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Getting to Know the Scottish Fold

By Jean Grimm
from The Cat Fanciers' Association Complete Cat Book Scottish Fold

No one can forget their first encounter with a Scottish Fold. It is such an unusual looking cat with its tiny folded ears and large round eyes that people often have to look a second time to make sure this beautiful cat is actually real and not a stuffed toy or some sort of exotic creature. It truly is an actual cat with very humble origins as a Scottish farm cat.

All aspects of the Scottish Fold are round with the head appearing even rounder because of the cap-like fit of the forward folding ears. Even the tips of the ear are gently rounded. The neck is short and blends into a round, well-padded body. The cat stands firmly on strong legs with a wide stance, which reflects the wide breadth of the body. The chest is deep; the body is the same width from shoulder to hips. The legs are straight, strong and the rounded paws have five toes in the front and four in the back. The back legs are slightly angled at the hock and appear straight when seen from the back. The tail, in proportion to the body, is also rounded with a moderate taper. It is important that the tail be flexible and without kinks or anomalies. Whether kitten or adult, the Scottish Fold is always a solid, well-balanced cat.

The sweet, open expression on the Fold's face is found in both male and female. Its eyes are especially appealing. Their eyes are large and round. Without the distraction of upright ears, they almost seem to overwhelm the face. Even in the straight-eared Folds, the eyes are unusual and dominating. The cats are sometimes compared to owls with their round and luminous eyes. The kittens especially are often described as "all eyes."

The folded ears are of course the reason these cats exist as a breed, but not all kittens will grow up with folded ears. These will be the straight-eared variety of the breed. These straight-eared cats are also wonderful pets and are also used for breeding as one parent must be straight eared and the other parent fold eared. Even with straight ears, these kittens are easily identified as coming from a Scottish Fold litter. They have the same endearing features and the same chubby round bodies. Both varieties of kitten are often acquired together making an interesting and attractive pair.

The ears are the Scottish Fold's most arresting feature. They fold forward and downward over the top of the head in a rounded cap-like shape which follows closely the contour of the head. They are small and rounded at the tip. There are variations in the degree of individual folding, but the show cat will display the greatest degree of folding. More important than the actual degree of folding is the way the ears fit the curve of the head. The ears should fit like a cap, enhancing the rounded structure of the head. They should not be too close together but rather blend around the natural curve of the head. These ears are very soft and when touched feel exactly like any non-folded cat's ears. They are not clamped tightly against the head and their shape or position do not affect hearing.

The overall appearance of the Scottish Fold is based on the European type as found in the British Shorthair. The domestic cat of England is a heavy well-padded cat with a coat heavy enough to protect against inclement weather. The first Scottish Fold breeders often used whatever they had available to perpetuate the ear mutation. The first crosses included the local domestic and the most obvious choice, the British Shorthair. An Exotic, a Burmese and Persians were recorded in the first generations. Breeding goals were established in 1976 and outcrosses were restricted to the British Shorthair and the American Shorthair.

Many options can be found in the combinations of Scottish Fold coats. First, there is the choice between longhair or shorthair and second there is the choice among a wonderful array of colors. The early influence of the British Shorthair and the Persian helped determine that the cats would have heavy thick coats. In the longhaired version, the length and distribution is modified to produce a coat, which is fullest and longest around the ruff and britches with the coat draping softly without the long heavy bluntness of a Persian cat's coat. The longhaired cat will also sport toe tufts and ear tufts. If it is possible to imagine anything more enchanting in appearance than the shorthaired Scottish Fold, the same cat wearing longhair goes one step beyond.

Another bonus in coat consideration is the array of colors. Colors from many sources were combined and allowed in the development of the Scottish Fold. Only the colors lilac or chocolate and the evidence of the colorpoint gene, as seen in the Siamese, are not permitted. Colors include the usual solid colors and tabby patterns available with or without the combination of white. In eye color; gold and green or blue-green are found in the solid color and tabby marked cats with blue, copper and odd eyes found in the whites, vans and bi-colors.

Their Personality

Scottish Fold

If you choose to include a Scottish Fold in your life, do not expect a curtain-climbing, dare-devil, constant-clinging sort of cat. You can expect a playful, friendly companion who will thrive on attention and love. A Scottish Fold is never haughty or standoffish, but sometimes reserved and careful how it shares its love. It enjoys the company of people and will bond with all family members but will not take to rough handling or rude remarks about its unusual ears. They can adapt well to other family pets though other cats are sometimes surprised by their first view of a cat with folded ears, that being an accepted angry sign among cats.

