The Scottish Fold is a breed of cat with a natural mutation to its ears. The ear cartilage contains a fold so the ears bend forward and down towards the front of their head.
The original Scottish Fold was a long-haired white-haired barn cat named Susie, who was found at a farm near Coupar Angus in Perthshire, Scotland in 1961. Susie's ears had an unusual fold in their middle, making her resemble an owl. When Susie had kittens, two of them were born with folded ears, and one of the siblings was acquired by William Ross, a neighbouring farmer and cat-fancier.
Ross registered the breed with the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy in Great Britain and started to breed Scottish Fold kittens with the help of geneticist Pat Turner. The breeding program produced 76 kittens in the first three years, 42 of which had folded ears and 34 with straight ears.
The conclusion from this was that the ear mutation is due to a simple dominant gene. If one parent provides the gene for straight ears, and one parent provides the gene for folded ears, the kittens will be a Fold.
The breed was not accepted for showing in Great Britain and Europe as it was felt that they would be extremely prone to ear problems such as infection, mites and deafness, but the folds were exported to America and the breed continued to be established there using crosses with British Shorthair and the American Shorthair.
Scottish Folds can be either long or short-haired, and they may have any coat colour combination except for Siamese-style points. Pointed Folds have been bred but they are not eligible for showing. The original cats only had one fold in their ears, but due to selective breeding they have increased the fold to a double or triple crease that causes the ear to lie totally flat against the head. Scottish Folds, whether with folded ears or with normal ears, have typically a good temperament and placid character (often known for sleeping on their backs). They tend to become very attached to their human caregivers and are by nature quite affectionate. Scottish Folds typically have soft voices and display a complex repertoire of mewing sounds and purring not found in better-known breeds.
There are a few medical problem that have been found to be related to Scottish Fold breeding. If both parents have folded ears, their kittens will be extremely prone to developing a painful degenerative joint disease that fuses the tail, ankles and knees. This condition also affects Scottish folds with one copy of the fold gene, to a lesser degree, and is the reason the breed is not accepted by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy and the Fédération Internationale Féline. They can also be inflicted by cardiomyopathy, a defect of the heart. A further ailment can be a polycystic kidney disease. Kittens should be monitored for each of these defects.
The Scottish Fold cat breed makes a playful and loyal companion. They are beautiful to behold and loveable too.
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