The Scottish Fold has been dubbed the “owl cat”. The ears are flat against the head creating an owl-like appearance. The breed is popular. It is becoming more popular and celebrities contribute to the process. Taylor Swift and her friend Ed Sheeran have helped to popularise the breed on social media.
But the Scottish government has signalled that ministers are looking at a change in the law regarding the breeding of purebred cats (note: this breed was ‘discovered’ in Scotland).
“There is currently no breeding ban on the Scottish Fold cat or restrictions on cat breeding in Scotland. However, we are currently considering the issue of pet breeding as part of an ongoing review of pet welfare”.
Other governments should review the matter as well. The gene mutation which gives this cat an adorable baby-like appearance can have an effect on parts of the cat’s anatomy other than the ears which has led to some veterinarians to decry the breeding of this cat (see: Osteochondrodysplasia in Scottish Fold Cats).
Richard Malik, a veterinary consultant at Sydney University, says that breeding Scottish Fold cats is cruel, ethically indefensible and simply perpetuating a disease state. He must believe that the breeders are being cruel. Many would agree. The cat associations don’t agree.
The Scottish SPCA agrees. They want Edinburgh officials to outlaw the practice. They argue that it is common for this breed to suffer from serious health problems. That is true. It does depend, however, upon the proficiency and ethical standards of the breeder.
As mentioned, scientists discovered that the abnormality in their ears may also be linked to problems with cartilage in the joints. Australian veterinarians first identified wrist and ankle problems in the 1990s.
I have a full discussion on the health implications of this gene mutation on my website and you can access that information by clicking on this link.
My thoughts about the Scottish Fold’s health problems and indeed the health problems of other dubious purebred cats such as the flat-faced Persian and the weedy looking Modern Siamese are that they should not be bred. Alternative versions of these two cats are available and they are more attractive and healthier.
This is breeding which has gone too far in the interests of trying to refine personal preferences regarding appearance. Breeding should prioritise welfare which in this instance means the health of the cat. The second priority is behavioural characteristics and the third should be appearance which should be subject to good health and good behaviour. I’d be happy for a ban on any of these cat breeds but my opinions are rather strong on the subject and probably out of step with the majority of cat lovers.