Genetic of Scottish cats

Breeding Scottish Fold/Straight cats can lead to specific genetic health concerns due to the gene responsible for their distinctive folded ears. The same gene can affect the development of cartilage throughout the body, leading to potential skeletal and joint issues. Here are some of the genetic problems associated with breeding Scottish Fold cats:

  • Osteochondrodysplasia (OD): This condition is linked to the genetic mutation responsible for the folded ears. It affects the development of cartilage and can lead to abnormal bone and joint growth. Cats with severe OD can experience pain, lameness, and difficulty moving if you Breed two folded-ear cats together, which can result in offspring with more severe forms of this condition.


Bone abnormalities in Scottish Fold cats: ‘A’ shows a severely affected cat and ‘B’ a mildly affected cat (photo courtesy of Richard Malik)  

  • Joint Issues: Even if a Scottish Fold cat doesn't exhibit obvious signs of OD, the gene can still affect the joints, leading to early-onset arthritis and discomfort. 
  • Cartilage Abnormalities: The gene responsible for the folded ears can cause other cartilage-related issues beyond the ears and joints. These issues might affect the cat's overall health and well-being. 
  • Ear Problems: Folded ears can be more prone to ear infections and other ear-related issues due to the altered ear structure. Proper ear care is important for Scottish Folds. 
  • Responsible Breeding: Due to the potential health concerns associated with the breed's genetics, responsible breeding practices are crucial. Breeding two folded ear cats together increases the risk of severe health problems in the offspring. Therefore, ethical breeders often cross a folded-ear cat with a straight-ear cat to maintain the breed's appearance while reducing the likelihood of severe health issues.

It's essential for breeders to prioritize the health and well-being of the cats they breed. Reputable breeders perform genetic testing to screen for potential health issues and take measures to prevent the spread of genetic disorders. Potential cat owners interested in Scottish Folds should seek out breeders who follow these ethical practices and who prioritize the long-term health of their cats.

If you're considering adopting a Scottish Fold cat, it's recommended to research breeders thoroughly, ask about genetic testing and health guarantees, and prioritize the well-being of the cat over its appearance. Additionally, regular veterinary care and close attention to your cat's health are important to ensure a happy and healthy life for your feline friend.

In our cattery, all cats have genetic tests and every year, we check them for health! My maine Stud Marshmallow have Folded ears and all my females have straight ears.


Osteochondrodysplasia, commonly known as "Folded Ear Syndrome," is a genetic condition that affects the skeletal development of Scottish Fold cats. This condition is responsible for the distinctive folded ears that give the breed its unique appearance. However, it's important to note that while folded ears are a defining feature of the breed, the genetic mutation responsible for them can also be associated with certain health concerns. Here's a full description of osteochondrodysplasia in Scottish Fold cats:

Description: Osteochondrodysplasia is a hereditary genetic condition that primarily affects the cartilage and bone development of Scottish Fold cats. The most noticeable manifestation of this condition is the folding of the ears, where the ear cartilage does not fully develop, leading to the unique appearance that the breed is known for.

Genetic Mutation: The folded ears of Scottish Fold cats are caused by a spontaneous autosomal dominant mutation in the FGF5 gene. This mutation affects the way cartilage develops and interacts with bones, resulting in the distinctive folded appearance. However, the same gene mutation that leads to folded ears can also impact the skeletal structure elsewhere in the body.

Health Concerns: The same genetic mutation responsible for folded ears has the potential to affect other parts of the skeletal system. Some health concerns associated with osteochondrodysplasia in Scottish Fold cats include:

Joint Issues: The mutation can lead to malformations of the joints, such as elbows and knees, which may result in discomfort or pain.

Spinal Abnormalities: Some Scottish Folds with severe forms of the mutation may experience spinal abnormalities, which could lead to mobility issues.

Tail Abnormalities: The mutation may cause kinks or bends in the tail, known as tail-fold osteodystrophy.

Responsible Breeding: Due to the potential health concerns associated with osteochondrodysplasia, responsible breeders take measures to minimize the risk of these issues. They may cross Scottish Folds with straight-eared cats (known as outcrossing) to reduce the prevalence of the gene mutation while preserving the breed's distinctive appearance.

Ethical Considerations: The health and well-being of Scottish Fold cats are of utmost importance. Ethical breeders prioritize the long-term health of their cats and work to minimize the risk of health problems associated with the folded ear gene.

Potential adopters should be aware of the potential health concerns associated with osteochondrodysplasia in Scottish Fold cats. It's recommended to choose breeders who prioritize the health and well-being of their cats and are transparent about their breeding practices. Additionally, regular veterinary care and attention to your cat's comfort and mobility are crucial to ensuring a good quality of life for Scottish Fold cats with folded ears.


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