Scottish Fold (comprehensive page)

Cute Scottish Fold kitten
Cute Scottish Fold kitten. Photo in public domain.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Please note that this page is in several sections for technical reasons. There is a link at the end of each section to take you to the next.


This cat breed is another instance of a natural genetic mutation affecting a part of the cat’s body that has been seen by people as different and attractive. The dominant genetic mutation affects the cartilage of the ear flaps (pinnae) causing the ears to fold down against the head. Cat of this breed were (still are?) called lop-eared cats. With the folded ears and large eyes this cat has the appearance of an owl.

Black and white bicolor Scottish Fold kitten from Russia (Siberia)
Black and white bicolor Scottish Fold kitten from Russia (Siberia). Photo (excellent): Анатолий Кузнецов.

In terms of body shape, it is considered to be in between the British and American Shorthair cats1. All Scottish Folds are born with straight ears and not all kittens in a litter will have folded ears. At about 13 to 23 days old the ears start to fold1 (the CFA say 21 days). The ear flap is called the pinna. Selective breeding has created several folds whereas the initial mutation produced one4.

Silver classic tabby Scottish Fold kitten with a WOW appearance
Silver classic tabby Scottish Fold kitten with a WOW appearance. Photo and breeder: Oksana Mazai.

The greatest obstacle to making a success out of this breed of cat is the health issues associated with the genetic mutation that produces the folded ears. Some breeders say that Fold can be breed to Fold while others disagree1.

“We have a 19-year-old indoor Scottish Fold named K.C. He doesn’t have folded ears but is the BEST cat ever. We couldn’t ask for a nicer temperament. He has “raised” 2 children and followed us to 6 different states for the Army without complaining a bit!” …..Susie (Fort Leonard Wood, MO)

scottish foldscottish foldscottish fold
scottish foldscottish foldscottish fold
Photos of Scottish Fold copyright Helmi Flick – click on the thumbnails to see some great large format pictures</small

19 thoughts on “Scottish Fold (comprehensive page)”

  1. Harley is just over a year old and has started to limp on his front right leg and sometimes his front left leg. His father is a Seal Point Snowshoe Scottish Fold and his mother is a Calico Oriental Shorthair. I am wondering if Harley could have a mild form of arthritis due to the breed. I did contact the breeder and she told me that she didn’t think this was a problem with her cats. Although she did say one of the kittens from the same litter had a limp but the owner did not get back to her so she thinks it just had a fall and it was fine. Do you think there could be a possibility that Harley could have this problem? His legs do not look swollen, and when I manipulate them he doesn’t pull away, but I have noticed that the slight limp is now more noticeable. He also is not his loving self and spends most of the day sleeping. When he does come down from his cat tree it is very gingerly. I do have an appointment at the vets this weekend but didn’t know if I should mention this as I am not sure if he could possibly have Osteochondrodysplasia. I would appreciate any advice you could give me.

  2. I have a Scottish Fold (Harley) he is just over a year and has started to limp on his front right leg, sometimes he limps on the left front leg also. The father was a Seal Point Snowshoe Scottish Fold and the mother was a Oriental Shorthair. Could there be a genetic abnormality like Osteochondrodysplasia that is causing this?

      • Thank you for your reply Harley’s parents the father is a Seal Point Snowshoe Scottish fold and the mother is a Oriental Short Hair. So I didn’t know if he could even have Osteochondrodysplasia.

    • My research tells me that “Periarticular exostosis (A benign cartilage-capped protuberance from the surface of long bones but also seen on flat bones) and ankylosis (abnormal stiffening and immobility of a joint due to fusion of the bones) may develop in the limbs”.

      • So even with two different breed of cats given that he does have the folded ears he still could possibly have this problem?

          • I take him to the vet today. I will let you know what they say. Thank you so much for you information and taking time to reply to me.

