Let's talk Scottish Folds

It’s those ears! The adorable folded ears of Scotland’s most beloved cat breed can’t be beat. It’s just one of several disarming character traits of the Scottish Fold, along with their very rounded face and large eyes that give them an owl-like appearance. Their calm and composed temperament, make the Scottish Fold a great addition to any family.

Official name: Scottish Fold

Other names: Scot Fold

Origins: Scotland

Black and white image of a standing Scottish Fold cat
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Male
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Female
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 Baby age  Birth to 4 months
 Puppy age  4 to 12 months
 Adult age 1 to 7 years
 Mature age  7 to 12 years
 Senior age  From 12 years

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Get to know the Scottish Fold

All you need to know about the breed

If any breed could epitomise a cat in all their captivating glory, it would be the Scottish Fold. As felines go, their looks are one-of-a-kind - they are often referred to as “an owl in a cat suit.” But it’s not just because of the signature folded ears:  the huge spherical eyes and face are also a pleasure to look at.

The breed comes in a short-haired and long-haired variety, both equally easy to groom, with ravishing results.

Their body is equally as cherubic. Although they may not appear the most slender of the bunch, the breed is known to be muscular, for sure. Compact with shorter legs, the Scottish Fold breed is a hardy one but that just means there’s more to adore.

This undemanding cat definitely does insist on one thing:  To be with you. Whether that’s on your lap or just nearby, closeness is key to their bliss (as character traits go for the Scottish Fold, it could be worse). Not fans of being alone - in fact, they don’t like it at all - they’ll need a good dose of alone time with you when you return from being out. A cat pal, or even a dog, could do the trick to keep them company.

When it comes to testing their wits, the Scottish Fold also enjoys learning new tricks and finds games a fun challenge - simple, complex, involving toys, or not, whatever stimulates the gray matter works just fine. Playing with humans though is their favorite pastime! Scottish Folds spend much of their time indoors so are accustomed to playing with children and anyone else they can get their paws on.

Grey Scottish Fold looking directly at the camera

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2 facts about Scottish Folds

1. Some don't have folded ears

The fascinating folded ear is a spontaneous genetic mutation that makes for the bent appendage of the Scottish Fold cat. Some kittens are born with straight ears, too. They fold over--or don’t--at three to four weeks of age, so….

2. ...demand does not equal supply 

Because of the rarity of the folded ears and that not every kitten born has them, there are not enough Scottish Fold cats to meet the demand - for show breeders and regular people alike.

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History of the breed

It was all Susie’s doing. OR Everything comes back to Susie. The origin of the Scottish Fold cat can be traced back to a barn cat named Susie who resided in the Tayside region of Scotland. Her charming folded ears captured the attention of a shepherd named William Ross around 1961.

After Susie had a romantic encounter with a local Tom cat, Ross took one of the kittens home and proceeded to continue the breed by mating him with a British Shorthair, a very similar cat in musculature and coat length. The rest, as they say, is feline history.

As the Scottish Fold cat gained in popularity, the gene for the folded ears, it turns out, was dominant, so the chances of kittens being born with the same was likely. The personality of the Scottish Fold proved too sweet to resist.

In 1971, the first cat was imported to America and by the mid-Seventies most cat associations in North America recognized the Scottish Fold breed. Associations in the United Kingdom do not, however, recognise the breed since numerous veterinary organisations feel that the folded ears can bring undue health problems onto the cat.

Black and white portrait of a sitting Scottish Fold cat

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Scottish Folds

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Scottish Fold
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Stout but strong

Although they have a low-key personality, the Scottish Fold is an active cat and not just one to lie about. The breed’s powerful legs make them just as capable of traversing the furniture as the next feline, especially when it means they’re going in for a snuggle and a scratch. Scottish Folds can be lap cats when they want to but find fulfillment in the physical as well. Exercise is beneficial for any animal but especially cats, who humans can tend to let just do their thing. Play is the way!

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Warning: They really are that great

The Scottish Fold cat consistently ranks in the top 10 most popular breeds worldwide - coming in last year at number nine on the Cat Fanciers Association rankings. There’s a good reason why:  The Scottish Fold temperament is a feat of feline craftsmanship. Docile and super chill, this is a cat that feels as at home in a room full of loud teenagers as they do with a single person. Changing environments and new spaces also don’t daunt the breed. And when they need something, the Scottish Fold will let you know in a tiny voice, one of their most disarming traits.

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There's more food?

The Scottish Fold cat is a big fan of mealtime. The breed is known to be - there is no way around it - gluttonous at times, and even greedy with their food. The best approach here:  Presenting your Scottish Fold cat with the best food possible and super sound nutrition is key to having each of those meals be the best they can be. Make certain to monitor their breakfast and their dinner, giving the same amount each time so they stay on track with feeding. Choose a kibble geared toward big or fast eaters - the special shape will help slow them down. Snacks should be limited.

