In the natural world, evolution generally works pretty well to adapt animals (including us) to specific environments and needs. The only snag is that it tends to take a while. Our pets are fantastic examples of evolution in progress, the domestication of wolves and wildcats over a few millennia has led to the beautiful abundance of pooches and kitties that share our homes today.
Occasionally (i.e. regularly), we humans may have gotten involved and sped the process up or perhaps steered off in slightly different directions by taking breeding out of the hands of natural selection with the intention of “engineering” animals to promote specific desired physical and personality traits.
In many instances the results are positive but occasionally the outcome may not be entirely as intended.
The Scottish Fold Cat is one example (and we will mention a few over the next weeks) of how certain aesthetically pleasing traits have become prioritized to the detriment of the health and potential wellbeing of the individual. Originating from a gene mutation, the distinctive Scottish Fold look has become desirable despite the high probability of accompanying health issues.
These felines are recognizable by their small and tightly forward folded ears. Their rounded features and comparatively large eyes create a “teddy-bear” like appearance which is often partnered with a docile and affectionate nature, all of which has made them hugely popular pets in recent years (especially with the wave of social media exposure).
What many cat owners may not know is that the distinctive ear fold is caused by a genetic mutation to the bone and cartilage (and is linked to dwarfism). This mutation doesn’t just affect the ears but also their joints and will lead to severe degenerative joint disease, a condition that impacts these cats from kittenhood and plagues them throughout their lives. Sadly, the docile temperament is often a symptom of the chronic discomfort and the cats’ avoidance of any exertion that may create further pain.
The fact is that through demand and lack of education, there are now more Scottish Folds in the world than ever before and, despite being a banned breed (or banned to breed) now in many countries, the countries that allow the breeding of these cats are catering to a growing demand.
Added to this unhappy tale is the extra woe that for ultra-cuteness, the Scottish Fold is often now crossbred with Persians or the British Blue to provide additional fluffiness…. Of course, these breeds do have their own potential health challenges to be aware of, many of which these hybrid Scottish Folds inherit… including polycystic kidney disease and a heightened susceptibility to heart disease (cardiomyopathy).
This means that we now have a population of these wonderfully cute cats that need a huge amount of love, understanding and support because without this, they really don’t have much to enjoy.
But… there is good news.
With that huge amount of love, understanding and support a Scottish Fold can live in relative comfort and enjoy a decent quality of life. However, education is key and knowing what the problems are means that you (and we as pet care professionals) can have a positive impact on these little kitties.
Here are Head Nurse Nora’s five tips to consider when caring for a Scottish Fold Cat:
The starting point to successfully improving a Scottish Fold’s comfort is a chat with the vet. As we see this breed frequently here at GVC, our doctors are extremely knowledgeable in recognising the indicators and providing effective treatment plans, utilising the best pain relief and management tools, including medicinal and/or alternative therapies.
Most Scottish Folds will benefit from pain relieving medication. Before or alongside that though, we always recommend a high-quality joint support supplement, even before your cat shows any signs of mobility issues (as these are highly probable). Yumove is one such supplement that has a myriad of wonderful ingredients designed to support positive joint health.
3. K – Laser
At GVC we have found a high rate of success in treating Scottish Folds with pain issues by using our state-of-the-art K Laser which acts as a potent anti-inflammatory. Learn more here.
4. Enhance the Home
Additionally, there are plenty of things than can be done at home to improve their comfort levels. Placing steps to areas they like to access, providing low litter trays, and helping your cat to groom can all help to relieve the pain and challenges that exist.
5. Regular Check-Ups
Our cat friendly nurses are always available for check-ups, the more regular the better if you think your cat may be in any discomfort. Unfortunately, they can’t tell you! So being extra perceptive and seeking veterinary advice is the best for your pets!
The awareness of these afflictions is so very important to enable the right treatments and help to be given. The reality is that without mans’ involvement, the genetic mutation that creates the distinctive Scottish Fold would more than likely become selected out of existence (or certainly be considered a rarity and not a norm)…. However, with love, patience and understanding we can help these fantastic felines lead a better life!