Cat from Scottish Highlands

Photo of: Rumfold Prince Tiare, owned by Nadezhda Rumyantseva

It is hard to call the history of the Highland Fold long: the white cat Susie born just about fifty years ago in 1961 on a farm near Coupar Angus in Tayside, Scotland, is deemed to be the foremother of all Scottish Folds. The name of the town became one of the names of the breed: in Great Britain they call these cats "coupari".

Photo of: Desesperada Hija Pea of Singing Cats, owned by Denis Kolosov

As to the rest of Europe, it is generally accepted to name them Highland Folds – this name originates from northern and north-western Scottish Highlands. Some systems of North America provide for another name: they just add the tag "longhair" to the name "Scottish Fold".

It turns out that one and the same breed is registered under different names in various felinological organizations: Scottish Fold Longhair in TICA, CFA, and CCA, Highland Fold in WCF, and ACFA. However, this "discordance" does not influence the dignities of the breed and, of course, the feelings of Highland Fold's admirers.

"... By its unusual face expression..." (… Лица необщим выраженьем…, a quotation from the poem "Muse" by E.A. Baratynsky)

Photo of: Bennevis Jumbo, owned by Liliya Krekova

If a cat was the Baratynsky's muse, about which, as you know, these words are written, this would probably be a Highland Fold cat. Because it is its face – "the Scottish brand face" – that is the breed's business card. Felinologists consider this word correct, because saying a "muzzle" we will not anyhow reflect the peculiarities of appearance of this cat. Huge, brilliant, child-like naive eyes, full and plump whisker pads making the cat smile, a charming face with a guilty expression because of its pressed little ears... It will leave nobody indifferent! In addition, the Scottish keeps this child-like facial expression until a very old age, which does not become rougher even if it is a mature male cat. The reason for such an "unusual expression" is a specific structure of the head of Scottish cats: it is round, the skull is high, the cheekbones are wide, the chin and the lower jaw are broad and strong. As to the head shape of the Highland Fold, it resembles a ball, with little pressed ears and large, widely-set eyes located at a small slant relative to the nose. In accordance with the latest trends in the development of the breed, they must be absolutely round – without a straightened eyelid and a too prominent outer corner. The eyes must not be too slanted, but they must not be absolutely straight as those of Persian or Exotic cats. The head of the Highland Fold looks round in profile too. From this angle it resembles… a ball of ice cream where a small portion was taken out with a special round spoon :). The profile should have a prominent transition from the forehead to the nose without any "stop". The nose is of a medium length, wide and straight, and it should not be set too low. Recently breeders of the Highland Fold have deemed a pleasantly turned-up nose emphasizing the childishness of the muzzle to be a special chic.

Attention: spine!

Highland Folds are medium-sized cats, usually weighing 3-5.5 kilograms. They have a muscular, slightly stretched, right-angled body with a broad and strong back and shoulders equal to the croup in their width. As a rule, breeders pay special attention to the spine of Scottish cats: the cat's back must be absolutely straight – any hollows in the lumbar part, as well as any signs of gibbosity are not allowed. The Highland Fold can be only manifestly "slim"! The matter is that the dominant Fd gene – in other words, the gene of folded ears – not only modifies ears, but also influences the whole bone system of the animal.

Photo of: Goldenberry Nebula Nashira, owned by Svetlana Petrova

Therefore Scottish cat breeders constantly monitor the development of kittens and choose only the healthiest kittens in terms of their bones for further breeding. Otherwise there is a risk of birth of disabled kittens because problems with the spine tend to accumulate and even worsen in each subsequent generation. It is worth noting that this peculiarity of the Fd gene nearly became a cause for refusal to breed these cats: the enthusiasts who were not familiar with the principles of mutations of the spine and the entire bone system, were literally discouraged from regular birth of unhealthy kittens. American geneticists managed to find out that unhealthy kittens were born as a result of mating two folded-ear cats, with fusion of two dominant Fd genes. And this finding saved the breed! They began to mate Scottish Folds with the British Shorthair, from whom Scottish Folds borrowed their thick hair, and with Exotic cats, that have made the plush hair of Scottish Folds and the long hair of Highland Folds very silky. Scottish Folds also "inherited" the sweetest childish expression of their muzzles from them, which, combined with small closely pressed ears, makes any heart swing and any person smile, even the most serious one. The American Shorthair characterized by an absolutely healthy skeleton, a broad chest and a very flexible tail, has made a great contribution to preservation and development of the breed. By the way, some European felinological systems have not yet recognized the Scottish Fold because of the mutation causing danger for health of cats. The influx of blood of the American Shorthair to the Scottish Fold allowed not only to make the breed healthier, but also turned out to be successful prevention from birth of ill kittens in future generations. Therefore, although the breed has long acquired its unique appearance differing from that of its "parent" breeds, for the purposes of further breeding, breeders still select kittens with a broad developed chest, a broad muscular back, straight, strong legs with broad bones, long and very flexible tails. Because an incorrect tail is just a visible and tangible beginning of possible spine problems, that, as has already been said above, can accumulate from one generation to another.

