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Essential Information If You Have a Cat With Folded Ears

orange scottish fold kitten

Folded-eared cats have a distinct appearance where their ears visibly fold downward. As a super docile and loving breed, many owners around the world have taken a liking for this cute and cuddly type of cat. Folds carry a round headed aesthetic of cuteness but behind this adorable exterior there are serious underlying health conditions that need to be understood. Inherent genetic defects cause cartilage deficiency and will lead to long term health difficulties. If you have a fold kitty, or are considering welcoming one home, let’s look at some essential facts around these cats.  

 

Scottish Fold Profile

 

Cats with folded ears are referred to as Scottish Fold cats. These cats originated from a native Scottish cat and British Shorthair pairing. Not all Scottish cats are folds, those with the inherited genetic mutation will emerge with folded ears. Gene pool diversification is especially important in this breed. It should be noted that this variant of fold has front folding ears, a distinct difference to that seen in cats that have backward folding ears.  

Over the years, the Scottish Fold cat has become a popular choice for cat lovers. It should be highlighted that due to this popularity, profiteering breeders deliberately breed folded eared cats. Pairing two folded eared cats can lead to further genetic defect and may even result in early death and other complications. It’s important to ask questions and understand the background every animal that you might welcome to your loving home, the Scottish Fold is no exception to this rule.  

 

Is Folding of The Ears a Disease?

 

Folding of the ears is a genetic defect that causes cartilage deficiency. Cartilage is essential for both humans cats, it’s the connective tissue found between joints. Scottish folds are to be expected to live with hereditary condition named Osteochondrodysplasia, a condition that affects both bone growth and cartilage. Research shows that purebred Scottish Fold cats will progressively develop skeletal deformities as time goes on, leading to serious mobility impairment.

 

The accompanying effects of Osteochondrodysplasia will induce varying degrees of pain. Its effects will differ between homozygous and heterozygote offspring. The former means a pairing between two folds while the latter will have just one parent with the fold gene. Homozygous decedents have been seen to have severe disorders that manifest at an earlier age. Heterozygote fold cats will still experience Osteochondrodysplasia but its severity will be seen to be significantly less and has been observed to manifest at a much later stage in life.    

Scottish fold cat silvery colour

 

Osteochondrodysplasia and Symptoms

 

Early signs of this disorder can be seen in a number of ways. Scottish fold cats that have affected bone and cartilage growth will often show reluctance to engage in basic maneuverability such as jumping, running and other joint dependent movements. General lameness and lack of enthusiasm around their daily activities are other signs of developing joint pain and more.    

 

Homozygous Cats:

- Stunted tail development and flexibility

- Abnormal gate causing difficulty in movement

- Joint swelling and general arthritis

- Thicker thick compared to other cats

- Abnormal nail growth

 

Heterozygous Cats:

Heterozygous folds don’t show severe symptoms during their early stages of life but these kitties will still face a level of bone disorder after a few years. Increasing joint inflammation and bone deformity are still to be expected with varying degrees of severity. Diversity in the gene pool helps to provide a delayed and milder development of Osteochondrodysplasia.

 

Slower development and milder symptoms can sometimes falsely mask underlying conditions if not examined properly. A cat may eat, drink and play happily during their day to day kitty antics but radiography has discerned that these cats still suffer from accelerated join fatigue and wear. Cats will not show signs of immediate pain but these disorders still to continue to cause discomfort, it’s best to take a cat for regular health scans to monitor the development of their limbs.   

scottish fold cat russian blue seat like a human

Image: Abnormal posture can also be an indication of discomfort felt due to inherent disorders.

 

Accelerated aging also means that folded ear cats tend to have much shorter life spans compared to other cats in unregulated breeding conditions. However, for heterozygous kittens that come from a broader genetic pool, 15 years of prime time cat years can be expected.   

Other Potential Health Conditions

 

  • Cardiology Issues: Scottish folds are known to suffer from Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a condition that effect the chambers of the heart.
  • Stunted Growth: Underlying health issues can accumulate into reduced growth, causing a cat to be much smaller than expected. In addition to this, they may develop various allergies and other disorder. It’s best to closely monitor these cats on a daily basis.
  • Polycystic kidney disease (PKD), a condition that causes cysts to form on the kidneys that may impact essential organ function.

 

 

Can This Disorder Be Cured?

 

There are currently no known methods of curing this associated genetic disorder. A preventative stance has been deemed as the solution by not breeding cats with those that have genes that will cause detrimental health effects. What may have started out as a cute journey can develop into a sad and painful experience later, for both cat and owner.

scottish fold ear cat seat in front of window

The fold gene is unfortunately a defect that causes many health issues and pain. Slowing its effects and alleviating its induced pain is the best that can be done. Dietary changes, radiotherapy and a number of other lifestyle changes can be made to help to curb some of these problems. It’s best to consult a vet to find the best course of action when living with a Scottish Fold cat.

 

There are a number of supplements that may help over time. Research points to administration of organic supplements such as glucosamine can assist with joint swelling and general cartilage degradation. This is a much safer course of health support as opposed to drugs and other invasive treatments that may yield side effects.

 

What If I Already Have a Scottish Fold Cat?

While breeding practices around the Scottish Fold cats are deemed to be unethical, any cat is a life worth caring for. It’s our responsibility as loving paw parents to love our fur babies and to provide the best care possible, regardless of their state of health. If your cat exhibits any of the aforementioned symptoms, its best to act swiftly and understand the situation in detail. An immediate visit to the vet for testing and advice will be needed.

 

We never give up on our beloved feline friends and you shouldn’t either. Even if your cat has not shown any of the above symptoms, it’s best to take a proactive approach and to get professional advice from a vet who will be able to run the necessary tests and to provide the best lifestyle changes. Tailoring your cat’s daily activities will also be a task to be undertaken. Careful consideration to surface hardness and jumping heights should be taken into account. If your cat dislikes to be held, it may be due to their everlasting pain that is felt.   

 russia blue scottish fold cat fold ear kitten sleeping

If You Like Scottish Fold Cats

 

It’s best not to support the breeding of Scottish fold cats as the domestic feline market continues to grow. Scottish fold cats are not at fault, they are a product of human intervention and trading of these cats based solely on aesthetic appeal with regard of health and wellbeing is non-ethical. However, if you are willing to welcome a folded ear friend home, visiting a shelter and rehoming through adoption would be a great way to avoid profiteering breeders and to support a greater cause. Regardless of their health, Scottish fold cats are adoring animals that deserve love and attention in any household. Taking on this responsibility will mean that one should consciously accept that it’s best not to breed from cats who have folded ears and to never give up on caring and loving their feline companion. Meow!

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