The Scottish Fold, popular in both the United States and Japan, is a unique cat breed known for its signature folded ears. Their friendly and calm purr-sonality has made them one of the most highly sought-after felines in the world.

Origins of the Scottish Fold

Although the first word of one dates back to late 18th century China, the first official Scottish Fold, Susie, was found by William and Mary Ross in 1961. As its name suggests, the Scottish Fold was first discovered in Perthshire, Scotland. She was a white barn cat with a unique ear mutation causing cartilage deformation.

William Ross, the shepherd who found her, was fascinated by her and started a program to mate Susie with other domestic and British Shorthairs. Breeding these beauties proved difficult, however. To begin with, it is considered unethical to breed two folded ear cats due to the higher risk of impairments. Secondly, because the folded ear mutation is caused by a dominant gene, not every kitten in the litter is guaranteed to possess this gene. In fact, studies done through Ross' breeding program showed that out of the 76 kittens produced, only 42 had folded ears while 34 of them had straight ears. Today, each and every bonafide Scottish Fold in the world shares a common ancestry to Susie.

Ross registered the breed with the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) in 1966, however, the GCCF stopped registering Scottish Folds not long after due to concerns about hearing troubles and other ear disorders.

Nowadays, the Scottish Fold is recognized by a few major cat associations: the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), the American Cat Fanciers’ Association (ACFA) and The International Cat Association (TICA). The Highland Fold, also known as the Scottish Fold Longhair, is a similar breed. The name distinguishes short-haired Scottish Folds from the long-haired variation.

beautiful purebred scottish fold shorthair cat posing in front of camera

Physical characteristics


Although they are known for their famous folded ears, all Scottish Folds are born with straight ears. If the gene that causes the fold is present, the ears usually start to develop folds after three weeks. If the folded ears gene is not present, the ears will stay straight. These straight eared variations are called Straights. Generally, half of the litter contains the dominant gene while the other half does not. However, the Scottish Fold is not the only cat breed with unique ears. The American curl has ears that naturally curve towards the back.

The ear folds, which are caused by a mutation, are divided into three categories: single, double, and triple folds. In addition to the folds, Scottish Folds have round-tipped ears that fall forward and downward.

Face and body

Similar to the American and British Shorthair, which is outcrossed with the breed, Scottish Folds have rounded faces and eyes. It is often said that their round facial features and body make them look like an owl or teddy bear. The breed has a firm chin and jaw, a stubby nose and medium-sized body.


The Scottish Fold breed has a short and silky coat while the Highland Fold has a long coat. For both of these cats, the coat is soft, plush, and even. Although they were originally bred to have white coats, the coat comes in a bevy of different patterns, such as tabby, calico, and tortoiseshell, and a variety of different color variations. Self-colored cats, which are cats with a solid-colored coat, can range from white, black, and blue to red and cream.


The most popular Scottish Fold eye color is a brilliant gold but their eye color tends to depend on their coat. For example, a silver Scottish Fold could have green eyes while a white Shorthair could have blue eyes or odd eyes (a genetic anomaly that causes one eye color to be different from the other).

The Scottish Fold's purr-sonality

Scottish Folds are one of the most highly sought-after cat breeds, not just because of their looks, but for their friendly and calm personality.

These gentle felines are known to be one of the most loving cat breeds. They enjoy spending hours cuddling and playing with their humans. They are great with children and are also known to get along well with dogs. As the Scottish Fold is very affectionate, the breed does not like to be left alone for hours on end.

Although they are not the most active of cat breeds, they are particularly playful. To ensure that they stay stimulated, they should be provided with cat puzzles and interactive toys.

These cuties have a habit of posing in unique, humanlike positions. They are often found lying on their backs with their paws in the air or even sitting like humans in a position dubbed "The Buddha Sit" by Scottish Fold owners.

A Scottish fold kitten doing the famous "Buddha sit"

Health and grooming


As the Scottish Folds have an inherited mutation that causes their ears to fold, it is important to regularly check their ears. Make sure to avoid cotton swabs because these could damage their ears. If you would like to clean their ears, use a cotton ball or a gentle, damp washcloth with a 50-50 mixture of cider vinegar and warm water to delicately wipe them out.


The Scottish Fold has a high tendency to shed. It is, therefore, recommended to comb them weekly. For Highland Folds, it is preferred to comb them twice a week.


It is imperative to be gentle with the tail. These felines are prone to tail arthritis and can suffer from various degenerative joint diseases that cause a lot of pain.

Common health issues

  • Joint and bone growth abnormalities that often lead to arthritis
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (a form of heart disease)

Life span

If a Scottish Fold is given proper care and has a healthy lifestyle, it could live an average of 15 years.

The Scottish Fold in pop culture

In the short novel, The Cat Who Went to Paris, the author, Peter Gethers, opens up about how he hated cats before he met Norton. He tells the story of this "extraordinary" Scottish Fold and shares about how much that one kitten changed his life.

This cat breed is very popular among celebrities. The most famous of these Scottish Fold owners being Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Kirsten Dunst, and Grey's Anatomy star, Patrick Dempsey. Ed Sheeran's cats even have their own Instagram account. They are named Calippo and Dorito.

There are also many Scottish Folds who have become famous thanks to Instagram and Youtube. Some of the most famous include Maru, a famous Scottish Fold living in Japan, and Lily from California. Maru's videos have attracted millions of views on Youtube.

Scottish Folds on Yummypets

If you would like to know more about this breed, take a look at the Yummypets Scottish Fold cat breed page. There you'll find hundreds of photos of this breed posted by our fellow Yummypals, as well as a list of Scottish Fold owners on Yummypets. It's a great way to get to know fellow Scottish Fold owners or to learn more about the breed by people who own them themselves.

Source: Hillspet, CatTime, Vetstreet, BBC News, Scottish at Heart, The Conversation, The Cat Fanciers' Association, iHeartCats

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