Healthy diet, healthier cat

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Adult
Senior
  • Tailored health nutrition has a fundamental role to play in maintaining the health and beauty of a cat. Food provides energy to help with vital functions and a complete nutritional formula for cats should contain an adapted balance of nutrients. Feeding them in this way will offer a diet that’s neither deficient or excessive, both of which could have adverse effects on your cat’s health. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times to support good urinary regularity. Cats are also naturally adapted to eating small servings - between 7 and 10 times a day. Giving them the recommended ration of kibble once a day will let the cat regulate their own consumption; ironically, when they have only one or two servings a day, their weight increases more than a cat who eats on demand. The following recommendations are for healthy animals. If your cat has health problems, please consult your veterinarian who will prescribe an exclusively veterinary diet. When choosing food for Scottish Folds, there are factors to consider: their age; individual sensitivities; their lifestyle, which impacts their level of activity substantially; and their physiological status, such as sterilisation, a potential factor in weight gain. If the cat has outdoor access, the changing seasons also play a role, especially when it comes to moulting, which happens twice a year.
  • Age
  • Age is a factor in terms of a cat’s energy needs, especially in their early and the later years. An 8-week-old kitten consumes three to four times more energy per kilo than an adult. A cats’ appetite is reduced as they grow older due to dental sensitivities or a lessened perception of odours and flavours.
  • Growth Phase
  • Growth is an essential stage in a kitten’s life. It is a time of big changes, discoveries, and new encounters. When it comes to their energy, protein, minerals, and vitamin requirements, a kitten’s are much greater than those of an adult cat. They need energy and nutrients to maintain their body, but also to grow and build it. A kitten’s growth comes in two phases:
  • Construction - From Birth to 4 Months:
  • Weaning is the transition a kitten makes from liquid - or maternal milk - to solid food. This period naturally corresponds to the time when they cut their milk teeth, at 3 to 6 weeks old. At this stage kittens are not yet able to crunch, so a soft meal (rehydrated kibble or an adapted wet food) helps facilitate the transition between liquids and solids.
  • Between 4 and 12 weeks after birth, the natural immunity a kitten receives from the mother’s colostrum - or first milk - decreases while the kitten’s immune system gradually develops. This critical time, called the immunity gap, requires a complex of antioxidants, including vitamin E, to help support their natural defences. Kittens go through an intense and particularly delicate period of growth during which they’re prone to digestive upset. Their diet at this time should not only be rich in energy to meet their essential growth needs but should also contain highly digestible protein for their digestive system that’s still maturing. Prebiotics, such as fructo-oligosaccharides, can also support their digestive health by helping to balance intestinal flora. The result? Good stool quality, all around. The kitten’s food should contain omega 3 fatty acids - EPA-DHA - which helps support the proper neuro-cerebral development.
  • Consolidation and Harmonisation - From 4 Months to 12 Months
  • From the fourth month, a kitten’s growth slows down, so a food lower in fats is recommended. This is particularly important after a cat is sterilised. Between 4 and 7 months, a kitten’s milk teeth fall out and are replaced by permanent ones. When the adult teeth have come through, a kitten needs to eat kibble that’s big enough so they’re encouraged to crunch. Until they’re 12 months old, a Scottish Fold kittens’ immune system is still gradually developing. A complex of antioxidants, including vitamin E, can help support their natural defences during this time of big changes, discoveries, and new encounters. The digestive system matures progressively, with digestive aptitudes reaching full maturity toward twelve months of age. A cat is then able to consume adult food.
  • When it comes to their nutrition, the goals for adult Scottish Folds are:
  • Contributing to maintaining an ideal body weight by using highly digestible ingredients and keeping the fat content at a sensible level*, especially for sterilised cats, indoor cats, and strays.
  • Supporting optimal digestion and balancing intestinal flora by using highly digestible proteins and prebiotics
  • Preserving the health and beauty of the skin and coat with the addition of essential fatty acids, especially EPA-DHA, essential amino acids, and B vitamins
  • Maintaining a healthy urinary tract system.
  • Adding fiber to stimulate the elimination of hair that’s ingested during grooming, in order to help reduce hairball formation
  • Supporting daily oral care and hygiene
  • Some cats can be fussy eaters so food palatability is key. Exclusive formula and aromas, kibble size, special texture, or a combination of different shapes or textures - with both their dry and their wet food - will help stimulate their appetite. *Adjusting the energy level of the food to the energy needs of the cat encourages them to regulate their own consumption. Cats usually have more difficulty curbing their appetite if the kibble is very rich in fats.
  • After 7 years old, Scottish Folds start facing the first signs of ageing. A formula enriched with antioxidants will help maintain their vitality and an appropriate phosphorus content will support their renal - or urinary - system.
  • Ageing also means modified digestive capacity. A senior cat - one over the age of 12 - may sometimes have difficulties with absorption, too. To maintain the weight of the ageing cat and prevent any risk of deficiency, they should be given an extremely digestible food filled with essential nutrients.
  • As they get older, cats increasingly suffer from teeth problems, and in some senior cats, the sense of taste and smell may decline as well, which can lead to a lowered intake of food. To ensure they continue to eat enough, the shape, size, and hardness - meaning texture - of their kibble needs to be tailored to their now potentially more fragile jaw.
  • Note that the best energy level for any cat still depends on their lifestyle, even those who are ageing. A senior cat that continues to go out regularly will benefit from a diet with a slightly higher fat content. On the other hand, ageing does not reduce an indoor cat’s risk of obesity. Their calorie intake should still be closely monitored. A food with a moderate fat content then may be optimal.
  • Lifestyle
  • The energy density of the food should be different for indoors and outdoor cats. Going outside changes a cat’s nutritional as well as their energy needs, the latter of which increase according to the amount of time they spend outdoors, their territory, and the degree to which the climate changes through the year (many outdoor cats become indoor cats during the winter). While a 4kg cat needs around 300 kcal/day if it’s outdoors, the same cat who stays inside won’t expend more than 200 kcal/day - a full third less. What’s more, a sedentary cat that is fed a high-fat, high-energy diet as often as they like is less able to regulate its consumption.
  • Healthy Nutrition for Indoor Cats
  • Because an indoor lifestyle often means less exercise (an indoor cat expends a third less than one living outdoors), an adjusted calorie content which meets those reduced energy needs and a diet containing L-carnitine to help promote fat metabolism can help maintain an ideal weight. Avoid feeding them human foods or fatty snacks; instead, reward them with kibble taken out of their daily meals, and strictly follow the feeding guidelines written on the pack to prevent them from gaining weight. Indoor cats spend more time grooming themselves. Selected fibers, such as psyllium, can help to eliminate the hair they’ve ingested, which will reduce hairballs. For Scottish Folds living mostly indoors, eating highly digestible proteins will help reduce both the amount of stool and its smell.
  • Healthy Nutrition for Outdoor Cats
  • Cats that are able to go outdoors spend more energy than those who stay inside. A food that’s more dense in energy is therefore recommended. Increasing the volume of food with a low energy density, such as an indoor cat formula, isn’t a solution for feeding outdoor cats as it can lead to a decrease of the digestive efficiency. Nutrients that specifically support healthy joints can benefit a very active outdoor cat. Select nutrients and antioxidants can bolster the skin barrier to help outdoor cats cope better. Just being outside leaves them open to possibly receiving a small wound or exposing them to harmful bodies, like external parasites.

