Where would we be without Labrador and Golden Retrievers being our eyes, German Shepherds saving lives, Ragdolls comforting our children and Chihuahuas biting our in-laws?

Historically, we bred dogs to serve certain functions – Border Collies and Kelpies to herd and protect farmers’ flocks, Pekingese and Chihuahuas as playthings for the family (was this wise?) Terriers as ratters… 

You get the idea. 

Where nature selects for survival of the fittest, we arguably do not. As a consequence of this, many of our pets suffer breed-related health issues.

Each month, we will introduce a breed of pet and focus on its health issues, responsible breeding and informed buying. This month we kick off with the Scottish Fold cat…

The Scottish Fold is a beautiful breed of cat, named after its characteristic folded ears. This breed is so unique and, whilst banned by some kennel unions due to health concerns, remains extremely popular.

Why should we be concerned?

Abnormal development of the ear cartilage causes it to weaken and fold in on itself. This abnormality is caused by a mutated gene. 

This abnormal cartilage is not isolated to the ear. Weakened cartilage and skeletal abnormalities can develop all over the body, causing the disease FOCD: Feline Osteochondrodystrophy. 

In severe cases of FOCD, pain and immobility can start from 12 weeks of age. Some of these kittens are humanely euthanised before their first birthday. 

Is there any safe way to breed the Scottish Fold?

There is a safer way, but no safe way!

All Scottish Folds carry at least one copy of the mutated gene, and recent studies show that all of them suffer from FOCD to some extent.  

So what is the safer way?

All animals get two copies of a gene – one from mom, one from dad. 

Cats with two copies of the fold gene will likely develop severe and progressive FOCD from a young age. This is a result of both parents being Scottish Folds. 

Cats with one fold gene and one normal gene, may develop the disease to a much lesser extent, often living a normal life without showing symptoms. However, cats hide pain and owners may be unaware that their Fold is living with chronic pain.

For a Scottish Fold to have one normal gene and one fold gene, one parent must be a Fold, and the other a straight-eared cat, typically a British or Scottish Shorthair. 

How to be an informed buyer

Make sure mom and dad are NOT both folds. DNA test your new kitten to ensure one normal gene (contact us for more details).

Choose a reputable breeder. Ask if they DNA test the parents, and don’t be shy to ask to see the results!

Let’s ensure health!

If you are unsure whether your Fold suffers from FOCD, book a free Xray with us at HIGHlands here. We are committed to supporting the health of this breed and early preventative treatment.