The first Scottish Fold appeared as a spontaneous mutation in 1961. Susie, a white kitten was born on a farm near Coupar Angus in Scotland and had unusual folded ears. A neighbouring farmer and cat enthusiast by the name of William Ross noticed Susie’s unusual ears which he pointed out to Susie’s owners, Mr and Mrs McRae. Two years later, Susie had a litter of kittens, producing two offspring with folded ears. One, a white female was given to William Ross, naming her Snooks. Snooks was bred, producing more offspring. At this point, the new breed was called Lop Eared Cats.
A London-based breeder by the name of Pat Turner visited the Ross’s, returning home with a male called Snowdrift. She began an experimental breeding programme with the breed. Patricia convinced the Ross’s to change the name to Fold.
Three of Snowdrift’s descendants arrived in the United States in the early 1970’s and the breed received championship status with the CFA in 1978. However some registering bodies no longer/refuse to accept Scottish Folds due to the affects the “fold” gene has on the breed (see below).
The ears are in the normal pricked position at birth but in the folded cat, start to bend forward around four weeks of age. The gene responsible for the folded ears is known as the Fd gene which causes the cartilage of the ear to fold forwards. The Fd is a dominant gene with incomplete penetrance. Only one copy of the gene is required for the offspring to inherit the trait. The heterozygous Scottish fold will have one copy of the Fd and one copy of the non-fd gene, ie: Fdfd. The chart below explains this.
Unfortunately, the gene responsible for the folded ears also has an impact on the skeletal system. Known as osteodystrophy orosteochondrodysplasia, this condition affects cartilage throughout the body including bone lesions, thickening of the tail, bones in the hind legs becoming thickened and arthritic, resulting in pain and discomfort.
Scottish Folds should never be mated to Scottish Folds as the offspring will be homozygous (ie, have two sets of the Fd gene, making it double strength, so to speak), resulting in debilitating skeletal deformities. Permitted outcrosses are the British Shorthair and American Shorthair.
The Scottish Fold is a medium sized cat, with a solid/cobby body. The most prominent feature of the breed is the ears which point downwards and forwards, which gives the head and face a round appearance. This folding occurs to differing degrees, but the more tightly folded and smaller the ears, the better.
The coat of the Scottish Fold is short and dense (there is a longhaired version known as the Coupari. Most coat colours can be found in the Scottish Fold, the only colours not permitted are the colour point colours.