Known for their large, owl-like eyes, round, flat faces, and of course, those sets of folded ears, the Scottish Fold cat is a beloved variety among many. Affectionate, smart, and social, these cats, unlike many cat breeds, are best suited in the company of other cats and love to share their time and space with friends.
Want to know more about Scottish Folds, their history, and what makes them so special? We've put together a list of seven interesting facts you may not have known about these felines.
1. They can all be traced back to one cat.
That's right — Scottish Folds originated in the Tayside Region of Scotland with a white mouser named Susie. Susie came from humble beginnings, living in a barn and spending her days keeping vermin away, but her naturally folded ears earned her the attention and special appreciation of a shepherd named William Ross. After Susie gave birth in 1961, Ross took one of her kittens and bred it with a British Shorthair cat, creating the cats we know today as Scottish Folds.
2. Scottish Folds aren’t the first cats with folded ears.
While these felines are the most well-known of the folded-eared variety, cats with folded ears actually originated in China. The first Western-recognized accounts of cats with folded ears from Asia was in 1796, then again in 1938, but the presence of these felines likely predates both accounts by years. A fold-eared cat was brought back to England from Asia in the late 1700s, which could account for the presence of Susie.
3. They aren’t a recognized breed in Scotland.
Despite having originated in Scotland, and honoring their motherland in their name, Scottish Fold cats are actually not recognized as an official breed in the country of Scotland. Why? Because many people believe that the folding of their ears can present a number of physical ailments and limitations in the cats, including a propensity toward ear infections, and deafness or trouble hearing.
Scottish Folds do require particular grooming care for optimal health and should have their ears checked weekly for dirt or other buildup. To clean, use a cotton ball or soft towel, never a Q-Tip, to gently wipe around and inside the folds of the ear using a mixture of equal parts apple cider vinegar and warm water, and dry thoroughly to prevent possible infections from forming.
4. Their ears are a genetic mutation.
Those folded ears, sometimes referred to as lop ears or drop ears, come about as the result of a genetic mutation that's passed along from a parent to their kitten. The namesake ears appear thanks to a dominant gene. Longstanding genetics also contribute to other elements of these cats' looks, including long hair, as seen in the Highland Fold, and a wide array of color patterns. The coat color on a Scottish Fold can vary to include a number of types, although some patterns won't be seen on these cats, like chocolate, or Himalayan, which is a cross between Siamese and Persian breeds. Scottish Folds can sometimes feature a bicolor set of eyes as their eyes often match their coats, meaning that Folds with more than one color in their hair can feature two different colored eyes.
5. But not all of them have folded ears.
All Scottish Fold cats are born with "normal" ears, meaning, those classic cat ears that point upright. Most of these cats display ear drooping within their first month of life, and are fully folded over by month three. Some Folds, however, keep their ears upright for the rest of their lives, as commonly referred to as Scottish Shorthair cats.
6. Be careful with their sensitive tails.
Scottish Folds, particularly older felines, can develop sensitivity in their tails as they get up there in age due to arthritis. It is advised to take extra care when handling a Scottish Fold and when grooming or petting their tails, as they have become stiff and sensitive, which may lead to pain.
7. Two Scottish Folds don’t make a new one.
Common sense would lead some to believe that pure-bred Scottish Fold cats must come from two Scottish Fold parents, but in the case of these felines, that's not actually true. The Scottish Fold cats that are well-known to us are usually the result of a folded-eared Scottish Fold outcrossed with either an American or British Shorthair cat, both of which have straight ears. In fact, breeding two Scottish Folds together can result in genetics that may make life uncomfortable for their kittens, including ears that are excessively folded over, or even trouble walking.