Scottish Fold Health Problems

It is generally accepted that Scottish Fold health problems are some of the most prevalent and problematic. For some reason, no one pays attention to the words of experienced breeders. All over the world, they have long learned to control genetic problems and many animals live happily up to 16-19 years.

Who is right? Is it worth passing judgment on the breed without giving it any chance for protection?

These are the most common Scottish Fold cat health problems: osteochondrodysplasia (OCD), hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and polycystic kidney disease (PKD). Let’s deal with everything in order.

Scottish Fold Disease – osteochondrodysplasia

The ear fold mutation is closely linked to abnormal skeletal development leading to the inherited disease osteochondrodysplasia (OCD). It is a skeletal deformity associated with the growth of cartilage tissue.

Cats may begin to limp, develop a stiff, “stilted” gait, and their tail “hardens”. The disease will become more severe as the animals gets older.

The best type of diagnosis of this disease is x-ray and there are no effective methods of treatment yet. Some consider OCD to be exclusively a fold disease, but Alaskan Malamute and French Bulldog breeds also suffer from it.

The cause of OCD in cats with folded ears is due to improper breeding. Folded ears are a cartilage defect that is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner. In other words, by mating fold to fold, the scottish fold kittens will be susceptible to OCD.

grey scottish fold cat

By mating fold and straight, the kittens will be healthier and practically free from this genetic disease. Responsible breeders select pairs and isolate lines in which cases of the disease have been identified. This minimizes the problem of osteochondrodysplasia in the scottish fold breed.

Leslie Lyons on Scottish folds

Leslie Lyons, professor of genetics at Davis University in California, has done some research on this.

“As a scientist, I try to remain neutral in discussions about the breed, but facts remain facts. The gene for pinched ears has also been linked to the development of osteoarthritis in cats, which leads to joint stiffness.

The mutation in folds is dominant – if one of the partners had flattened ears, this trait will be passed onto offspring. It has been confirmed that most animals obtained from matings of two folds suffer from a severe form of osteoarthritis. That is why we advise knitting folds with straight-eared cats.

Some also think that kittens produced from fold and straight matings may have OCD and not show any symptoms. However, serious studies have not been conducted on this issue. In the US, folds are also mated with Persians. Breeders should be aware of PKD in these animals and understand that the disease can be transmitted to the Scottish breed.

In addition, some folds suffer from brachycephalic syndrome, which causes them to have malocclusion and difficult airways.

My advice to breeders is to continue outcrossing for the genetic diversity of the breed. Be careful and DNA test partners to prevent genetic diseases. Breeders must maintain a database of veterinary animal testing in order to monitor the breed.”

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in scottish folds

​Another common problem we might see in Scottish Folds is HCM – hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

This is a thickening of the heart muscle, leading to the development of heart failure, up to death.

However, it also cannot be called only a “Scottish” disease. Many breeds (Maine Coon, Burmese, Siberian, Sphynx, Ragdoll, etc.) fight this disease.

Moreover, folds do not fall into the top three animals at risk. The most accurate method for diagnosing HCM is echocardiography. In some cases, additional chest x-ray and electrocardiography are also important. Of course, the carrier of the disease is not allowed to breed, and the entire line is checked, especially close relatives.

polycystic kidney disease in scottish folds

Another ailment that is attributed to Scottish folds is polycystic kidney disease (PKD), a progressive genetic disease.

Kittens with PKD are born with cysts in the kidneys. The situation worsens with age up to the complete replacement of the normal structure of the tissues of this organ.

PKD manifests itself in cats from three to ten years, more often at the age of seven. Ultrasound and DNA testing for PKD carriage is recommended for all folds used in breeding programs. But folds are not alone in this disease either – it affects exotic SH, British SH, Persian cats, etc. And again, the genetic mutation of the folds has nothing to do with this disease.

As you can see, none of these genetic issues are exclusive to the Scottish Fold. They penetrated the breed and grew due to the huge number of improper breeding that gave life to many sick kittens.

Sadly, many people calls themselves breeders without even knowing the basics of this delicate breed. They want to earn as much money from animals as possible.

It is worth remembering that it is difficult to restore the reputation of the breed, but still possible.

Scottish Fold Cat Health Problems: 5 Common Concerns

Osteochondrodysplasia (OCD)

This is a genetic disease in which the formation of cartilage and bone tissue is disrupted. The animal develops disorders: deformities of the limbs, tail and in general, the skeleton. The cat may limp, move awkwardly, and in severe cases, lose the ability to walk. Movement hurts.

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)

Also a genetic disease and its insidiousness is that it does not immediately manifest itself. The kidneys are a patient organ, adapt well, so symptoms appear when significant changes have already occurred. The parenchyma (working tissue) is replaced by cysts and the kidneys are less able to cope with their functions. If you have a Scottish cat, urine tests will allow you to identify the disease in the early stages.

Heart Diseases

Scottish Folds have a tendency to have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). With the disease, the structure of the heart muscle (myocardium) changes and the size of the heart. Changes negatively affect the functions of the cardiovascular system, blood supply to organs is disturbed.

In the initial stage, you will likely not see symptoms. As the disease gets worse, they may develop other symptoms. This can include breathing with an open mouth after minor physical activity, fatigue, and anemia.

Ear diseases

Scottish folds have a tendency to get middle ear inflammation due to the shape of the flap that covers the ear. In such a closed ear, it is a favorable environment for the development of microflora.

Not all Scottish folds have ear aches, but there is a chance, so regularly inspect the ear. Take action if necessary. You may notice a large amount of sulfur, crusts, an unpleasant odor, as well as redness. Ear hygiene is important with the Scottish Fold.


We’ve all been there. Everyone knows what constipation is. Sometimes the use of calcium preparations helps to improve peristalsis and normalize bowel movements in a cat. Correction of nutrition, housing conditions and hair care do not always completely solve this problem.

buying a scottish fold kitten

Buy a Scottish Fold Kitten from a trusted breeder who values their reputation, monitor the purity of the breed, choose the right pairs …

Also keep in mind that breeding is not a cheap pleasure, a thoroughbred kitten cannot be inexpensive.

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