Scottish Fold cat breed: one of the most controversial breeds not recognised in its home country

László Enikő

2023. July 4 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

Scottish Folds are known for their drooping ears that give them a charming look. They have round faces and large round eyes, and their folded ears make their heads look even rounder. They are often compared to teddy bears or owls. Due to their cute appearance and nice temperament, they are very popular and liked, but many people do not support their breeding. Find out why!


While Scottish Folds are known for their distinctive drooping ears, they are actually born with straight ears. The folded look begins to develop when the kitten is between 18 and 24 days old, but only if it has the gene responsible for it. Their ears often remain straight, in which case they are called Scottish Shorthairs. In general, about 50% of a litter with one Scottish Fold parent will have their ears bent forward and the other 50% will not.

The Scottish Fold often sits in interesting poses.


The emergence of a new breed of cat often depends on a natural genetic mutation that occurs unexpectedly in an otherwise ordinary kitten. This was also the case with the Scottish Fold. Today’s examples of the breed can all be traced back to Susie, a white cat with unusually drooping ears. The kitten lived on a Scottish farm, where she spent her days hunting mice. Susie could have lived her life in complete anonymity if she hadn’t been noticed in 1961 by a shepherd named William Ross who was interested in cat breeding. When Susie had kittens, Ross got one, a female she named Snooks.

Snooks had kittens, and it wasn’t long before other breeders got involved in the development of the breed. It was established that the droopy ear gene mutation is not completely dominant, so the litter will contain straight and folded eared kittens as well. The gene for long hair was another gift that Susie passed on to her descendants which is known as Highland Fold.

The breed was first imported to the United States in 1971. By the mid-1970s, it was recognized by most North American cat associations. The Scottish Fold can be crossed with the American Shorthair and the British Shorthair, but not with another Scottish Fold for health reasons.

Ironically,in the country of its origin is not recognized as an official breed, because the bent ears can lead to ear infections, and the individuals can also have cartilage problems. In the past they thought that droopy ears were a sign of deafness, but it turns out that it often occurred in individuals of the breed because too many white cats were included in the breeding. The breed was registered with the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF), the UK’s cat registry, in 1966. However, the GCCF stopped registering Scottish Folds in the 1970s due to concerns about ear and hearing problems. This reduced the breed’s popularity in the UK.

Breed standard

The Scottish Fold is a medium-sized cat weighing between 3-6 kg. Its head is wide and round, and is often compared to an owl. The neck is short and thick. Its eyes are round and large, set far apart. The ears are small, bend forward, and sit far from each other. Their ends are rounded. Its legs are moderately short, with strong muscles, and its paws are thick and round. The tail is moderately long, it should not be too short or too stiff. Its fur is soft, short, very thick and dense. The hairs stand slightly away from the body. Its color can be almost any color, similar to British and American Shorthairs. Its expected lifespan is about 12-15 years.


The Scottish Fold is highly regarded for its easy-going, affectionate personality. It loves its family, but its attachment does not become disturbing or demanding. It is a smart, moderately active cat.; enjoys playing different games, especially those that test its agility and intelligence, even likes to learn tricks. Its favourite activities include anything that requires human interaction. Because there’s nothing the Scottish Fold likes more than being with its family and participating in what they’re doing. Its is a sweet cat who enjoys attention and has a really lovable personality.

Ideal environment

Since the breed is extremely human-loving, it has a hard time being alone. Therefore, it is only recommended for households where lives another cat, or where one of the owners spends a lot of time at home. It easily adapts to different lifestyles and is also compatible with cat-friendly dogs. It is also an ideal companion for children.


It is necessary to check the ears regularly. If they look dirty, wipe them with a cotton ball or soft damp cloth moistened with a 50-50 mixture of apple cider vinegar and warm water. Avoid using ear cleaning sticks as they can damage the inside of the ear. You should also occasionally wash the eyes with a soft, wet cloth. To avoid infections, use separate areas of the cloth for both eyes. Claws should be trimmed if they grow too long. Its plush fur should be combed once a week.

Common health problems

The breed can develop a skeletal disorder called osteochondrodysplasia. This is why straight-eared cats are so vital to a breeding program. This condition occurs when droopy ears are bred with droopy ears. Don’t buy a cat with stiff or inflexible legs, or a short and thick tail. Osteochondrodysplasia is responsible for drooping ears, but it can also occur in other areas of the skeletal system. The problem becomes serious when the phenomenon is present in the limbs to such an extent that the animal can hardly walk because of it. It is extremely important to pay attention to the cleanliness of the ears, as this breed is more likely to develop ear infections or other problems.

(Literature used: János Szinák – István Veress: Cat Guide, Laura Aceti – Viola Autieri: Our best friend, the cat, Jean-Luc Renck: The cat)

breed description Scotland scottish fold short-haired cat

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