What are Scottish Fold cats?

Scottish Fold

Choosing the right cat for you and your family can be a tough choice. Indeed, there are so many breeds out there, you might be tempted to just pick the prettiest one, or the one that stands out from the crowd. But, as with so many animals, sometimes the thing that makes them so cute is also the thing that can have big implications on their health.

The Scottish Fold cat is a great example of this. In this article we’ll learn more about this fascinating breed, the role genetics play in its unique appearance and tips on how to care for these little cuties.

Cat insurance helps you to give your kitty the care it deserves throughout its life. And did you know our Gold products have recently been awarded a 5* Defaqto rating for 2021? Why not get a quick quote today?

Scottish Fold

When did the breed first appear?

If you own a Scottish Fold cat and want to trace its family tree then you’re in luck. You’ll only need to go as far back as Scotland in the 1960s and a special white barn cat called Susie! In 1961, shepherd and cat enthusiast William Ross was so intrigued by Susie’s oh-so-distinctive folded ears that when she had kittens, he adopted one.

He named the kitten Snooks and bred her with a British Shorthair to create the very first Scottish Fold cat. By 1966, Ross was registering his cats with the UK’s pedigree cat registry, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF). However, this stopped in the early 1970s when the GCCF stopped registering them due to health concerns.

Despite this setback the breed was soon introduced to the US where its popularity went from strength to strength. From an obscure Scottish barn to international Instagram fame, this breed has certainly come a long way in a short time.

What makes this breed different to other cats? Why are they so popular?

Obviously, the first thing you’ll notice about a Scottish Fold is its folded ears. While the original cats had only one loose fold in their ears, over the year’s breeders have increased this to a double or even triple fold. But the folds are no accident; they're a genetic mutation that affects the cartilage of the ears and causes them to fold forward and downward.

Cats with a triple fold are more sought after as the folding results in the ears sitting almost flat against the head. This, along with their particularly rounded eyes and head, gives the cats an owl-like appearance that has proved very popular with owners.

Interestingly, all Scottish Folds are born with straight ears and it's not until they’re 18 to 24 days old that the fold begins to develop. And only if the kitten has the right gene. In general, only half the kittens in a litter will have the gene. This means the Scottish Fold is still a comparatively rare cat.

But it’s not just their ears and rarity that makes them so sought after. They have a quirky habit of lying and sitting in some very strange positions and are surprisingly chilled out about dressing up – perfect for Insta-moments.

Adopting a meerkat pose on their hind legs is popular, but our favourite is the so-called ‘Buddha Sit’ – Google it and you’ll see why!

Does this breed have any health problems?

Just as with many pedigree cats and dogs, while selective breeding has resulted in some popular traits it can also mean health problems. If you think you might want to bring one of these sweet creatures home, then you need to be aware of these.

Cat insurance policies from Purely Pets can cover a whole range of conditions, but it’s always better to know what you’re getting yourself into.


Probably the most well-known problem that can develop is this degenerative joint disease. Unfortunately, the same gene mutation that causes the ears to fold also affects the cartilage and bones throughout their body.

While breeders have worked hard to eliminate problems with stiff or shortened tails and bone lesions, issues still remain with the breed.

Even if your cat doesn’t seem to be affected, regular check ups with your vet will help spot the condition as soon as it develops. Having cat insurance in place means you can get the right help, and quickly.

Autosomal Dominant Polycystic kidney disease (AD-PKD)

Usually developing in affected cats between the ages of 3 and 10 years, AD-PKD is an inherited condition causing cysts to form in the kidneys. There are treatments available to help affected cats have a happy and healthy life, but currently there is no cure.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)

HCM is a form of heart disease that occurs in many cat breeds, including the Scottish Fold. It causes the heart muscle to become thick and stops it working properly. While treatment is available, there is no cure and the condition can lead to heart failure.

Caring for a Scottish Fold cat

While Scottish Folds have their own particular health concerns, they are in general a healthy breed and can live to around 15 years of age. But as with any animal they need proper care to have a healthy life. Any responsible owner of a Scottish Fold will make sure they have adequate cat insurance in place to cover any issues.

Scottish Fold Kitten

What does a Scottish Fold cat eat?

As with any pet the diet of a Scottish Fold will vary depending on their age, health condition and weight. It’s normally recommended to feed them a high protein, low carbohydrate, low-calorie food, but discuss this with your vet. One of the many benefits of cat insurance from Purely Pets is that special diets can also be covered in any lifetime plan.

Whatever you feed them you’ll still need to watch their weight. Joint conditions could get worse if your puss piles on the pounds.

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How much grooming does a Scottish Fold cat need?

Scottish Folds can come in both long- and short-haired varieties and have a whole range of coat colours. A weekly brush is probably enough to remove any dead hair, distribute skin oils and keep a short-haired cat’s thick, soft fur in good shape.

