Big ears (MC) and No ears (Fold)

By 'no ears' I mean no visible ears. This is a nice photo showing the very sharp difference in the head profile of the Maine Coon and the Scottish Fold. In terms of the anatomy of the ear flap they are at extremes of the spectrum. The Maine Coon (MC) has big and often tall triangular ear flaps topped off by stiff hairs (lynx tips) which make the ears look even bigger. MC ears are one of their hallmark or defining anatomical characteristics.

Maine Coon and Scottish Fold
Maine Coon and Scottish Fold. Image: Twitter.

The only anatomical characteristic which defines the Scottish Fold (Folds) is the flattened ear flaps. You can adopt Folds which have normal ears because that is how breeding has to take place. But without the flattened ear flaps straight Scottish Folds looks like any other non-purebred cat

In order to avoid dire genetically created and debilitating cartilage problems breeders can't breed Fold to Fold which means half the litter are non-Folds. Which also means that you'll see "Scottish Fold Straights" for sale online. They are purebred but they don't look purebred so I can't see the point.

There are some commentators who say that Scottish Fold breeding should be discontinued as it is cruel. That's a big discussion. They are banned in Germany for this reason. And The Netherlands was in the process of banning the breed. Perhaps it has happened.

Sometimes breeders go a little too far with MC breeding and create cats with extraordinary ear flaps. The ones we see in the picture are nice and neutral for a MC.

Fold kittens are not born with flattened ears. It takes a while as the cartilage of the ear flap loses its rigidity and they collapse against the cranium.

More on the Fold

The Scottish Fold is a cat breed known for its unique appearance, which includes flattened ears. The process that gives the Scottish Fold its flattened ears is a natural genetic mutation.

The Scottish Fold's distinctive ear shape is caused by a dominant gene that affects the development of the ear cartilage. Kittens born with the folded ear gene will have ears that begin to fold forward at around three to four weeks of age. By the time the kitten is four months old, its ears will have taken on their characteristic shape.

It's important to note that not all Scottish Fold kittens will have folded ears. Kittens who inherit two copies of the gene responsible for the fold, one from each parent, may develop skeletal abnormalities, such as a short or twisted tail, as well as severe arthritis in their joints. This is why many responsible breeders will not breed Scottish Folds with each other, to avoid producing kittens with these health problems.

Overall, while the flattened ears of the Scottish Fold are a result of a genetic mutation, it's important for breeders to prioritize the health and welfare of their cats when breeding for physical traits.


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