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Caring for your Scottish Fold

Grooming, training and exercise tips

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Given their thick fabulous fur, grooming a Scottish Fold cat is an enjoyable task for sure. The breed comes in a short-haired and long-haired variety but each has the same docile nature that makes them cooperative from start to finish. For the short-haired, running a steel comb through their fur once a week is sufficient; the longer-haired will need a few more comb-throughs during the week. What cannot be ignored:  cleaning those prized ears, a top priority. Their folded state means checking them frequently is a must, and using ear lotion and cotton to do so keeps them their cleanest. Nail trims can be done as needed to keep the claws manicured well. Good grooming is part of keeping any health problems for the Scottish Fold at bay.

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That devoted gaze from this sweet breed means one thing:  We’re in this together. Training the Scottish Fold is certain to be an effortless task given their desire to bond with their owner or their family. The breed values time with their humans tremendously, and seeks to please as much as they can. That kind of easy temperament is what has made the Scottish Fold one of the most popular breeds year after year.

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The Scottish Fold breed can be prone to gaining weight if their desire for food is too readily met - and that desire can sometimes be strong. As a cat who likes their meals, they should be exercised each day to keep in shape and keep the calories from spoiling their physique. Scottish Folds are generally indoor cats but that doesn’t mean that activity can’t happen in the living room as well. A solid round of play with her favorite toy or jingle ball and your Scottish Folds will stay on track as far as fitness is concerned.

All about Scottish Folds

The irresistible mug of the Scottish Fold makes them one of the world’s most sought-after felines. Heavy breeding of this cat has at times resulted in a sometimes stiff or painful tail, shortened limbs, an irregular gait, and the possible development of osteoarthritis early on in life. Speak to a responsible breeder who knows the family history of your new Scottish Fold cat.

The Scottish Fold gets rave reviews from those in the know for its very affectionate and gentle manner. They do tend to become very attached to their owner but are far from being needy. Scottish Fold cats respond especially well to training, as they are also touted for their smarts.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/