Do Scottish Folds Have Breathing Problems? Common Concerns and Care Tips

The Scottish Fold breed traces its roots back to a farm in Scotland in the 1960s. The first Scottish Fold, a white barn cat named Susie, was discovered with a unique genetic mutation that gave her folded ears. This distinctive feature caught the attention of a nearby farmer named William Ross, who then acquired Susie and began breeding her with other local cats.

Physical Characteristics

The most recognizable characteristic of Scottish Folds is their folded ears, which give them an endearing and distinctive appearance. However, it’s important to note that not all Scottish Folds are born with folded ears. Kittens in a Scottish Fold litter can have folded, straight, or partially folded ears, depending on their genetics. The degree of ear folding can also vary among individuals.

Aside from their ears, Scottish Folds have a sturdy and compact body with round faces and expressive eyes. They come in various coat colors and patterns, adding to their overall charm.

Common Concerns with Scottish Folds

While Scottish Folds are generally healthy cats, like any other breed, they can be prone to certain health issues. It’s essential for owners to be aware of these concerns to provide the best care for their furry friends.

Ear Disorders

As mentioned earlier, Scottish Folds have a genetic mutation that affects the structure of their ears. While the folded ears are generally harmless, they can sometimes lead to ear-related problems such as ear mites, infections, or wax buildup. Regular ear cleaning and monitoring for any signs of discomfort or infection are crucial for maintaining the ear health of Scottish Folds.

Joint and Bone Issues

Another concern with Scottish Folds is the potential for joint and bone issues. The genetic mutation that affects their ears can also affect their cartilage and bone development. Some Scottish Folds may experience conditions like osteochondrodysplasia, which can lead to arthritis or stiff joints. Providing proper nutrition, engaging in regular exercise, and providing soft bedding can help alleviate any discomfort associated with joint and bone issues.

Respiratory Problems

One of the most debated concerns with Scottish Folds is the possibility of respiratory problems. It is often claimed that the folded ear gene is linked to issues with breathing, but the truth is more nuanced.

Do Scottish Folds Have Breathing Problems?

Exploring the Controversy

There is ongoing controversy regarding whether Scottish Folds are more prone to respiratory problems compared to other breeds. Some argue that the folded ear gene affects the structure of the skull and nasal passages, potentially leading to breathing difficulties. However, others assert that not all Scottish Folds experience respiratory issues and that responsible breeding practices can minimize the risks.

Understanding the Genetic Mutation

The gene responsible for the folded ears in Scottish Folds is called a dominant gene. This means that if a kitten inherits the gene from one parent, it will have folded ears. However, if a kitten inherits the gene from both parents, it may experience severe skeletal abnormalities and other health issues. Responsible breeders carefully select mate pairs to ensure the health and well-being of their Scottish Fold kittens.

Caring for a Scottish Fold

Choosing the Right Environment

Creating a suitable environment for your Scottish Fold is essential for their overall well-being. Providing a calm and stress-free space, away from loud noises or strong scents, can help prevent potential respiratory irritants.

Maintaining Good Air Quality

To support the respiratory health of your Scottish Fold, it’s crucial to maintain good air quality in your home. Regularly cleaning and dusting, using air purifiers, and ensuring proper ventilation can help minimize potential triggers for respiratory issues.

Regular Veterinary Check-ups

Routine veterinary check-ups are vital for monitoring your Scottish Fold’s overall health. Regular examinations allow the veterinarian to assess their breathing, check for any signs of respiratory distress, and address any concerns promptly.

Addressing Breathing Concerns

Identifying Signs of Respiratory Issues

As a Scottish Fold owner, it’s essential to be vigilant and watch for any signs of respiratory problems. Symptoms may include wheezing, coughing, rapid or labored breathing, or nasal discharge. If you notice any of these signs, it’s crucial to consult your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Providing Proper Breathing Support

If your Scottish Fold does experience breathing difficulties, there are ways to provide support to improve their comfort. Using a humidifier, keeping them well-hydrated, and ensuring they have access to clean air are some measures that can help alleviate respiratory distress.


While Scottish Folds may have certain breed-specific health concerns, including potential respiratory issues, responsible breeding practices and proactive care can help minimize these risks. By understanding the breed’s unique characteristics, providing a suitable environment, and staying attentive to their health, Scottish Folds can live happy and healthy lives as cherished companions. Remember, if you have any concerns about your cat’s health, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian who can provide personalized advice and guidance.

ThePetFaq Team