Photo of: Childrenoli Baby Luntik, owned by Olga Samarina

As you see, breeding of Scottish Folds is a difficult, complex and very important matter, and only true enthusiasts can accomplish it. However, the breed has lots of fans and, honestly, I can easily understand them… :)

Ears that are "flowing" down the head!

Scottish ears are another issue. Scottish Shorthairs have closely pressed ears fit into the circle of the head. However, one cannot see the ears of a Highland Fold because of the thick, long hair, therefore the grooming of this breed provides for a special haircut of the head. The hair on the top of the head, on the forehead and near the ears is cut short to focus attention on rounded contours of the head and show the pressed ears and a firm fold of the ear. We often hear that Highland Folds can easily win their shorthair rivals at shows, because it is easy to conceal a weak ear fold under the long hair. And that very often ears of Highland Folds are not folded too closely. Indeed, it is quite the opposite! Ears of Scottish cats are very soft and modified, they often change depending on the circumstances and take the form dictated by conditions. Therefore the breeder is responsible for preservation of a natural ear fold since the first days of ear development.

Photo of: Demaris Karparaval Charles, owned by Oxana Turaeva

For this purpose, one should cut excessive tufts in the auricle and contour hair on ear tips, which hamper firm folding. A Highland Folds having a breed haircut since its babyhood can often boast a firmer fold than a Scottish Fold. As to the ear setting, ears of these cats are set high enough under the standard. However, some breeders have recently promoted a lower setting of fold ears – in this case in seems that the ears are "flowing" down the head, emphasizing the round shape of the high dome of the skull and the round forehead to a greater extent. The ear itself has one or two folds. The fold emerges at the age of about 2-5 weeks depending on the development of this or that breed line. The ear folds forward and begins to press against the head. By the kitten's age of a month and a half one can already see a fold – the one which is typical just for Scottish cats.

"Silky" Highlands

Another characteristic feature of the Highland Fold is its hair, which is unique in terms of its texture. It is sufficiently thick with a thick undercoat and silky, shiny and quite light overhair. But despite this density and thickness, it must look light and airy in motion and must flow like an expensive silk fringe in a static position. The collar, the pants, and the tail of the Highland Fold look particularly rich, and as to the rest of the body, the hair is semi-long there. Of course, one can achieve proper impression only by proper preparation of the hair, therefore maintenance of Highland Folds and, especially, presentation of these cats at shows are more laborious than in case of shorthair cats. But this is perhaps the only difficulty.

Photo of: Bonne Chance Cardinal Black of Yaskrava Zirka, owned by Liliya Kotlyar

Highland Fold, and no problems!

In general, Highland Folds are absolutely modest and therefore are easy to maintain. These are strong, sound cats with good health. If selection is proper, they are not amenable to serious diseases. An average life span of the Highland Fold makes up 15-20 years; of course, neuter animals live longer. Highlands easily get used to new conditions and get on well with any company, whether this be people with different temperaments or other cats, as well as dogs, pigs, rabbits, or other animals. These are cats with stable temperament that are deprived of aggression at the genetic level. They are all-sufficient and unobtrusive. These are little psychologists that feel the mood of their owners: if you are busy with something, the Highland Fold will not hamper you - it will watch you and wait with dignity when you pay attention to it. And, when you find time for your favourite pet after all, it will endlessly demonstrate its love and tenderness. Unlike many other cats, Highland Folds do not choose a single owner: they equally love all family members.

Photo of: Happy Folds Alisa, owned by Elena Kazantseva

Highland Folds – that preserve a childish face expression until an old age, as you remember – are also playful like children until a very old age. They get on well with children, are very patient playing with them, never protract their claws. Maximum, they can retreat from strong embraces. Highland Folds are very neat, they quickly get used to a litter box and a place for sharpening their claws. These are cats of great intelligence. They easily train, if you wish, and can actively speak to you. Highland Folds wonderfully travel because they have a natural ability to adapt to new conditions. And this is also an important advantage appreciated by active and mobile cat lovers!

Author: Natalia Repkina, the "Honey Owl" cattery

Photo of: Yaskrava Zirka's Nicolos, owned by Liliya Kotlyar