If you love Scottish fold cats, I’m going to tell you something you don’t want to hear. Please, please read on anyway. If you are considering adopting a Scottish fold, PLEASE continue reading. This information needs to be more widely known.
In 2008, the Journal of Small Animal practice released a short report on disorders associated with breeds of cats. In this report, the authors mentioned the Scottish fold:
People who own them may be “charmed” by their round faces and open expression (and they may not realise that the reason the cats do not move around too much is because they are variably crippled with arthritis).1
The gene that causes the cute fold in the Scottish fold’s ear also leads to the development of a degenerative disorder called osteochondrodysplasia. ALL Scottish folds have this disorder, whether they show symptoms or not- the fold in their ears is caused by a cartilage deformity that also affects their joints.
Osteochondrodysplasia leads to crippling osteoarthritis, which affects Scottish folds at much younger ages than other breeds of cats. In cats heterozygous for the gene, the disease’s progression can be seen in cats as young as six months. In homozygous cats, it can be seen as early as seven weeks old.
Affected cats may be grossly deformed, with short wide limbs and a short, inflexible tail. They show lameness, swollen wrist (carpal) and ankle (tarsal) joints, have an abnormal gait, and are reluctant to move and jump. Severely affected individuals become crippled and unable to walk.
…Many affected cats are euthanased earlier in life due to the profound effects of this disease.2
The breed is often described as “placid” and “calm.” This is due to the fact that they are constantly in pain due to this disorder. Even in mild, ‘asymptomatic’ cases which can occur in heterozygous cats, they may still be experiencing pain due to cats’ tendency to hide their suffering.
Many breeders of Scottish folds claim that not all heterozygous cats have the disorder, because the studies that examined the cats (which were all, heterozygous or not, shown to have it) had small sample sizes.
In 2003, Lorraine Shelton, a specialist in genetic diseases, offered to pay for 300 x-rays of healthy adult Scottish folds to prove that the disorder was not present in some heterozygous cats.
…She has asked a list of 300 Scottish Fold breeders from around the world to go to their vet to get X-rays done. She had offered to pay for these X-rays but not a single breeder had taken up that offer. You could not know whether this problem existed unless an X-ray was taken. If somebody would send her an X-ray of a healthy hind leg of a folded eared cat, she would be grateful as she wanted to see the very first one.3
To date, no one has taken her up on the offer. The breeders’ unwillingness to have their cats examined speaks volumes. The authors of all studies on these cats agree: it ethically wrong to continue breeding these cats.
It disturbs me that any breeder would knowingly continue to create animals that will be in pain throughout their lives. As a cat lover myself, I am begging you, please do not buy Scottish folds. Do not support these unethical breeding practices, or the concept that it is acceptable to intentionally breed unhealthy animals for the sake of how they look.
1 Breed-related disorders of cats (discusses issues with other breeds as well)
2 Genetic welfare problems of companion animals: osteochondrodysplasia (a thorough description of the disease and its prevalence)
3 FIFe meeting notes (leading to a decision not to recognize Scottish folds as an offical breed due to the disorder)
There was also a follow-up email about Shelton’s offer which can be read here.
Studies on osteochondrodysplasia in Scottish Folds
Incomplete dominant osteochondrodysplasia in heterozygous Scottish Fold cats (this is the source of the above x-ray pictures)
Before you buy ANY animal, please do your research. If a breed suffers from high incidences of genetic disorders, don’t use your money to support the creation of more animal suffering.
This is important enough to be posted to my main blog. I know I reblogged this months and months ago, but not enough people know about this.
There is absolutely no way to “cure” the Scottish folds of this. The gene that causes the ear to look so cute and floppy is because of the cartilage not forming properly, which is what causes the health problems — even in cats that are bred Fold x Non Fold.
What’s fucking worse is that they’re cross breeding Scottish folds with other cats. As soon as I saw them crossed with Sphynxes (anyone who follows me is probably aware of the three Sphynxes we have and how much I love them), my heart sank. This is called a “Skinderlop”
Breeding is supposed to be about breeding healthy cats/animals free of defects, and about examining mutations to see what the health risks are, if there are any. It is not supposed to be about creating more cats who are doomed to horrible health problems from birth. That is so cruel it’s unbelievable - and people still defend this breed’s continued existence…
If you know anyone who is looking into getting a kitten from a breeder, PLEASE let them know about the health problems associated with Scottish folds and cross breeds so that they don’t continue to support this sort of thing. It is needlessly cruel.
I suppose your sister is following this blog then? You could let her read this. Or just give her the links in this post.
Dear Anons sister,
hedgehogs are great pets. They are, however, not for everyone. Some pets look very cute but aren’t suitable for every person. A hedgehog might be great for you, but it could be a huge let down as well.
As with all pets you need to be prepared. If you decide to go on and get a hedgehog, which is something neither your sister nor I can really stop you from, you should do your research first. A pet is a living creature and not a toy. Never buy a hedgehog without doing research. I highly encourage you to read my FAQ as well as this free e-book; the book has everything a new owner needs to know. It is a must read for every hedgehog owner.
Take a look at Hedgehog Central Forums. There is a lot of information on there as well, and a lot of owners you can talk to. There is a very useful thread on there about behaviour expectations.
Your sister is rightfully concerned. A hedgehog (or any other pet) isn’t something you should think lightly about.
* hedgehogs take up a lot of your time
* it can take months before they warm up to you (with daily handling)
* they need a heated environment to live in and require more specialized care
* they are nocturnal so you won’t see your hedgehog at all unless you wake him up
And since hedgehogs are prey animals and easily scared (and stressed), it is not very wise to keep them in a household with animals who like hunting small prey. Even though they have quills a dog can still hurt a hedgehog. WARNING VERY GRAPHIC IMAGES!! dog bite and another. A dog can kill a hedgehog.
There are a lot of people who are following this blog and enjoying my hedgehogs. For a lot of them my hedgehogs would be more fun than actually owning a real one. Not everyone has the patience to bond with a hedgehog, or the time to take care of one. People who go on this blog see cute hedgehogs. Not the poopy wheels, dirty cages, money I spend on them or the hours of bonding before I can actually pet them without them putting up their quills etc.
I can not stop you from buying a hedgehog. I can only try to give you some advice and ask you to please, please do your research and think about this twice. Don’t buy a hedgehog just because they look cute.
Ground pangolin and Aardvark from Djurgeografiska Skildringar, 1903.
German messenger dog in gas mask
In addition to humans, all of the animals used in WWI, including horses, pigeons, dogs, and mules, had to be outfitted with at least some degree of protection from the gas attacks going on all around them.
All animals suffered from inhalation injuries from the lung irritants, but the threat to the eyes and skin of war animals was less than in humans. Horse and mule eyes were noted to show remarkable healing power, even after vesicant (i.e. mustard gas - blister gases) contamination.
Image from US Army Chemical Corps Museum, taken by unknown Entente powers soldier in France.
My grandmother made gas masks for horses during WWII.
Two carte de visites from early 1900’s by Edvard Ropponen, Imatra, Finland. The pictures are from the same family album and I would guess that the man and the woman in them are siblings by their similar facial features. The backdrop behind the woman is a picture of Imatra rapid. From my personal collection.