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Scottish Fold breed profile

Everything to know about the cats named for their folded ears.

Whether your cat is a purebred Scottish Fold, or a Scottish Fold mix, learning about this breed can explain a lot about your pet’s personality, habits and overall health. 

One of the most distinguishable characteristics of a Scottish Fold cat is hinted at in their name. Scottish Folds are known for their folded ears, Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, says. 

“The characteristic folded ears of the Scottish Fold are a result of a genetic mutation that affects bone and cartilage throughout the body,” she adds. “Not every Scottish Fold kitten will have folded ears.”

Does this trait ring true for your pet? If so, that insight may not have surprised you, but the rest of our research just might.

History of Scottish Fold cats

Of course, Scotland is a big part of this cat breed's history, hence their name, but that's not where their roots began.

“Cats with folded ears first originated in China, and one was brought to the UK in the 1700s,” Dr. McCullough explains. “The Scottish Fold was first bred with domestic cats and British Shorthair cats in Scotland in the 1960s to create the breed.”

The average size of a Scottish Fold cat

It only takes Scottish Folds 18 months to reach their full maturity, which is quicker than other cat breeds – like Siberians or British Shorthairs, Dr. McCullough says. Pet parents (or future pet parents) should talk to their veterinarians to determine the correct diet for their growing cat. Scottish Folds are usually 10 to 30 inches long and can weigh anywhere between 5 to 11 pounds, she adds. 

What's a Scottish Fold’s fur like? 

Scottish Folds have soft fur that can either be long or short, Dr. McCullough says. This cat breed does shed and has allergens in their saliva, dander and skin, so they may not be a good fit for people with allergies. But, there isn't much maintenance required to take good care of their fur. 

“Overall Scottish Folds’ fur doesn’t need special care,” she explains. “Regular brushing should be done to remove loose fur and prevent mats.”

Most commonly, Scottish Folds have a blue coloring. But their fur can grow in various colors, including lavender, silver, fawn, blue, gray, black, ebony, cream, red, tabby, tortoiseshell and calico, Dr. McCullough says.

RELATED: Norwegian Forest cat

What are Scottish Folds’ ears like? 

Some Scottish Folds have ears that literally fold over, hence the typical "floppy ear cat" nickname, but some of these cats have more traditional erect ears. If your Scottish Fold has floppy ears, check them regularly as they can harbor a buildup of earwax and debris.

This cat breed's ear folds aren't the only reason their ears are unique — they actually used them to express themselves. 

“The Scottish Folds’ ears shift backward when they are scared or upset and move forward during excitement and play,” she adds. 

All pets deserve homes, but if you are looking for a Scottish Fold as a pet, we encourage you to adopt from a shelter. According to Dr. McCullough, breeding this cat is controversial because of the genetic bone and cartilage abnormalities accompanying their signature ear folds.

What color eyes do Scottish Fold cats usually have?

Scottish Folds’ eyes are usually green, a mix of blue and green, and gold, Dr. McCullough says. 

What are Scottish Folds’ personalities like? 

If you have other pets, they’re in luck if you welcome a Scottish Fold into your home. This cat breed generally gets along well with other pets, but you should always slowly and carefully introduce new pets to your existing pets at home. 

Generally, Scottish Folds like to cuddle, but they're also an energetic breed that likes to play games and explore, Dr. McCullough says. 

“Pet parents should encourage mental and physical stimulation by getting scratching posts, perches, cat trees and a variety of toys,” she shares. 

What are common health issues for Scottish Fold cats? 

According to Dr. McCullough, Scottish Folds can struggle with a cartilage and bone issue called osteochondrodysplasia (because of the gene that causes the ear fold). Unfortunately, there's no specific treatment, but veterinarians can recommend ways to manage the disease. For example, surgery, radiation therapy, pain medication or joint supplements may be recommended to improve a cat's mobility and reduce pain. 

This breed is also susceptible to polycystic kidney disease, which is when cysts form in the kidneys. Cat parents should talk to their vets about routine blood work to monitor their pet’s kidney levels. Scottish Folds may also struggle with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a disease that affects the heart muscle, which can be managed through heart medication. 

Scottish Folds can also develop arthritis in their tails, Dr. McCullough explains. So watch out for symptoms of tail arthritis, which include stiffness and pain if you touch or carry them. 

Adopting a Scottish Fold cat

Are you interested in adopting a Scottish Fold, Scottish Fold mix or any pet at all? Check out our shelter partners to find your new best friend.

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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