Scottish Fold kittens are as adventurous and as playful as are all kittens. If you want a cozy lap cuddler, try installing the interest at an early age. One potential kitten shopper once listed these desired qualities: a kitten which did not shed, did not scratch the rugs, did not deposit hair balls on the rugs, would come when called and sit endlessly on her lap. A stuffed toy was suggested instead of a live kitten.


Grooming is basically the same for the longhair and the shorthair variety of Scottish Fold. The longhair will naturally require more combing and a longer drying time than the shorthair. All cats should be conditioned at an early age to tolerate bathing, nail clipping and ear cleaning. Cleaning the Scottish Fold's ear is simple, especially if the cat has been accustomed to having them handled at an early age. The tip of the ear is held between two fingers and gently drawn upward to reveal the ear opening underneath. The inside of the ear should be wiped out carefully with a cotton swab or a damp cloth. Clean only the outer visible surfaces.

Bathing should start when the cat is still a kitten. A deep sink with a good rubber mat on the bottom can be filled with warm water before the cat is introduced. Wet the cat and lather it up with a gentle cat shampoo. Rinsing can be done in another sink of water or with a spray attachment. Towel the cat thoroughly and finish with an electric dryer and a comb until the coat is completely dry. Here is a very important hint: clip the nails before the bath. You will find that the upkeep for the Scottish Fold is easy.

Scottish Folds are not finicky eaters. In fact, care must be taken to help them keep in condition by not overeating, in view of their docile and not too active life style. These cats, as with all pedigreed cats, should never be left outdoors. They traded in their street smarts in exchange for life by the fireside many generations ago. Their cat instincts remain very strong and they will actively admire every bird that comes near the window and will be delighted if a mouse finds its way inside to play with them. They have been observed to be fully capable of performing the same rodent control their British relations are so prized for.

You may expect a long life span from your Scottish Fold. Many are known to have reached the age of fifteen to eighteen years old.

When handling the Scottish Fold, always carry them with both hands or tucked against one hip with an arm around them. These are heavy, compact cats and will not appreciate casual handling. Setting them down rather than dropping them is the considerate thing to do for all cats.

The show Scottish Fold must approximate the CFA standard as closely as possible. As with all competition cats, it must be presented in excellent health. There is no tolerance in the ring for a cat presented with less than perfect grooming or with any evidence of illness or parasites. Judges will withhold awards or disqualify a cat when presented with any of these situations. A cat's disposition is of great importance. If a cat is hostile or frightened it can not present itself well to a show judge. There are show rules that deal with aggressive hostile behavior and judges will dismiss cats behaving in such fashion.

A cat competing in show should be carried to the ring using a two handed hold. A judge will not stretch the cat, as is the method for an Oriental, but will allow the cat to stand by itself to show off its sturdy confirmation. The judge may lift the show cat by placing a hand under the front legs to check for soundness of the back legs and gauge the chest width. Show cats should be accustomed to responding to the movements of toys or feathers, which the judge may use to further examine mobility and expression.

Breed History

The appearance of a domestic cat with folded ears in Scotland in 1961 introduced a new breed to the Cat Fancy. The first known Scottish Fold was a copper-eyed white female named Susie. She was discovered on a farm in Coupar Angus in the Tayside Region of Perthshire in Scotland. There was a second folded ear kitten in the litter, a male, but he had already vanished when Susie was noticed by William Ross, a shepherd and neighbor of Susie's owners, the McRaes.

The Scottish Fold was granted CFA Registration Status in 1974. On October 16, 1976, the breed was accepted for CFA Provisional Status. CFA Championship Status was conferred in October of 1977, thereby allowing the Scottish Fold to begin competition in the new show year, which started in May of 1978. The shorthair version of the Scottish Fold was the first accepted division even though the longhair version had been present in the early generations. The longhair version gained acceptance first as a breed called the Highland Fold in 1991. In the following year, The CFA Highland Fold designation was dropped in favor of creating two divisions in which the Scottish Fold now compete, the Longhair Division and the Shorthair Division. The first National win achieved by a Scottish Fold was in 1979.

The Scottish Fold has become an important and popular addition to the ranks of show cats as well as a beautiful, delightful companion in our homes. They are as undemanding and loving as they are beautiful. It was a special day when a little white Scottish farm cat introduced a new breed into our homes and hearts. If you decide the Scottish Fold is the right cat for you, you will have chosen well.

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