Some people might think that the breed standards of the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) and The International Cat Association (TICA) prevent registered Scottish Fold cats suffering from osteochondrodysplasia but they don’t. The cat associations says that breeders should always mate a Scottish Fold with a non-Scottish fold cat in order to create a healthy cat. The offspring will be what is called a heterozygotes Scottish Fold.
It’s when they are homozygous that they are severely harmed through the defective maturation and function of cartilage all over their body particularly in the parts of the limbs most distant from the body and in the ears and tail. But the cat associations are arguably misleading people outside the cat fancy. Please read on.
All Scottish Folds suffer from osteochondrodysplasia
All Scottish Fold cats suffer from osteochondrodysplasia to some degree in the studies that I have read. For example, a study published in 2008 entitled: Osteochondrodysplasia in Scottish Fold cats, published online on the Wiley Online Library states:
“As all Scottish Fold cats suffered from osteochondrodysplasia of some degree, the best solution would be to avoid using fold-eared cats for breeding and instead use Scottish shorthairs.”
But even when you crossbreed the Scottish Fold the resultant Scottish Fold offspring still suffer from a milder form of osteochondrodysplasia. As the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare website states:
“Osteochondrodysplasia is seen in all Scottish fold cats which have a copy of the Fd gene, but homogyzous (Fd/Fd) cats are more severely affected than those that are heterozygous (Fd/fd) (Malik 2001, Takanosu et al 2008).”
It’s a question of severity as to whether they are heterozygous or homozygous. And, in a further study published on the Journal of Veterinary Medicine Science (Osteochondrodysplasia in Scottish Fold cross-breed cats) it is reported that:
“Cross breeding of Scottish Fold cats could produce unknown phenotypes, and should be avoided.”
The study referred to the crossbreeding of a Scottish Fold cat with a Munchkin cat. The latter is a dwarf purebred cat with shortened legs and a normal-sized body. The resultant offspring had folded ears like the Scottish Fold. The offspring suffered from a homozygous version of the osteochondrodysplasia. In another crossbreeding exercise, the Scottish Fold was mated with an American Curl purebred cat. Once again, the offspring were homozygous for osteochondrodysplasia. Both the offspring had severe health problems.
In the UK, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) does not accept the Scottish Fold. It is not listed on their website. Both the top American cat associations, the CFA and TICA accept the Scottish Fold despite these automatic health problems. The CFA rather half-heartedly state: “DISQUALIFY: kinked tail. Tail that is foreshortened. Tail that is lacking in flexibility due to abnormally thick vertebrae. Splayed toes, incorrect number of toes. Any evidence of illness or poor health. Palpable nose break.” In other words if the osteochondrodysplasia has noticeable symptoms the cat should be disqualified from competition at cat shows.
There is no treatment which can cure the disease but palliative care can be provided with drugs and radiation therapy which controls pain. A lengthy report is published online of a study in which three Scottish Fold cats were treated with palliative irradiation (Efficacy and Complications of Palliative Irradiation in Three Scottish Fold Cats with Osteochondrodysplasia). The treatments was successful in terms of reducing pain and allowing the cats to be more mobile. You can read about that by clicking on the following link: https://doi.org/10.1111%2Fjvim.13614
Drugs can be administered such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate. I am not a veterinarian but a good researcher! Please see your veterinarian about treating Scottish Fold cats if you look after one.
Phase out the breed
There is a strong argument which states that the Scottish should no longer be bred by any breeder anywhere and the breed should be discontinued by being phased out over, say, 5-10 years, so that the cat associations which register the breed can tell the world that they are truly concerned about cat welfare which is what they state on their websites.
Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.