What to Know About a Scottish Fold Cat

Medically Reviewed by Vanesa Farmer, DVM on July 25, 2022
6 min read

Scottish Fold cats — sometimes called "Lops" — are known for their uniquely rounded appearance. Many Scottish Folds have a genetic mutation that causes their ears to fold forward and sit almost flat against their head, giving their heads and faces a round appearance. Combined with their big round eyes, Scottish Folds are often said to resemble owls, and they have sweet expressions that make them look like they're smiling.

The Scottish Fold is a controversial breed. Osteochondrodysplasia — the mutation that gives these cats their unique appearance — affects cartilage formation and can cause various deformities. Some breeders have tried to improve the breed's overall health by crossing them with American or British shorthairs. Still, because osteochondrodysplasia is a dominant trait, some organizations argue that Scottish Folds with folded ears should not be bred. 

While the cats are best known for their folded-ear appearance, they also come with straight ears. All Scottish Fold kittens are born with straight ears. If the kittens have inherited osteochondrodysplasia, their ears will fold around three to four weeks of age. The demand for a Scottish Fold cat with folded ears is high, and straight-eared Scottish Folds tend to be less expensive. 

Read on to learn what you need to know about the Scottish Fold cat to decide if this is the right cat for you.

The Scottish Fold cat has a short nose and a well-rounded head that blends into a short neck. They have wide, round eyes that give the cat an open expression. 

The Scottish Fold cat's ears can be folded or straight. Folded ears lie forward and flat against the head, while straight ears are medium to small and set far apart on the head. Both types of Scottish Fold ears have rounded tips. 

Scottish Folds are medium-boned and have rounded, sturdy bodies with bushy medium-long tails. Their coats can be long-haired or short-haired and come in any color or pattern. 

Scottish Folds aren't particularly vocal cats, and they have sweet, tiny, soft voices that many owners enjoy. 

Scottish Fold cats sometimes enjoy flopping on their back while napping or relaxing — what some owners call a "Buddha Sit." They also sit on their hind legs, giving them an otter-like appearance.

Scottish Fold Cat Colors

Scottish Fold Cats can come in any color or pattern. Their eyes can be blue, green, teal, copper, gold, or hazel, and they may have "odd eyes" where each eye is a different color. 

Scottish Fold Size

Scottish Folds are medium cats that weigh six to 13 pounds on average.

Scottish Fold Cat Personality

The Scottish Fold is a sweet, good-natured breed that loves socializing with their human families. Their social, even temperament makes them good companions for children and many other pets. A Scottish Fold cat will often follow you as you go about your daily life, and they do not like being left alone at home. These cats do best with an owner who is home frequently or can provide an animal companion. 

Scottish Folds are low-demand, adaptable cats. They typically adjust well to noisy households — like houses with dogs or young children — and aren't intimidated by new environments.

In summary, common Scottish Fold characteristics include being: 

  • Sweet
  • Loving
  • Friendly
  • Easygoing
  • Curious
  • Intelligent 
  • Loyal

Scottish Fold Cat Grooming

The short-haired Scottish Fold has a coat that's easy to care for — they only require brushing once or twice a week. You must brush long-haired Scottish Folds three to four times a week to prevent matting. 

Like most cats, a Scottish Fold grooms themself very well and rarely needs bathing.

If your Scottish Fold does need a bath, use shampoo formulated for cats, and avoid using shampoo on their face, ears, and eyes. Praise and reward your cat after bathing to help develop a positive association with grooming. 

It would be best to brush your cat's teeth at least three times a week using a toothpaste formulated for cats and a toothbrush designed for cats. More than half of cats over age three have periodontal disease, leading to pain and tooth loss. Regular brushing helps to prevent these dental problems. Consult your veterinarian if you have questions about providing dental care for your Scottish Fold.

Like all cats, your Scottish Fold needs regular nail care. Using cat nail clippers, clip only the white part of your cat's claw — the pink part, called the quick, contains nerves and blood vessels and will bleed if accidentally cut. You can stop bleeding with a styptic powder, but it's better to err on the side of trimming too little than over-trimming your cat's claws. 

Declawing your Scottish Fold is not recommended — as with all cats, declawing can lead to chronic pain and behavioral problems. To discourage inappropriate scratching, trim your cat's nails every two to four weeks and provide scratching posts, a cat tree, or other scratching surfaces for your Scottish Fold.

Scottish Fold Cat Tick and Flea Prevention

You can help prevent ticks and fleas by giving your Scottish Fold a regular tick and flea preventative. Tick and flea preventative products come in various formulations: chewables, sprays, topical treatments, powders, and flea prevention collars. These are available both over the counter and by prescription. Your veterinarian can help you choose the right flea and tick prevention for your Scottish Fold. 

Scottish Fold Medical Care

Like all cats, a Scottish Fold must visit the veterinarian every three to four weeks during the first four months of life. Annual well checks are necessary after they reach one year of age. All cats need core vaccines. Your Scottish Fold kitten will likely receive their first vaccines between six and eight weeks of age.

Core vaccines include: 

Your Scottish Fold might need non-core vaccines, depending on their risk of exposure to these diseases. Talk to your veterinarian to determine if any non-core vaccines are necessary for your Scottish Fold.

Non-core vaccines may cover:

Veterinarians generally recommend that all cats receive year-round heartworm prevention medication. Heartworms are a parasitic infection transmitted through mosquito bites. Heartworm larvae infest the right side of the heart and the pulmonary arteries and can cause respiratory failure and death.

While cats are less likely to get heartworms than dogs, recent studies have shown that more cats are infected with heartworms than previously thought. Heartworms are more challenging to diagnose in cats, and there's currently no effective treatment for heartworm-infected cats. While outdoor cats are more likely to contract heartworms, heartworm infections can and do occur in both indoor and outdoor cats.

The average Scottish Fold lifespan is 14 to 16 years. 

Scottish Fold Disease

All Scottish Fold Cats with folded ears are affected by osteochondrodysplasia, also known as Scottish Fold disease. Scottish Fold disease affects cartilage throughout the cat's body and can cause serious issues such as:

  • Arthritis
  • Spinal abnormalities
  • Thick, inflexible tails
  • Short, stiff legs
  • Limb deformities

The disease can be evident as early as seven weeks after birth. It can cause severe chronic pain and lameness. 

While all folded-ear Scottish Fold cats are affected, cats with two copies of the mutated gene tend to develop crippling arthritis early in life. In contrast, cats with only one copy tend to have arthritis that progresses more slowly. Cats with only one copy of the mutated gene sometimes only experience mild disease. Scottish Fold cats with severe cases may be unable to walk and often require euthanasia for chronic pain, sometimes early in life. 


Like humans, cats can have Type I or Type II diabetes, though Type II is most common in cats. Scottish Fold cats are prone to being overweight, increasing their risk of developing diabetes. Measuring your Scottish Fold's food portions can help prevent excess weight gain.

Symptoms of diabetes in cats include:

  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased urination/urinating outside the litter box
  • Lethargy

Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your Scottish Fold cat may have diabetes.

The first Scottish Fold, a white, long-haired barn cat named Susie, was discovered in Scotland in 1961. William Brooks, a neighbor, adopted a kitten from Susie's litter and began to breed her with other barn cats and British shorthairs. Every Scottish Fold alive today can trace their ancestry back to this original cat.