Scottish fold cats are known for their trademark folded ears that make for an adorable look. They have round faces and big round eyes, and their folded ears make them appear even rounder. In fact, they’re often compared to teddy bears or owls. Because of their cute appearance and sweet temperament, they’re very sought-after and beloved by many.
Their ears are their signature feature, and they’re completely fascinating. But there are other interesting facts to know about these kitties. How much do you know about Scottish fold cats? Read on to learn nine surprising facts about them!
1. They all have one common ancestor: Susie
While cats with folded ears date back to the 1700s, Scottish fold cats first came about in the 1960s. In 1961 in Perthshire, Scotland, a kitten with folded ears was discovered in a litter of non-folded cats. This kitten was named Susie. She was bred with other cats to develop the breed, and subsequently, all Scottish fold cats have her as a common ancestor.1. They all have one common ancestor: Susie
2. The fold is due to a mutation
According to The International Cat Association, “The folded ear is a spontaneous mutation and comes from an incompletely dominant gene that results in both folded and straight-eared cats.” While the most obvious impact of this mutation is the fold, it can also affect the rest of the body. In particular, Scottish Fold cats may have cartilage abnormalities.
3. They’re born with straight ears
While Scottish fold cats are known for their signature folded ears, they’re actually born with straight ears. The fold begins to develop when the kitten is between 18 and 24 days old, but only if they have the gene that is responsible for the fold. Oftentimes, their ears will stay straight, in which case they’re known as Scottish shorthairs. In general, about 50% of a litter with one Scottish fold parent will have folded ears and the other 50% will not.
4. Scottish folds are never bred together
Scottish fold cats are never bred together for ethical concerns, as offspring may be born with degenerative issues. Scottish fold cats are usually bred with either American shorthairs or British shorthairs. Since they’re always bred with other breeds, not all kittens in their litters will have folded ears. Subsequently, Scottish fold cats remain rather rare.
5. There are three degrees of folds
Their ear folds are categorized into three types: single, double, and triple. According to MIT, “Today’s folds have ear folds ranging from the loose single fold to the very tight triple fold which is seen in the show quality cats.”
A single fold is just a slight fold that only involves the tips of the ears. A double fold ear has a more prominent bend than a single fold ear, with about half of the ear-bending downward. A triple-fold ear lies flat against the head, making the head appear rounder. Scottish fold cats didn’t always have sharply folded ears; they have become a fixture in these cats through years of selective breeding, with breeders choosing only cats with double and triple folds.
6. They sit like humans
Scottish folds are known for their sweet personalities and fun quirks. Oftentimes, they’ll sit up prairie-dog style in order to improve their vantage point when they hear a noise. They also famously sit like humans, which Scottish fold owners have lovingly dubbed “The Buddha Sit.”
7. They need a gentle touch
While Scottish Fold cats aren’t necessarily delicate, they do require gentle handling, particularly in regard to the tail, which can sometimes be stiff. When purchasing a Scottish Fold cat, it is wise to test the flexibility of their tail, but it’s imperative to be gentle. If they’re handled too rough, it can cause serious pain.
There are plenty of ways to connect with a Scottish Fold that won’t cause it any discomfort. When in doubt, always be gentle with them.
8. They’re the only folded-ear cats that can show
While Scottish Fold cats aren’t the only known cats with folded ears, they are the most established breed with folds. A number of folded-ear cats of Chinese origin have been recorded, but unlike Scottish fold cats, they have not been developed as a breed.
“Presently, only folded ear cats of Scottish lineage are permitted in the show ring,” says the Cat Fancier’s Association (CFA). More specifically, only Scottish Fold cats with triple folds are deemed show quality.
9. They’re T-Swift approved
Pop star Taylor Swift isn’t the only famous one in her household—her two Scottish fold cats have become fan favorites, too. Named after primetime drama characters, Meredith Grey and Olivia Benson are always by Swift’s side. They’ve even been featured in photoshoots and commercials. Early in 2019, Swift adopted a third cat named Benjamin Button. He’s not a Scottish fold, he’s a Ragdoll, but he seems to be fitting into the crew just fine.
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