10 Facts About Scottish Fold Cats

iStock
iStock

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, bagpipes, and some of the world’s finest whiskies all hail from Scotland—but the country’s most lovable export might be the Scottish Fold Cat. (Sorry, Scottish Terriers.) Learn more about the floppy-eared feline, whose popularity has grown so much across the Pond that the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) named it America’s 10th most beloved breed [PDF] in 2014.

1. THEIR FOLDED EARS ARE CAUSED BY A GENETIC MUTATION …

Apart from its large, wide-spaced eyes and round body, a Scottish Fold’s most distinguishing feature is its ears. They bend forward and “fold” closely over the cat’s head—a characteristic that often prompts people to compare the kitty’s appearance to an owl or a teddy bear.

This trait is caused by an incomplete dominant gene that resulted from a spontaneous mutation. It affects the cartilage in the kitty’s body; while the Scottish Fold’s ears are the most visible sign of this abnormality, the rest of its body is also impacted.

2. ... THAT SOMETIMES CAUSES HEALTH PROBLEMS.

Scottish Folds suffer from varying degrees of osteochondrodysplasia, a painful condition that's characterized by defective bone development and bone and cartilage abnormalities. In severe cases, it can lead to arthritis; fusing of the tail, ankles, and knees; lameness; misshapen limbs; and an abnormal posture and walk. To avoid potential deformities, breeders out-cross Scottish Folds with straight-eared cats, like British or American Shorthairs.

3. SCOTTISH FOLDS ARE BORN WITH STRAIGHT EARS.

Scottish Folds are born with normal, pointy ears. They don’t develop their trademark look until they’re around 2 to 4 weeks old and the ears begin to fold. A cat's ears might also stay straight; these kitties are sometimes called Scottish Shorthairs. However, the CFA and other cat fanciers’ associations only allow cats with complete ear folds to compete in shows.

The Scottish Folds’ ears once weren’t as dramatically creased as they are now. Their ears folded from about halfway up, tilting forward and down. Decades of selective breeding are responsible for the double or triple ear folds of modern Scottish Folds, which cause their ears to lie completely flat.

4. THE SCOTTISH FOLD BREED BEGAN WITH A BARN CAT NAMED SUSIE.

In 1961, a white barn cat named Susie with quirky folded ears was found at a farm in Perthshire, Scotland. She later gave birth to two kittens that shared the same trait. William Ross, a local farmer and cat lover, adopted one of the unique kitties, and in 1966, he registered the new breed with Great Britain’s Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF). Ross and geneticist Pat Turner began breeding the Scottish Fold, and three years later they had produced 76 kittens, 42 with folded ears and 34 with straight ears. Over the years, the cats were cross-bred with British Shorthairs and other cats to produce the sweet, round-faced kitty we know and love. Today, all Scottish Fold cats can trace their lineage back to Susie.

5. SCOTTISH FOLDS ONCE HAD A DIFFERENT NAME.

Since they look a bit like lop-eared rabbits, Scottish Folds were called “Lop-eared” or “Lops” until the breed was registered and its official name became the Scottish Fold.

6. SCOTTISH FOLDS COME IN MANY PATTERNS AND COLORS.

You’ll find the short-haired, medium-sized Scottish Fold in every color and pattern, ranging from black, blue, and red to tabby and shaded silver [PDF] .(Cats with chocolate, lavender, or Seal Point coloring are disqualified by the CFA, as they indicate hybridization.) A Scottish Fold’s eyes can be any shade, although they’re typically copper. You’ll also occasionally see longhaired Scottish Folds, which some associations call the Highland Fold.

7. SCOTTISH FOLDS AREN'T POPULAR IN EUROPE ...

The GCCF—the U.K.’s largest registration body for cats—originally accepted Scottish Folds for show in 1966. However, by 1971 the organization had stopped letting pet owners register the kitties because they were worried about physical deformities, ear mites and infection, and deafness. These concerns ended up being unfounded, but to this day the cat still isn’t shown in Europe.

8. ...BUT THEY'RE BELOVED IN AMERICA.

In 1970, the Scottish Fold crossed the pond when three kittens were shipped to Neil Todd, a New England scientist who was investigating spontaneous genetic mutations in felines. Todd finished his research, and various parties and breeders adopted the Scottish Fold kittens born under his care.

In 1977, Scottish Folds were given provisional status in the CFA; over the decades they've become a highly sought after kitty in America. Today, cat lovers who want to own a Scottish Fold might have to be put on a waiting list, and pay several hundred dollars for a kitten.

9. SCOTTISH FOLDS ARE KNOWN FOR THEIR WEIRD POSES.

Scottish Folds are known for sitting, standing, or laying in a variety of cute—and comical—human-like positions. They'll sit on their haunches in a "Buddha" position; they'll stand on their hind legs; and they'll flop, stretch, and twist themselves into other unusual poses.

10. SCOTTISH FOLDS ARE POP CULTURE FIXTURES.

If you haven't seen an Instagram video of Taylor Swift's two Scottish Folds, Olivia Benson and Meredith Grey, or scoped out famous Internet "purr-sonality" Maru's social media presence, you might want to read author Peter Gethers' book, The Cat Who Went to Paris (1990), and its sequel, A Cat Abroad (1993). Both works tell the touching story of Gethers and his favorite companion, a Scottish Fold named Norton.

All photos courtesy of iStock.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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A Wily Fox With a Passion for Fashion Stole More Than 100 Shoes From a Berlin Neighborhood

The smirk.
The smirk.
Brett Jordan, Unsplash

In Berlin, Germany, a fox has embarked on a crime spree that puts Dora the Explorer’s Swiper completely to shame.

CNN-News18 reports that residents of Zehlendorf, a locality in southeastern Berlin, spent weeks scratching their heads as shoes continued to disappear from their stoops and patios overnight. After posting about the mystery on a neighborhood watch site and reading accounts from various bewildered barefooters, a local named Christian Meyer began to think the thief might be a fox.

He was right. Meyer caught sight of the roguish robber with a mouthful of flip-flop and followed him to a field, where he found more than 100 stolen shoes. The fox appears to have an affinity for Crocs, but the cache also contained sandals, sneakers, a pair of rubber boots, and one black ballet flat, among other footwear. Unfortunately, according to BBC News, Meyer’s own vanished running shoe was nowhere to be seen.

Foxes are known for their playfulness, and it’s not uncommon for one to trot off with an item left unattended in a yard. Birmingham & Black Country Wildlife explains that foxes are drawn to “things that smell good,” which, to a fox, includes dog toys, balls, gardening gloves, and worn shoes. And if your former cat’s backyard gravesite is suddenly empty one day, you can probably blame a fox for that, too; they bury their own food to eat later, so a deceased pet is basically a free meal.

The fate of Zehlendorf’s furriest burglar remains unclear, but The Cut’s Amanda Arnold has a radical idea: that the residents simply let the fox keep what is obviously a well-curated collection.

[h/t CNN-News18]