personalities make them popular pets and celebrities like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran have been known to share photos of their own Scottish Folds. However, there are many places, including Scotland, where this breed is not formally recognized and even banned. While the folded ears give these cats an incredibly cute face, the correlation between the ears and bone/cartilage/joint issues is concerning.