Scottish Fold (Highland Fold)

Scottish fold cats make great, affectionate pets that thrive on human interaction without being too demanding for your constant attention. They have a charmingly unique appearance due to their ear carriage, round heads and eyes, and thick legs and tail. Learn more about Scottish folds to see if one is right for you.
By Doug Jimerson
August 24, 2020
Scottish Fold (Highland Fold)
Coat Length
Pattern
Other Traits
Temperament
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Scottish Fold (Highland Fold)

height
  • 8 to 10 inches
weight
  • 6 to 9 pounds (female)/ 9 to 13 pounds (male)
life span
  • 11 to 14 years
good with
  • children
  • seniors
  • dogs
  • cats
  • families
temperament
  • affectionate
intelligence
  • high
shedding amount
  • normal
playfulness
  • medium
activity level
  • calm
vocalness
  • when necessary
coat length
  • long
  • short
colors
  • lavender / silver
  • fawn
  • blue / gray
  • black / ebony
  • cream / beige / tan
  • red / orange
patterns
  • bi-color
  • solid
  • calico / tri-color
  • tabby
other traits
  • easy to train
  • easy to groom
  • friendly toward other pets
  • friendly toward strangers
  • friendly toward humans
  • tolerates being alone
  • high potential for weight gain
  • good lap cat
  • tolerates being picked up

If you’ve spent much time online these days, you’ve probably noticed that Scottish fold cats are taking the Internet by storm. That’s because these rare felines are prized for their huggable good looks and sweet personalities. Sporting round heads with tight, forward facing folded ears and large eyes, Scottish folds always draw a lot of attention. 

Scottish fold cats are a medium-sized breed weighing 6 to 12 pounds. They require little maintenance and love being with their people more than anything else in the world. They’re smart, too, and love playing games or chasing toys around the house.

According to cat behaviorist Marilyn Krieger, a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant in San Francisco known as The Cat Coach and author of Naughty No More: Change Unwanted Behaviors Through Positive Reinforcement, it’s important to do research and purchase breeds of cats, such as the Scottish fold, from reputable breeders. “Check to see if they are members of The International Cat Association (TICA) or the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA).” Owning an unusual breed of cat is fun, but it’s important that you love the cat for all facets of its personality, not just for its unique characteristics (such as folded ears). “These cats aren’t decorations,” Krieger says. “Like all breeds, you need to provide them the best care and enrichment possible, as well as daily attention.” 

Appearance

If an owl and a cat had a baby (we know they can’t, but it’s fun to think about) it would look a lot like a Scottish fold cat. Scottish folds are a medium-sized, stocky breed that loves human attention from everyone in the family, but may focus their attention on one lucky person. 

These gorgeous cats have rounded heads, short necks, and large eyes which, combined with their folded-over ears, give them a unique look. Their coat is generally short and dense, but long-haired individuals are also available. Colors include white, blue, cream, silver, black, cameo, and brown. Coat patterns include solid, tabby, tortoiseshell, bicolor, spotted, and shaded. Their large, gorgeous eyes can be gold, green, or blue.  

Scottish fold cats are also a good choice for apartment dwellers because they don’t get too large. Male Scottish folds weigh approximately 12 pounds while females generally range between 8 and 12 pounds. Scottish folds are a healthy breed and the folded ears do not make them more susceptible to mites or ear infections.

Because most Scottish folds have short, dense fur, grooming can be as simple as brushing and combing the fur once a week to remove loose hair and dead skin cells.

Temperament

Scottish folds are prized for their easy-going, affectionate personality. They love their families, but not in an annoying way. They’re just as happy relaxing on the couch next to you as they are being lavished with attention. Scottish folds are also quite intelligent and are easily trained to do basic tricks (but of course they are cats, so any training is always on their terms). These happy-go-lucky felines also enjoy each other’s company and don’t mind having other furry roommates (dog or cat) if introduced to them properly. 

Living Needs

Talk about a wash-and-wear kitty! Because Scottish fold cats are medium size and mostly short-haired, they can live almost anywhere with minimal work on your part. They can be as happy in a one-room apartment as they are in a spacious mansion. And, they don’t need constant primping to keep them in top form. A quick weekly brush up is about all that’s necessary. 

Like other cats, they will enjoy a cat tree for climbing and a few scratching posts scattered about to sharpen their nails, and an assortment of toys to keep their minds occupied. Plus, because they are not super active felines, you won’t find them climbing your curtains or leaping back and forth across your living room furniture. 

Care

Scottish fold cats don’t require a lot of fussy grooming. Sure, they shed, but otherwise, their lush coats only require a weekly combing to keep it in great shape. Longer haired versions of the Scottish fold are almost as easy to maintain, although they’ll require brushing a bit more often to avoid tangles and matting. 

Although Scottish fold cats are a bit less acrobatic than other breeds, don’t assume they’ll just sit in a corner and look sweet. They love and require attention and to be challenged with new toys and activities. 

Scottish folds are also very social and enjoy being with you as much as possible as well as making great companions for other cats and friendly dogs. 

Health

The Scottish fold’s ears are a product of a genetic trait that causes the ears to fold forward when the kitten is 21–28 days old. This is due to a defect in the production of cartilage; there’s a chance that not all the kittens in a litter will have folded ears.  

For this reason, two Scottish folds should never be bred to each other because it can result in a disease called osteodystrophy, which makes them more vulnerable to arthritis, misshapen toes, or thickened and inflexible tails. To prevent this from happening, Scottish folds are generally bred to British or American shorthairs.

The ears of Scottish fold cats should also be checked regularly for a buildup of earwax. It hasn’t been proved that they have a greater incidence of wax buildup, but it’s wise to keep an eye on them just in case. 

Regular veterinarian appointments are essential to keep your pet in top form and to make sure your cat’s folded ears are clean of debris. Also, if possible, brush your cat’s teeth at least once a week to prevent periodontal disease. And don’t forget to trim your cat’s nails every few weeks. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that because Scottish fold cats are not quite as active as other breeds, they can become overweight. Encourage your cat to play as much as possible and don’t overdo the treats so your kitty stays fit and trim well into old age.

History

These loving, low-key felines all started with one kitten named Susie, who was discovered on a rural Scottish farm in the early 1960s. Susie was a barn cat living on the McRae farm who was born with a genetic mutation that produced her unusual folded ears. This trait quickly caught the attention of cat breeders who began crossing her and her offspring with American and British shorthair cats. And that’s how the little Scottish farm cat named Susie became the foundation of a brand new breed. 

According to The Cat Fanciers’ Association, “all Scottish fold cats today can be traced back to McRae’s Susie, a unique fact in the pedigreed cat world.” Two British shorthair breeders named Mary and William Ross fell in love with Susie and in 1963 were given one of her folded-ear female kittens. That cat—named Snooks—was bred with a red tabby male, a match that resulted in the birth of one male kitten. That cat was later bred to another British shorthair who gave birth to a litter of five kittens and Susie’s lineage was solidified.

Fun Facts

  • One of the most famous Scottish fold cats is Maru, a male cat from Japan cat whose videos have been viewed millions of times on YouTube. In fact, the Los Angeles Times once called Maru the most famous cat in the world. 
  • Celebrity fans of Scottish folds include Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, and Kirsten Dunst, all of whom have posted videos and photos of their beloved pets.
  • Scottish folds are known for sleeping on their backs and for sitting in what’s called a Buddha Position— with their legs stretched out in front of them and their front paws on their bellies.