The long-haired variety, sometimes called the Highland Fold, will require more attention from their carer. These Folds will have longer and exceptionally dense fur around their upper thighs, along with toe tufts, a tail plume, ear tufts, and even a ruff around their neck.

All that fur will need brushing a couple of times a week at least to prevent painful tangles.

But it’s not just the fur that needs some TLC from owners. Many Scottish Fold owners brush their cat’s teeth at least once a week and will trim their nails every couple of weeks. Keeping on top of such jobs is a good way to stop problems from developing.

Those saucer-like eyes can have a tendency to water. If you notice a discharge then carefully wipe the corners of their eyes using a soft, damp cloth. Take care to use a separate cloth to clean each eye to prevent the spread of any possible infection.

Did you know that a Scottish Fold’s eye colour depends very much on the colour of their coat? Indeed, some Scottish Folds even have blue or odd coloured eyes!

Finally, those super cute folded ears also need to be checked and cared for every week. Particularly if your perfect puss’ ears are tightly folded, you’ll need to make sure they’re kept clean. Just as with their eyes, use a soft, damp cloth or cotton wool to clean the ears.

Perhaps using a 50/50 mixture of cider vinegar and warm water or an ear cleaner recommended by your vet.

And don’t go using a cotton bud, you don’t want to damage your cat’s sensitive inner ear.

If you need any advice, cat insurance policy holders have access to our Purely Pets 24-Hour Vet Helpline for guidance from our trained veterinary professionals.

How much exercise does a Scottish Fold need?

As moderately active, sociable and friendly cats your Scottish Fold will enjoy playing with and exploring new toys. Particularly if they are kept as an indoor cat, you’ll need to provide them with plenty of stimulation and a cat tree or perch for entertainment.

They are known for being smarter than the average cat and can even be taught tricks given time, patience and a few treats! With their quirky and intelligent nature, they’re a social media favourite. Who knows, with the right training your cat could even be the next YouTube sensation! 

Many owners keep Scottish Folds as indoor cats, so it’s vital to keep their litter tray spotlessly clean. Cats are particularly hygienic animals and will only want to use a tidy tray! It’ll also stop their fur from getting dirty and matted.

Scottish Fold Cat

Do Scottish Fold cats get on with dogs and other cats?

In general, Scottish Folds are considered to have an easy-going and good-natured temperament, getting on well with children and other pets – if treated gently and respectfully. They are very affectionate and love being around their owners, so they can get lonely if left alone for too long.

Celebrities and their Scottish Fold cats

It’s not just Downing Street cats and Presidential dogs who often find themselves in the spotlight. The world of modern celebrity goes hand-in-paw with pet ownership. After all, celebrity life isn’t complete without a furry friend to share the red carpet with.

With their adorable looks and quirky characters, the Scottish Fold is almost designed for life on the front page. So here’s a quick rundown of some of their most famous owners.

Travelling with their own customised luggage and frequenting only the best celebrity parties, the music megastar Taylor Swift’s Scottish Folds Olivia Benson and Meredith Gray are living charmed lives indeed. Swifts’ 50 million Instagram followers clearly agree as the cats win millions of likes each time they appear on her Instafeed – come for the music, stay for the cats!

Meanwhile, Ed Sheeran’s Scottish Fold cat Calippo and his best friend Dorito also have their own Instagram account to document their animal adventures. While they might not be reaching the heights set by Grumpy Cat or Lil Bub, with over 300,000 followers they’re proving popular!

But what about Scottish Fold cats who are famous in their own right? Social media loves Scottish Folds and there are plenty out there lapping up the likes. But perhaps the most famous is Maru, a male straight-eared Scottish Fold living in Japan.

He has become internationally famous for his funny activities and absolute obsession with cardboard boxes. It’s well worth checking out his YouTube videos under the name mugumogu. They’ve been viewed hundreds of millions of times. At one point he even held the title of most watched animal on YouTube!

Should the Scottish Fold cat breed be banned?

Ever since the breed first emerged there has been controversy over its health problems. Indeed, most responsible breeders now would never breed a Scottish Fold with another in view of the problems that can arise.

With their distinctive looks and appearances in the gossip pages there have even been calls for the breeding of Scottish Folds to be stopped. While the British Veterinary Association has urged animal lovers to avoid buying pets with ‘extreme designer features’.

If you do decide to purchase one of these lovable creatures, always buy from a reputable breeder and take it to your vet for regular health checks.

Cat insurance from Purely Pets

All cats will need to visit the vet at some point in their lives. Researching the right breed for you is all part of being a responsible pet owner. Taking on a cat or dog is a big commitment both in terms of time and money.

Cat insurance can help cover the costs if your cat needs medical treatment or emergency care. Other benefits of cat insurance through Purely Pets includes excess from as little as £60 and an online customer policy portal, so you can manage your policy at a time to suit you.

Call the team for a quote today.

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