Up until the 19th century all cats were crossbreeds. Reproduction occurred through accidental meetings and natural selection. However, humans started breeding pedigrees and artificially created more than one hundred cat breeds. Therefore, although now referred to as ‘pedigrees’ all cats are essentially, to some degree, mongrels.History
Throughout the next century, new breeds were established and celebrated by pet owners and cat shows alike. To reach the origins of the Scottish Fold you have to fast forward around a century to 1961. It was then that the first Scottish Fold was found and then later documented in 1966 with the GCCF. A litter of farm kittens had been born in Coupar Angus, Scotland. The litter had one anomaly; a white kitten had developed small ears that folded over towards her face. When the kitten had matured she gave birth some kittens, one of which possessed this same physical trait. A neighbor of the farmer and William Ross, had been paying close attention to this unusual cat and decided to try and produce a new breed using one of the kittens.
What was to follow would be a controversial story, as more research in to the breed found their propensity' towards genetic mutations a drawback to the existence of the breed and one that questioned the very ethics of its breeding. The UK, Australia and New Zealand have officially denounced the breed as cruel whereas further research in the US has found that combining the breed with shorthairs has been found to decrease the risk of disease.
However, despite this division in the cat fanciers and genetic community, as a pet the Scottish Fold gained a reputation as a loveable and loyal cat that has made them perfect for the cat owners of our times. They are easy going and never violent, they are not mischievous but still playful and adapt to changing situations well. We will go in to more detail as to the breed's tumultuous back-story and genetics later, but it does not prevent this cat from becoming an extremely popular pet.
The story begins
After William Ross had started the process of breeding the Scottish Fold, he brought in the British shorthairs to standardize the breed and its particular type. The early 1960s saw Pat Turner start her work on the Scottish Fold.
In 1971, the first Scottish Fold was born in America after William Ross and Mary shipped some of their kittens to Neil Todd PhD, a geneticist living in Massachusetts. After a few rounds of breeding by himself and some fellow breeders the Scottish Fold became admitted by the Scottish in 1973, this was followed by recognition from the AGFA and the CFA in 1974. In the meantime, work had begun to develop the long-haired breed and this was achieved by 1987-88 when the variation of the shorthair was recognized by TICA.
In 1984 the Cat Association of Britain followed suit, when the shorthair Scottish was officially accepted as a championship breed. However, despite its popularity in the U.S. the breed has never been fully supported in its native country. This is generally believed to be because of the genetic make up of the breed, which is prone to skeletal defects and faces reluctance from breeders alike, which will be discussed later. Despite this, Scotland is still recognized as the true home of the Scottish Fold.
Throughout the years the difficulties of rearing the Scottish Fold Cat became apparent. The same gene can also result in a number of cartilage and skeletal abnormalities. We will explain the problems that can occur with these specific genes later on but it remains to say that since they are descendent from farm cats the Scottish Fold is a fairly sturdy and ever loyal breed.
Not welcome home
Scottish Folds have long been a favorite among cat fanciers in the US and regularly appear in the best cat shows in the country. However, the breed is not so revered in its country of birth. This is because of the health problems and caused by the same genetics that causes their ears to fold.
It was discovered that breeding cats with folded ears was creating genetic disorders and William Ross took the measure to breed with British short hairs to stop this from happening. However, even with these measures taken, there were increasing numbers of crippling deformity on the breed s limbs and susceptibility to infections, mites and in worst cases, deafness. In 1971 the GCCF withdrew Scottish Fold registrations and the breed has struggled to regain any footing since this happened.
In the US the breed has been welcomed with open arms. The initial problems that led to the breeds deregistration in Great Britain seem to have been bred out. This is due to breeding with American and British shorthairs. We will discuss in a bit more detail later about what you should check when buying a Scottish Fold, but any good breeder knows that two cats with folds should not be bred together. It is this inbreeding that caused the majority of the genetic problems and it is important that they are not able to return.Appearance
If there’s one overriding word that encompasses the Scottish Fold stature, it is "round". Due to the folding over ears and large round eyes it is often remarked that the Scottish Fold’s appearance resembles that of an owl. The same gene that creates their folded ears also attributes itself to a very distinctive appearance.
They have a round face with a shortened snout and rounded whisker pads, sometimes leading to what appears to be a very smiley face! Their eyes are large and round while their nose is short and goes out in to a gradual curve. Their fully rounded body has plenty of padding and their tail is shorter and thicker than most breeds. Their short, thick legs lead in to strong stocky feet that are designed to carry this unusual frame. They are a small to medium sized cat and generally weigh up to 9 - 12 lbs / 4 - 6 kg when fully grown.
The Scottish Fold's name came from its most defining physical feature, the folded ears. However, their ears are not always folded; many cats develop no fold at all, these are often referred to as ‘Straights’, in fact this can happen just as often as cats with folds.
Not only this but their ears are definitely not folded from one cat to the next. Some still have just one fold bent forward, while others posses a ‘double fold' or even a triple fold. The triple folds are sought after for show cats. However, they are all still very much Scottish Fold breeds in every other sense of the word no matter how many folds are in those ears.
One of the many advantages of choosing a Scottish Fold as a breed is the variety of coat types and colours you can opt for.Personality
The Scottish Fold is one laid-back, loyal kitty. Here we give you three of the breed's defining personality traits to show you just what makes this breed so loveable.
If you're looking for an easy-going cat, the Scottish Fold is the perfect option. They are not overly playful or excitable, which is a blessing if they are ever placed in unfamiliar surroundings. You may find that when taking them to the vet, they do not panic or scratch half as much as some other breeds. They tend not to be perturbed or put out and can get on easily with other pets and children.
This trait makes them a very easy cat to handle and one that you can trust won't destroy your curtains while you are at work. This is not to say they are not playful, however. They can chase yarn as well as any other kitty, but the difference with the Scottish Fold is they won't cross the line from playful in to boisterous. The only drawback is that it maybe more difficult to encourage them to play as they get older as their natural inclination tells them to curl up on the sofa. But it will only take a little encouragement and as long as you play with them no less than three times a week they will keep up their general mobility.
Their tendency to relax also means they are not very vocal. It is a rare occurrence indeed for a Scottish Fold to meow, moan or protest in any way, which makes for a good nights sleep for their owners!