The inspiration for writing about what you need to know before buying a Scottish Fold kitten comes from being an active member of several cat groups on Facebook. Over the years, I’ve heard about a lot of sick Scottish Folds from Backyard Breeders (BYBs) or sometimes from breeders in associations, who didn’t test their breeding cats.
Other people in the groups often ask:
“Why don’t people bother to get more information before buying a cat? They spend more time choosing a new smartphone or a washing machine!”
And my answer is (as one of those people who got my two Scottish Fold cats from BYBs), “I googled the breed before getting a Scottish Fold, but I didn’t find out about the risks until after I already had them and joined a German-speaking educational group online.”
What you need to know before you buy your first Scottish Fold kitten
So, here it is. Here’s what people should know before getting a Scottish Fold kitten:
In a nutshell: A lot of Scottish Fold cats suffer from hereditary issues. The same gene that causes the cute folded ears (TRPV4) can also weaken the cartilage in other areas of their bodies, resulting in painful osteochondrodysplasia or OCD which is similar to arthritis. Other typical conditions include polycystic kidney disease or PKD which affects and eventually destroys kidney function and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or HCM, a congenital thickening of the walls of the heart. Either of these will most likely significantly shorten the life of your dear kitty. And OCD seriously detracts from their quality of life so that they will need pain medications and treatment – or in severe cases, they may possibly even have to be euthanized. 😿
“What can I do to make sure I get a healthy Scottish Fold kitten?”
My tip: Find a good breeder – someone who is a member of a reputable association, someone who knows their stuff and is known on the cat show circuit. Or someone who is highly recommended in an online community, such as in a large Facebook group with hundreds of members. Because these are the breeders who have accountability for their actions. People know who they are and they have a reputation to lose. You should contact other members of the group privately who have bought kittens from them and get the real story.
Always ask to view both of your Foldie’s parents – in advance via video chat before you commit to buying your kitten. Your kitten should live with its mother and siblings until adoption day – at the age of at least 12 weeks, better 14 or 16 weeks. Look for that one parent has straight ears and that none of the cats are kept in cages.
The difference between Breeders in Associations and Backyard Breeders
Whereas Backyard Breeders sell their potentially sick kittens anonymously using the local classifieds and continue along their merry little way. No one knows who they are, how long or how often they’ve been producing kittens or who else has bought cats from them. And you will never be able to find any of this out from an independent source either. And then YOU are the one stuck with the problems – no guarantees, no refunds, no help with the never-ending vet bills. They probably will even stop returning your calls or mails pretty soon after they are aware of the problems, that they are expensive and that they can’t be fixed. So, instead of years of pure enjoyment with your beautiful Scottish Fold cat, you are faced with years of worry, sadness and regret. 💔
I go on to examine all of the reasons that make people make the wrong decision, one by one: Yes, the kitten is already there and needs a home, but as long as it is profitable for a BYB to mate untested cats and thus produce potentially sick kittens, they will keep on doing it. They may tell you that if you don’t take the kitten, that it will end up at a shelter. Well, let that be a lesson to them – when they have to pay to get rid of their kittens, they will finally have the necessary incentive to get their animals fixed and stop with their irresponsible breeding, causing a lifelong of misery to living, feeling beings. Please, please, please do not give these people your money! You are basically rewarding them for animal cruelty. 😿
Backyard Breeders don’t know what they’re doing (wrong)
Don’t be afraid to tell them what they are doing wrong either – or send them a link to this article with my regards. 🙋♀️ A lot of BYBs genuinely don’t understand the harm in it – some grew up in families where it was normal not to spay or alter their animals and then allow them to reproduce. But Scottish Fold cats are not like other breeds, where you only have to test for the basics: the heart for HCM, the kidneys for PKD, for the diseases FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) and FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus) and possibly hip dysplasia screening (though this is usually only a problem with the larger breeds like Maine Coon). With Folds, you also need some understanding of genetics in order to plan a breeding program.
It is imperative that you NEVER cross two Folds: this is the cardinal sin of Scottish Fold breeding!!! 🚩
So this means running genetic tests on all of the straight-eared cats in order to be sure because sometimes the ears of cats with the Fold gene can become almost completely upright over time.