            • Took Harley into the vet today at 8am. After talking to the vet and showing a video of Harley limping on both front legs and sharing with her the health problems some Scottish Folds develop I left him at the facility as they said it might take time. Around 4 pm. called they said they had a few problems with their x-ray machine they had to wait for the radiologist to read the film and make a report. No signs of Osteochondrodysplasia. He suspects a soft tissue injury. Okay so his limping has gotten worse on the left front leg. If he had a soft tissue injury wouldn’t it show signs of getting better not worse? Also, the limping is now in the right front leg.(another soft tissue injury). I do not agree with his opinion. Harley is strictly an inside cat sleeps nearly all day and night. Personality has changed from constantly wanted to be loved to being very withdrawn. They suggested maybe a specialist, may a infectious disease specialist. The report ended up by saying Bilateral enthesophytosis of the calcaneus with mild tarsal osteoarthrosis, although give they young age, some level of developmental malformation could be present. So after $500 dollars I am left confused, worried and feel helpless on how to help my Harley. I just wanted to let you know the outcome.

              • Many thanks Janet. That was not a good vet visit. And they don’t seem to have a handle on what is going on. I agree that it is almost certainly not a soft tissue injury.

                Janet, I have just checked my article and I note this:

                “Some gene mutations confine their influence on the formation of the cat’s body to a particular area (e.g the folded ear). However, this mutated gene is not only associated with the folded ears but a thickening tail and swollen (thickened) feet. The thickened tail results in less flexibility.”

                In other words the gene causing the folded ears can also affect the feet and tail. Are his paws swollen and stiff? Is his tail the same? Is there anything abnormal, even slightly abnormal, about his fore paws and his tail?

                Alos my Scot Fold article states this:

                Even when cats of this breed are mated with normal eared cats resulting in heterozygous cats a progressive arthritic condition takes hold.

                It would seem to me that Harley is arthritic in his front legs and his paws may be stiffened. All-in-all I’d say he is suffering from the side effects of having flat ears.

                • Good Morning Michael,
                  There does not seem to be anything abnormal about his tail or fore paws at all. All I know is that he is totally a different cat. He isolates himself most of the day and doesn’t want to held. Which is 180 degree turn around behavior wise. They wanted to put Harley on an Opioid and then told me it would make him a little crazy. I didn’t want that if he is limping now what could that do for him if it would make him race around. As I say, he sleeps most of the time and acts like he is a much older cat, not a cat that is a little over a year. I did contact a vet out of our area and without seeing Harley she did say that it could be in his joints but may not even show up on a xray. She recommended Dasequin a glucosamine product. The vet that I did take Harley to did not think that would help and dismissed that idea. I will investigate that more myself. I don’t want him to be in pain and would love to have my old Harley back but I don’t think that will ever happen. No matter what this vet has said to me Michael, I believe in my heart and soul that Harley has some kind of joint problem. Again your input has meant so much to me. I will just give Harley all the love and attention he wants and monitor him very closely.

                  • His change in behavior is probably be due to discomfort and that is possibly his legs. What you might do it get a vet’s advice on administering some painkillers for a short time. If his mood picks up you’ll know he is in discomfort causing him to be miserable and I’d say it is arthritis of some sort due to his genetic inheritance. There may even be more going on beyond his joints.

                    The books don’t indicate any inherited diseases for this breed other than skeletal problems as mentioned. Good luck.

                    • I think so too. I will get some pain killers just to see how he reacts. I appreciate your knowledge and time. I didn’t realize you were in England. I was born and raised there until I came to Paradise California 40 years ago. I just retired from the school district after 40 years and that is why I got Harley. Take Care.

            • Thanks for replying and I look forward to finding out what is wrong. I suppose the question is whether it is a genetic illness (i.e. linked to being a Scottish Fold) or not.

              • Harley has not shown any improvement so the vet gave him pain medication. Still after 6 days no signs of improvement. Today I went back to the vet and they decided to do blood work on Harley. The technician came back and said I had to return in two weeks for another urinalysis. I was puzzled by that, but said okay. Then she gave me Cephalexin 250mg. I asked her why, and she said for his infection. WHAT!! So as he is on another medication I said I didn’t know she was putting him an additional medication. So, I though okay maybe they did a urinalysis and found that he had an infection. I did ask her to go back and double check and make sure he is supposed to take this with the pain medication plus, I was really feeling confused about not knowing why the vet herself had not told me they had found something. I guess the vet told her it would be just fine for the two medication to be given to Harley. Well, I was just about to give him a pill and the phone rang. It was the vet telling me they had given me another animals medication by mistake. (OMG). Needless to say the appointment they made for me for a urinalyses was cancelled. Harley has enough problems without adding another animals problems to his. Thank God I didn’t give him the medication.


Leave a Comment

follow it link and logo