by Linnea Danielsen
Susie, the first Scottish Fold cat, was discovered in 1961 in the Tayside Region of Scotland, at a farm near Coupar Angus. She was a white barn cat with ears that folded downward and forward on her head. Her face resembled an "owl" or an "otter's face". A shepherd by the name of William Ross first noticed Susie's unique ears at a neighbor's barn. Since William and his wife Mary were Cat Fanciers they were fascinated with Susie. A year later Susie and a local tom had a litter of two folded ear kittens and the Ross's acquired the female and named her Snooks. Snooks' son was bred to a British Shorthair and so began the breed known today as the Scottish Fold. At this time the breed was registered with the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy in Great Britain.
In the mid 1960s, Pat Turner, a cat breeder and geneticist, became involved in the development of the Fold. Over the next 3 years she oversaw the breedings which produced 76 kittens - 42 with folded ears and 34 with straight ears. She and Peter Dyte, another British geneticist, agreed that the gene mutation responsible for folded ears is a simple dominant. This means that if a kitten inherits a gene from one parent for straight ears and one from a parent with the gene for folded ears, it will be a fold. They also learned that the original cats carried the longhair gene.
Susie, the original fold, was a loose fold which means the tips of her ears bent forward about halfway up the ear. This is now called a single fold. Today's folds have ear folds ranging from the loose single
fold to the very tight triple fold which is seen in the show quality cats.
A faction in the British Cat Fancy felt that the Scottish Fold would be prone to ear infections and deafness. They campaigned to prevent their acceptance for registry in Great Britain. Folds are still not accepted for registry in registries of Great Britain and Europe.
Mrs. Ross arranged for some of her folds to be shipped to Neil Todd, Ph.D., a geneticist in Newtonville, MA in the early 1970's. The first American born litter arrived Nov. 30, 1971. After his study ended, some folded kittens were given to first one CFA affiliated breeder who gave some to another, etc., until the shorthair Scottish Folds were accepted by ACA for registration in 1973, ACFA and CFA in 1974. TICA was the first registry to recognized the longhairs for championship competition in the 1987-88 show season and CFA followed in 1993-94.
Although the Ross' had to give up their efforts in their own country to develop and raise these adorable cats, they will always be regarded in America as the founders of the breed.