Why a Backyard Breeder can’t just “go legit”
There is not a BYB on earth who is willing to invest in all of this testing. And even if there were, it still wouldn’t be enough because their cats don’t have a pedigree. So getting them tested would only be examining a single generation, which is just the tip of the iceberg – you wouldn’t know anything about the previous generations leading up to the two cats in question. Good breeders of pedigreed animals not only have this information, they understand why it’s important and how to use it to make informed decisions when deciding which cats to breed.
Just, unfortunately, while talking to my online contacts about wanting to compile a central registry of Scottish Fold breeders, I discovered that not even all of the breeders who belong to an association are perfect. It turns out that some of them cut corners and don’t do as much testing as they say they do. 😧
It’s all up to YOU
So this is why it’s up to YOU – the person looking to get a Scottish Fold kitten – to ask to see the results of the tests for their breeding animals. Otherwise, you are “buying the cat in the bag” – as the German expression goes. And that means, you are making a decision blind and are possibly in for a nasty surprise. Unlike any other area where people might sell you something for a lot of money that does not meet your expectations, you have absolutely no recourse of action – not even a lawsuit because it’s not illegal to breed non-pedigreed cats and you won’t be able to prove that they knowingly sold you an animal that was likely to become sick and that they should have known better.
Buying Scottish Fold Kittens from a Backyard Breeder is never a Bargain!
When I say “a lot of money,” I’m not just referring to the purchase price either: It’s mainly the vet bills. It will become very clear to you, very fast, that you did not get a bargain when you purchased a poorly bred cat from a BYB. You will end up spending more money at the vet’s office in a very short time than you would have for a kitten (or two) from a grand champion from an excellent, conscientious breeder that is just gleaming with health. 🌟
And the worst part is: The illnesses that come from reckless breeding can never be cured, only managed. So you will spend and spend and spend and never have a completely healthy cat, where you can just enjoy them without worry. You will have a helpless, pitiful, suffering animal with a shorter lifespan than a healthy Scottish Fold cat would have. No part of this will be a bargain for you – other than the temptation of the lower initial investment. 💸
“What if I can’t afford a Scottish Fold with Pedigree Papers?”
I talk about alternatives – what if you don’t have around two thousand dollars lying around for well-bred Scottish Fold kittens with a pedigree? Then you should talk to breeders about acquiring retired breeding cats or contact a Scottish Fold rescue organization. Though the rescued cats there might not have pedigrees either, they are no longer kittens, so it is possible to do some testing on them and at least know what to expect healthwise. And at the same time you would be doing something good by giving a deserving cat a good home without putting money in the pockets of unscrupulous people who do not deserve the title of breeder. They are multipliers who just put any two cats together, come what may.
“What are my odds?”
So, I hope now you have an inkling of what can go wrong if you just google for Scottish Fold kittens online and decide to buy one because it looks cute in a photo. According to a poll I took in 3 different Facebook groups, the risks are alarming: see the poll results here. The chances of getting a cat with hereditary issues is 40% when you buy a cat from a BYB; that’s 2 in 5 cats who are made to suffer their whole lives due to irresponsible breeding.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: The healthy ones are at least as cute, possibly cuter because as pedigree cats, they are going to look like a Scottish Fold is supposed to look. The BYB might have mated a Fold with the neighbor’s house cat and so not only will the cat look different, it is not going to have the same, adorable character either.
Why I am trying to reach potential buyers of Scottish Fold Kittens
I wish it were just a case of “You get what you pay for.” Then I would not try to meddle in your decision – I mean, I certainly don’t care what kind of smart phone or TV you decide to buy. But kittens aren’t inanimate objects: These little creatures are able to feel pain and that’s exactly what they feel when they are suffering from a heart condition, chronic kidney problems or joint issues because no one tested their parents or were not selective enough when breeding. And you know what? Their people suffer with them. All of this could be avoided. But first, people need more information so they will stop getting their Scottish Fold kittens from Backyard Breeders or unscrupulous breeders in associations. 🎗
Please feel free to share this article – via link or I would be happy to send you the entire thing as a PDF for easier printing. My only request is that you include the source (http://scottish-fold-kittens.info/), so that the people you share it with can find the original, in case the text is updated over time.
Thank you for your time. I sincerely wish you and your future furry family member all of the best!
December 1, 2019