About the Scottish Fold Cat
The Scottish Fold, also known as the Coupari and the Highland Fold, is distinguished by its unique ears. These short ears fold forward and downward over the Scottish Fold’s head, with the ear tips pointing towards its nose, giving it the endearing expression of a pixie, an owl or a teddy bear. This relatively new feline breed is treasured not only for its unusual appearance, but also for its sociable temperament and ability to adjust happily to almost any type of new situation.
The Scottish Fold has a medium-sized body and a cobby build. It is fairly short in stature. It has thick, short legs when compared to a relatively long body, and its tail also tends to be short and thick, averaging about two thirds of its body in length. These cats have large, luminous copper or orange eyes and rounded heads with distinctively full, chubby cheeks and slightly turned-up noses. Their short, thick coats are dense, resilient and easy to care for. Occasionally, long-haired kittens are born in litters of Scottish Folds. Kittens with normally-shaped ears can also be littermates with folded ear kittens. All Scottish Folds are born with straight ears; they do not begin to fold until the kittens are around 3 or 4 weeks of age. Only folded-eared Scottish Folds are accepted in the show ring. However, the prick-eared Folds are valuable to dedicated breeding programs.
Scottish Folds are normally affectionate, calm and well-behaved. They are highly personable and tend to bond well with their entire human and companion pet family. They are hardy animals, owing this in part to their barn cat ancestors. Scottish Folds typically are content in almost any type of household – rural or urban, busy or quiet. They do well in noisy homes with children and/or other cats and dogs, although they also seem to be just as pleased to be an only pet in a one-person household. While Scottish Folds appreciate attention, affection and play time, they can be quite content to spend their days alone at home napping, while their owners are at work. The Scottish Fold has a very slight, soft meow and is not a particularly vocal breed.
Scottish Folds are stocky, short-legged and fairly placid cats. They of course have their bursts of energy at times, but they are not one of the more active domestic feline breeds. Scottish Folds seem to prefer lounging rather than romping and are better known for their loving, caring, docile dispositions than for their athletic abilities.
This breed does not have any particular behavioral traits that distinguish them from other companion cat breeds. They are even-tempered and adaptable and beloved by all who know them.
The first known Scottish Fold was born in 1961, to a litter of farm cats near Coupar Angus in the Tayside region of Scotland, northwest of Dundee. After a few weeks, the farmer noticed that one of his white female kittens had small, strange ears that were folded distinctively downwards towards her face. He named her Susie. When Susie matured and had kittens of her, one or two of her babies were also white with folded ears. One of the farmer’s neighbors, William Ross, who was a shepherd and a cat fancier, became interested in these unique-looking cats and decided to try to selectively develop a new cat breed with the folded ear trait and other consistently reproducible breed characteristics. He acquired one of these white folded-ear kittens and brought her into his breeding program. He called her Snooks. Mr. Ross bred Snooks to a British Blue Shorthair, and with those kittens he continued developing the new breed.
During the early days of the Scottish Fold’s development, outcrosses with other non-pedigreed shorthairs were made. Eventually, purebred British Shorthairs were incorporated to help standardize the Scottish Fold’s type. Since that time, the Scottish Fold has been recognized as its own breed, with defined breed standards. The Scottish Fold was granted championship status by the Cat Fanciers’ Association of the United States (CFA) in 1978, and by the Cat Association of Britain in 1984. The CFA only accepts outcrosses to British and American Shorthairs in the pedigrees of registered Scottish Folds, in addition to matings with prick-eared cats from Scottish Fold litters.
While Scottish Folds are quite popular in the United States, they have not gained as much recognition in the United Kingdom, despite the fact that Scotland is their country of origin. This may in part be due to the reluctance of the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy in the United Kingdom to wholeheartedly endorse the breed, because of its predisposition to hereditary skeletal defects.
Scottish Folds have a normal life expectancy, averaging about 15 years. The gene responsible for the folded ears is incompletely dominant and can cause cartilage and skeletal abnormalities in some cats, even if only one of the parents is a Scottish Fold. The most common defect is a short, thickened tail that is not as flexible as that in a normal cat. Other abnormalities can include coarse leg bones and splayed toes.