The cat so beloved of the American singer Taylor Swift has folded ears as a result of a genetic defect. The animals may look like treasures but the faulty gene can trigger serious health issues for the poor creatures.
Marc De Rijcke from Kasterlee (Antwerp) breeds Scottish folds and is incandescent about the decision taken by Flemish animal welfare minister Ben Weyts (Flemish nationalist): “I’ve been breeding Scottish folds here for three decades and in all this time only three or four pussies have developed minor problems in the tail. The gene is a natural mutation. Scottish folds can live to up to 16 years without developing any problems. Once upon a time two kittens with folded ears were born in Scotland. One survived and it was the start of the breed. You should always mate a Scottish fold with a British shorthair. Then the gene isn’t effective. Not all kittens will be Scottish folds. Only after three weeks will some kittens develop folded ears. All are born with straight ears.”
Vet Louise Mollaert of veterinary body Savab has welcomed the Flemish minister’s decision. She says breeding on the basis of genetic faults can have big ramifications for the well-being of the animals: “The fault is in the cartilage. Cartilage occurs everywhere and Scottish folds will develop problems like lameness”.