We are told that a black domestic cat called ‘Flathead’ is the latest cat celebrity because his ears are not erect but lie horizontally on his head like Baby Yoda in star Wars.
The online news media refer to a ‘mysterious mutation’ which causes these strange looking Yodaesque ears. I am going to stick my neck out and am prepared to be shot down by saying that Flathead is a Scottish Fold.
He is not a registered, purebred Scottish Fold but a random bred cat who carries the Scottish Fold gene signified by the symbols Fd. This is a dominant gene which results in half the litter having the mutated gene’s characteristics.
Flathead’s ears don’t fold down completely as they should for this breed but half way. This happens sometimes and you will see Scottish Folds with similar ear flap configurations. In a strict sense these are failed cats from a breeders perspective but Flathead was not selectively bred by randomly bred.
Here is a purbred Scottish Fold photographed by Helmi Flick:
The gene affects the cat’s cartilage production making the cartilage weaker. It is not stiff enough to keep the ear flaps erect. It can also affect cartilage in other parts of the cat’s body which has a negative impact on the cat’s health. My theory can be tested by asking if 50% of Flathead’s littermate have similar ears but we probably won’t find out.
This adorable cat lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His human caretaker is Julie Smith who said:
A few people have said he looks like Baby Yoda – and it’s a pretty good match. He is completely healthy, so we assume the mutation is just an adorable quirk! We’ve done a lot of research to try and find other cats born with a similar trait, but haven’t found anything.
He’s a Scot Fold, that’s the answer. And it is nice to see a black cat being adored. Incidentally there are calls for the Scottish Fold to be banned from the cat fancy for health reasons. Flathead is healthy because he was randomly bred.
There is a small wild cat species called the flat-headed cat. This cat has a genuinely flattened forehead and it likes to go fishing.