Scottish Folds are renowned for their adorably unique appearance resulting from their flat-folded ears, big eyes, and friendly round faces. They are affectionate, easy-going cats that form a loving bond with their owners. Though that bond will probably last for your kitty’s “forever”, it is likely to only span a short period of their human’s life.
It could help to prepare for that inevitable day by having an idea of how long you can expect to share your life with that special feline. In this article, we’ll take a look at the average lifespan of a Scottish Fold, and the various factors that could determine this.
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- What’s the Average Lifespan of a Scottish Fold?
- Why Do Some Scottish Folds Live Longer Than Others?
- The Four Life Stages of a Scottish Fold
- How to Tell Your Scottish Fold’s Age
What’s the Average Lifespan of a Scottish Fold?
The life expectancy for a healthy Scottish Fold is approximately 15 years, which is along the lines of the average for cats in general. A healthy Scottish Fold may live beyond this age, but the reality is that many of these kitties will experience deteriorating health well before they approach this age. For these cats the chances of them reaching 15 years of age are slim. Some sources report that a life expectancy of between 9–12 years is more realistic.
Why Do Some Scottish Folds Live Longer Than Others?
The genetic makeup of Scottish Folds is possibly the single most important factor that will determine their life expectancy. All Scottish Folds carry a gene that affects the cartilage in their ears, giving them their cute, folded-over shape. Unfortunately, this gene also affects the cartilage in the rest of their body, and results in a condition called osteochondrodysplasia, which causes deformities of the hind limb and tail. It is impossible to predict how severe these deformities may become over the years. Many cats may live normal, healthy lives but others may not fare as well.
2. Breeding History
Scottish Folds that inherit one copy of the gene responsible for the folded ear trait may live normal, happy lives. Cats that inherit two copies of the gene, however, are almost assured of developing severe osteochondrodysplasia, resulting in crippling deformities and pain from a young age. To ensure that this doesn’t happen, Scottish Folds should never be bred to one another.
In the US, breeding of Scottish Folds is allowed under very strict conditions. A Scottish Fold may only be bred to a Scottish Shorthair, resulting in a litter in which approximately half the kittens will develop the distinctive ear fold, but have a lesser chance of developing other severe deformities. The breeding of Scottish Folds, under any conditions, is banned in the UK, France, and many other regions because of the gene mutation that can cause debilitating deformities.
Considering the several genetic conditions to which Scottish Folds are predisposed, they must receive regular check-ups and veterinary care when it is required. If not, they may suffer unnecessarily and their life expectancy may be compromised. Conversely, a Scottish Fold that exhibits symptoms of known hereditary diseases may live much longer than would be expected if it receives the correct care and treatment.
Scottish Folds are true carnivores and require a diet rich in age-appropriate meat-derived protein and very little carbohydrates. Overlooking this fact may have negative effects on life expectancy.
They are not a very active breed since they are often in arthritic discomfort, and are therefore prone to being overweight. If this is not adequately addressed through correct nutrition and feeding schedules, it may result in obesity, further health complications, and a shortened life.
5. Environment and Conditions
The environment in which the Scottish Fold lives can impact their health and happiness. Unhappy cats do not thrive, and will sometimes even begin to suffer physiologically, which may lead to shortened life expectancy.
Due to their inherent pain levels and subsequent lack of general activity and athleticism, Scottish Folds might find an environment where such is required of them quite stressful and physically challenging. They would not fare very well as outdoor cats, nor can they be expected to live very long under these conditions.
Scottish Folds afflicted with advanced symptoms of osteochondrodysplasia would need to be provided with a very specific environment to accommodate their needs, in order to ensure optimal longevity of life.
On average, female Scottish Folds will outlive male cats. Among male cats, neutered ones tend to live longer than their intact counterparts.
The Four Life Stages of a Scottish Fold
Scottish Folds are kittens up until they are a year old. They are born with their ears flat to their head, and at about three days old, they start to straighten. If the kitten is going to exhibit the folded ear trait, the ears will fold down again at around three to four weeks old.
2. Young Adult
They are considered to be young adults between the ages of one and six years old. Signs of osteochondrodysplasia may already be present—particularly, a stiff and painful tail.
3. Mature Adult
Between the ages of 7–10 years old, the Scottish Fold enters the mature adult stage of its life.
Should the Scottish Fold be healthy, it may live beyond 10 years of age into its senior stage until the end of their life.
How to Tell Your Scottish Fold’s Age
The best way to determine a Scottish Fold’s age is by its teeth. Other methods of determining age—such as gait, posture, coat coarseness, and graying of the hair—may be unreliable in this breed. This is because they may exhibit these advanced signs of aging from an early age, due to arthritis, immobility, and pain.
Aside from being smaller in size, a kitten under four months of age will still have all of its baby teeth and not yet have its molars. If the Scottish Fold kitten is beyond the newborn stage, still very young but exhibits folded-over ears, then it is certain to be older than three or four weeks old.
If the kitty’s mouth is full of brilliant white adult teeth, that’s a good indicator that it is between six months and a year old. From a year old onward, the teeth will steadily become yellower. A cat between the ages of 5–10 years old will have visible yellowing, and signs of wear and tear of the teeth.
As they approach 10 years of age, yellowing of the teeth is substantial, and wear and tear will be easily discernable. Additionally, there may be signs of tartar build-up. Cats over 10 years old will have significant wear and tear, tartar build-up and may even be missing teeth.
The eyes are also a useful indicator of age. An older cat might have some clouding of the eyes, and the irises may exhibit a slightly jagged edge.
Scottish Folds are adorable cats that make the most loving, devoted companions. But as we have seen, they are prone to several debilitating health conditions. There is a good chance that these will play a role in shortening their lifespan and, sadly, potentially also affect their quality of life. As animal lovers, we want our beloved fur babies to live long, healthy, happy lives. Therefore, the continuation of this breed bears some weighty ethical considerations.
Featured Image Credit: hannadarzy, Shutterstock
- 1 What’s the Average Lifespan of a Scottish Fold?
- 2 Why Do Some Scottish Folds Live Longer Than Others?
- 3 The Four Life Stages of a Scottish Fold
- 4 How to Tell Your Scottish Fold’s Age
- 5 Conclusion