The Scottish Fold: A Quiet Cat with Unique Folded Ears

The Scottish Fold is something of a rarity, more likely to be seen at shows than as a house cat. The breed is known for its loyal nature

The Scottish Fold: A Quiet Cat with Unique Folded Ears

Due to a rare genetic mutation, the ears of this breed fold forward to fit like a cap over the skull, producing a unique round-headed look. Scottish Folds are always born with straight ears that, in kittens carrying the folded-ear gene, begin to flatten forward within about three weeks. Cats that remain straight-eared are known as Scottish Straights.

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Most cats have short hair, whether they are large or small, wild or domestic. This is an evolutionary development that makes sense for a natural predator relying on stealth and the occasional burst of speed. A hunting cat is more efficient in a short coat because it can glide unhampered through dense terrain and move freely for a rapid pounce in a tight corner.

Breed History

Originating from Pertshire in Tayside Scotland, the first Folds were reported in 1961.

The first Fold cat to be discovered was an all-white, long-haired female, known as Susie, that was born on a Scottish farm in the 1960s. At first, this cat and the folded ear kittens she produced attracted only local interest, but then geneticists began taking notice, and some of Susie’s descendants were sent to the US.

Later, crosses to American Shorthair cats were carried out. Here, the breed was established, using crosses between Folds and British and American Shorthairs.

During the development of the Scottish Fold, a long-coated version also emerged.

These cats need careful breeding to avoid certain skeletal problems linked to the gene responsible for ear folding, and due to this risk, they do not meet with the approval of all breed authorities.

First cats were exported to America in 1971. The GCCF in Britain discontinued registry of the breed in 1973 due to the effects of the gene on cartilage elsewhere in the body. The CFA granted provisional status in 1977 and accepted the Scottish Fold for championship status later.

Breeders are still allowed to outcross to American and British Shorthairs, and in some registries, Exotic Shorthairs.

Physical Characteristics


Female 6-9 lb (2.5-4 kg), male 9-13 lb (4-6 kg)


Both a longhair and a shorthair type occur in this breed where registries have not split the Highland Fold out into a separate breed. In the shorthaired cat, the coat is dense, short-medium, standoff, and very soft and plush. Texture may vary somewhat. Note the Longhair is not accepted in all registries. All colors are accepted excluding pointed or Oriental colors; except the CFF registry which allows pointed cats.


Large, round and all colors accepted, and eye pigmentation corresponds to coat color.

Points of Conformation

This is a medium-sized cat.

The head is large, round, and the nose is short, and broad. Muzzle is short, with well-developed cheeks.

The ears are small-medium with rounded tips, the fold results in ears sitting down and forward with tips towards the nose. Single fold ears approximate the original wild type, progressively more tightly folded ears are called double fold and triple fold; the latter being the show type. The forwardly curved ear sitting cap-like over the temples resulted from an autosomal dominant mutation (Fd) with incomplete penetrance.

Every litter will have some straight ears. Folding of the ears occurs between 14-28 days and usually is set by 3-4 months in the kittens. Not all ears stay folded; some pop back up to a straight position. Tail is medium long, flexible, bushy and tapering with a rounded tip. Folds have muscular and stocky conformation.

About one half of the offspring will have straight ears in a Fold X straight mating; these cats are termed Scottish Fold Variants, and are important for breeding not showing.


The Scottish Fold has low grooming needs, just weekly brushing is required, though more frequent care may be needed during shedding. One should monitor ear health.

Breed Behaviour and Traits