First Feline Encounters

My first furry pet was a cat. I was in elementary when my grandmother gave us an ordinary brown cat and I vividly remember how nice it was. It was female, and she became a part of our family.

 

Some trivia from personal experience:

  • Cats are clean animals. They relieve themselves in a particular spot. Often, they are not groomed nor bathed, as cats are able to clean up by licking themselves. But for some owners, we bathe them with cat soap or shampoo, and brush their fur.
  • Cats are normally for mice control rather than as pets, in the way that dogs are for guarding our homes.
  • They were given leftovers and worse, the belief is that fish bones are a cat’s main diet.
  • Black cats were avoided because of the local belief that they are unlucky. Now, black cats are considered stunning.
  • Cats are one of the most popular pets. Special formulated cat foods, both dry and wet, have become a lucrative business.
  • Adding to making cat care easy is cat litter technology. They come in different scents; I find the charcoal type to be great for reducing the foul smell.

Finding Our Fold

Last year, my daughter Jamie persuaded me to consider having a cat again. I told her that it is not in my wish list for the next few years. But the charisma of my daughter succeeded and I end up researching for information for the cat.

Animal Scene managing editor Jeffrey Lim was patient enough to explain to me the advantages and disadvantages of a Scottish Fold. Since the trademark ears are from mutated genes, some kittens have straight ears. Moreover, even if you acquired a a kitten with a folded ear, there is no guarantee it will stay folded.

Taylor Swift was a great influence on my daughter; the singer shares in her social media accounts how adorable the breed is.

We got our Scottish fold from our breeder friend Archie. Prices for the Scottish Fold started at ₱ 18,000. Archie was nice enough to deliver the kitten to us. Jamie named the cat Yumi. Yumi provided us tons of joy and wit. Yumi loves to play with tinkling toys, uses the cat scratcher, and runs after the light rays of a flashlight directed toward the floor. Yumi enjoys using the bed and the podium stand I designed for her. She is neat and uses the cat litter conscientiously. I give Yumi dry cat food as her main diet and provide occasional canned cat food. You can see in the photos when Yumi was still a kitten how cute her folded ears were. After a year, you will notice that it had slightly unfolded. It is a good thing it didn’t fully straighten.

Some Basics

With its uniquely folded ears, round face, and wide eyes, the Scottish Fold is described as looking like a an owl or a teddy bear. A mellow, loving breed, this cat adapts easily to new environments and enjoys adults, children, and other pets. The Scottish Fold usually bonds with one person, following you from room to room like a loyal puppy. This playful, intelligent breed has two coat varieties: longhair and shorthair.

Yumi is a shorthaired Fold with a dense, plush coat with a soft texture. The longhaired variety has medium-long to long fur with britches. The Scottish Fold comes in a number of colors and patterns, including solid, tabby, tabby and white, bicolor and parti – color. Eye color depends on coat color.

After its ears, the next thing you will notice about a Scottish Fold is its habit of posing in odd positions: flat out on the floor like a frog, sitting up lying on its back, paws up in the air as it stretches.

Scottish Folds tend to live around 11 to 14 years.

Who Should Have a Fold?

The friendly, laid-back Scottish Fold is a perfect choice for families with children and cat-friendly dogs. It loves the attention received from children who treat it politely and with respect; it likes to play and is capable of learning tricks. It is happy to live with cat-friendly dogs, too, thanks to its amiable disposition. Introduce pets slowly and under controlled circumstances to ensure that they learn to get along together.

Personality

This is a smart, moderately active cat. The Scottish Fold enjoys teaser toys that test its agility and puzzle toys that challenge its intelligence. Its favorite activity is anything that involves human interaction, including other pet animals. Yumi’s favourite activity is to annoy and play hide and seek with my Chihuahua Puchie.

There is nothing a Scottish Fold likes better than to be with its people, participating in whatever they are doing. It is a sweet cat who enjoys attention. They are highly personable and tend to bond well with their entire human and companion pet family. I am at fault here since most of the time, all of us in the family are at work and school. We see to it to have time with Yumi in the morning and late afternoon.

It is a good thing that she is with other pets like dogs, rabbits, and guinea pigs. They are in separate enclosures, but can see each other. Scottish Folds typically are content in almost any type of household. They do well in noisy homes with children and other cats and dogs, although they seem to be just as pleased to be only pets in a one-person household.

Yumi will always annoy Puchie, then hide when Puchie gets exasperated and runs after her. While Scottish Folds appreciate attention, affection, and play time, they can be quite content to spend their days alone at home napping while their owners are at work. The Scottish Folds are quiet cats that deliver a very slight, soft meow.

Grooming

Regular grooming is advisable to keep its coat in good shape. It stimulates circulation, massages the skin, and removes debris and loose hair. Frequency should be once a week for short hair and twice a week for long hair varieties. Comb the Scottish Fold’s coat weekly to remove dead hair and distribute skin oils. A longhaired Fold may need to be groomed a couple of times a week to ensure that tangles do not develop.

Trim the nails every couple of weeks.

Keep the Scottish Fold’s litter box spotlessly clean. Cats are very particular about bathroom hygiene, and a clean litter box will help to keep the coat clean as well.

Health Concerns

I discovered while researching online that Scottish Folds are generally healthy. It does not have as many known illnesses and conditions as other cats.

My experience with the Scottish Fold was that it is prone to fungal issues. Fungus is contagious and affects other animals, including us pet owners. Make sure to separate a cat with fungus from other furry pets, and we pet owners should wash our hands thoroughly after touching or petting the infected cat. Best to use gloves for prevention.

They are also susceptible to degenerative joint disease causing pain or poor mobility. It is important to handle the tail carefully if it has developed stiffness. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a form of heart disease, has been seen in the breed, but it has not yet been proven a heritable form of the disease.

It is a good idea to keep Scottish Folds as indoor-only cats to protect them from diseases spread by other cats and attacks by unfriendly dogs. Scottish Folds who go outdoors also run the risk of being stolen by someone who would like to have such a beautiful cat.

I had Yumi neutered and the customers at the veterinary clinic tried to discourage me from doing so, saying the cat was so beautiful that having it neutered would be a waste. But I believe that having any pet and breeding are two different responsibilities. A warning though: neutering a cat can cost a lot.

Me and my Fold

After being with dogs for years, having a cat gives me a peculiar feeling. I have a difficult time adjusting to its behavior. Cats and dogs have similarities but their differences are much more obvious. Cats tend to be more calm yet paranoid in their movements. Dogs tend to be straightforward in their relationships with their owners.

After having my nice experience with Yumi, I now have a feline wish list. Siamese cats are now my “the one that got away.” I am looking forward to having an American Shorthair, Bengal, Exotic Shorthair, Persian, and British Shorthair.

For now, I am still enjoying my renewed interest with cats. I hope they are as fascinating as the Scottish fold.

 

This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s April 2018 issue.