Scottish Fold

PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial on Jul. 16, 2008

Physical Characteristics

The Scottish Fold breed is recognized by its medium-sized body and unusual ears, which fold forward and downward, and are quite small. The ears begin to fold when they are three weeks old, pricking up at sudden noises and then laying back to display anger. Most Scottish Folds also have short, silky hair, but there is a long-haired variety as well, known as the Scottish Fold Longhair. And while originally bred to have white coats, it can now be seen in a variety of colors.

Personality and Temperament

The Scottish Fold cat is gentle, intelligent and docile. Extremely flexible and well-adjusted, the Scottish Fold cat is also very affectionate. And though it can get extremely attached to you, it will not be a pest or a nuisance. Like many other cats, it enjoys playing, but is especially responsive to training.


The Scottish Fold breed can suffer from health problems, especially due to faulty breeding. (Crossing within the same breed can often causes deformities.) Folds that inherit the folded ear gene from both parents (homozygous Folds) are much more likely to develop congenital osteodystrophy -- a genetic condition which causes the bones to distort and enlarge. Early warning signs include a thickness or lack of mobility of the legs or tail.

History and Background

The breed was discovered accidentally in 1961 by William Ross, a Scottish farmer. He noticed a white cat, named Suzie, with unusual folded ears in his neighbor's farm near Coupar Angus, in the Tayside Region of Scotland. Suzie's ancestry was uncertain, but her mother was identified as a straight, white-haired cat. Ross was so intrigued with the cat, that he purchased a kitten from Suzie's next litter -- a kitten which also possessed its mother’s traits. He than began a breeding program with his cat, Snooks, and attended various cat shows.

Ross named the breed "lop eared" after a variety of rabbit and in 1966, registered the new breed with the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF). (The breed was later renamed the Scottish Fold.) Unfortunately, the GCCF stopped registering the breed in the early 1970s due to concerns over ear disorders (i.e., infections, mites, and hearing problems).

The Scottish Fold breed also came to America in 1970, when three of Snook's kittens were sent to Dr. Neil Todd at the Carnivore Genetics Research Center in Massachusetts. He was conducting research on spontaneous mutations. And although his research with the Folds did not garner favorable results, Todd did find good homes for each of the cats. One particular cat, a female named Hester, was given to Salle Wolfe Peters, a well-known Manx breeder in Pennsylvania. Peters was later credited with establishing this breed in America.

The Scottish Fold was granted Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) recognition in 1973, and in 1978, was bestowed the championship status. The long-haired version of the cat was not recognized until the mid-1980s, but both types are now quite popular.

The American Cat Fanciers Association, American Association of Cat Enthusiasts, and United Feline Organization all refer to the breed as the Highland Fold.

Meanwhile, the International Cat Association, National Cat Fanciers Association, American Cat Association, Canadian Cat Association and CFA call the breed the Scottish Fold Longhair; the Cat Fanciers Federation refers to it as the Longhair Fold.

Canadian breeders sometimes call it the Coupari.

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