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Norwich Bulletin - 6/26/2005

The Scottish Fold

When you picture a Scottish Fold, you have to picture the word round. A round head, with large, round eyes - and a sturdy, well-padded round body. The Fold has a sweet expression that pretty much sums up their total personality. And, of course, they are unique because of those little, folded ears.

The small ears fold forward and down and set cap like on the head due to a natural genetic mutation. When they are first born, all Scottish Folds have straight ears and within three to four weeks, breeders discover which cats will have folded ears, and which will not.

In 1961 a shepherd in Scotland, William Ross, noticed a neighbor's white cat with folded ears. He was very interested in that Susie's mother's ears had been normal. When Susie had kittens, the Ross's took one of her folded kittens and began breeding her to local farm cats and a British Shorthair. This became the foundation line for the Scottish Fold and many lines can be traced back to this one cat.

The first Folds were actually working farm cats, and that would account for the hardy build and sweet disposition of today's cat. Breeding continued in Scotland, but Britain had concerns about ear health and deafness and so they banned the breed!

An English geneticist discovered that when two folded cats were bred together, approximately one third of the kittens developed skeletal problems, causing an arthritis type condition in the cats. Although it was also found that a folded cat and straight ear cat brought almost no problems, Britain literally ceased to breed the Folds. Even today, they are not recognized in the European based cat associations (GCCF and FIFe) and cannot be shown or win awards in either registry.

Here in the USA, the breed is recognized by the two largest cat associations, the Cat Fanciers' Association and the International Cat Association, and compete in the championship class.

The Scottish Fold was first brought to the United States in early 1970 and they were crossed with American Shorthairs, Persians and Exotics, continuing the round look of the cat. In order to "create" a fold, one of the cats must have the folded ear gene, and reputable breeders never breed folded ear to folded ear.

All of the kittens in the litter will not have folded ears, and with American and British Shorthairs still allowable outcrosses, there is a nice healthy gene pool available to these naturally sturdy medium to large cats.

What kind of a pet can you expect when you bring a Fold into your home? A sweet, affectionate, quiet and well mannered cat! A cat that is mellow, gentle and undemanding. The Scottish Fold has a low to medium activity level and is the perfect couch potato cat!

They are quick to adjust to new situations and are very people oriented. They like being with their human and are very curious about everything. But they really like their cat naps and are not real climbers. While the Abys and the Siamese are at the top of the cat trees, the Folds are happily curled up in the condos on the ground!

Scottish Folds adapt well to children and other pets and tend to be reserved, but very polite with strangers. When they look at you with their sweet expression and big owl eyes, they just melt your heart! They are easy to care for and even the long hair version is low maintenance. They are pretty much ideal companions.

Only the folded ear types may be shown in Championship Class, but the straight eared Folds have the same wonderful personalities and can do very well in the Household Pet Class.

Of course, you need to go to a reputable breeder and make sure that any kitten you purchase comes from a folded to straight eared breeding in order to avoid any health problems. You want to know about any possible medical problems in the line that might include PKD (Polycystic Kidney Disease) or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

This is a really sweet breed and great for people who are not hyperactive - to find out more about this unusual breed, attend a cat show - talk to breeders or log onto www.breedlist.com and go to Scottish Folds. Be very careful when choosing a purebred kitten!

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