All physical characteristics of kittens, with the exception of changes experienced during pregnancy, are inherited. Cat breeding history is a history of selection. Certain physical and psychological traits are produced naturally when cats breed on their own, leading to some physical characteristics. Others are a result of human breeders’ careful selection. Said breeders breed cats that share a particular trait they like until they have a large enough population to call a breed.
Like many distinctive breed characteristics, cats’ floppy ears came about by accident. By choosing which cats to breed, humans can mix cat genes, but they cannot make the gene itself. Cats first developed the floppy ear gene naturally. Then, individuals carrying this gene were crossed to increase the likelihood that their progeny would also possess the folded ear trait. Fewer breeds possess the folded ear cat trait due to its rarity and relative youth.
Floppy Eared Cat Breeds
1. Scottish Fold
The Scottish Fold is the most well-known variety of floppy-eared cats. Although their folded-over ears are the most noticeable feature when we look at them, this is not the only characteristic that distinguishes their physical appearance. In addition, they have rounded faces and medium to short legs, which causes them to ‘pad’ their feet more than other cats do. The first Scottish Fold was a cat named Susie, who was born on a farm in Perthshire, Scotland. She later went by the names Highland Fold or Coupari. Two of her offspring inherited a unique ear fold that she developed. These cats were chosen by a neighbor named William Ross, who started the breed’s development along with geneticist Pat Turner.
All cats have flat, straight ears at birth, but by the third week, they are fully erect. The same holds true for Scottish Fold cats. The difference is that most Scottish Folds have an ear fold by the time their ears are upright. The Scottish Folds do not, however, all have this folded appearance. Those who don’t are referred to as “straights” and will always have straight ears.
2. American Curl
In contrast to the erect ears of the majority of other cat breeds, the American Curl’s ears are curled rather than folded, but they nonetheless have a “floppy” appearance. Cat guardians from all over the world now highly prize cats with these distinctively curled ears. Similar to the Scottish Fold, this breed of floppy-eared cat first appeared by accident. They were found in California at the beginning of the 1980s among some stray cats. This stray was taken in by Joel and Grace Ruga of Lakewood, California, and allowed to breed kittens. The origins of this breed can be traced back to these kittens, which also exhibited the curl trait. Proper selection took place in 1983 and was formally acknowledged by the FCA in 1999.
American Curl cats are very curious and playful creatures that never lose their sense of humor as they age. They are extremely active and able to adapt to their surroundings. It follows that they will probably follow their human guardians around the house. The relationship they form with us usually becomes very close.
The breed of large-eared cat known as the Oriental has a wedge-shaped head. Some Oriental cats have lower ears that may even fold over at the tips, even though the cat breed standard only permits show cats to have straight ears that stand up erect. They appear large and floppy as a result. Originating in Thailand, this breed of longer, leaner cats is known as the “bat-eared cat” (hence their name). They were created in the USA, like some of the other breeds on our list of floppy-eared cat breeds, though. Their muscular, yet sleek bodies enable them to be extremely active cats. Because they require so much energy, only energetic families should adopt them because they are so active.
Oriental kittens are born with floppy, folded-over ears that become more erect as they mature. These cats’ bat ears will, however, appear floppy when they move and play due to their large size. They might have some health issues similar to Siamese cats because of their ancestry, but they can live long and healthy lives.
Persian cats are not renowned for their ears, unlike the Scottish Fold and American Curl breeds. Instead, they are renowned for being among the glitziest and most opulent cats, with long, plush hair, friendly faces, and placid temperaments. They are the most popular cat breed in the US thanks to these characteristics.
The only domestic cats with small ears are, however. One of the characteristics that set them apart from the Turkish Angora, which was chosen back in 1989, is their diminutive size and less pointed ears. Aside from that, Persians’ ears appear smaller than they actually are due to their full, coarse coats.
Himalayans are a different cat breed that was created by mating a Persian cat, this time with a Siamese cat. These two breeds come together to create a beautiful and refined appearance. Himalayan cats have Siamese cat-like pointed markings on their faces and ears, but Persian-like doll-like features, big eyes, and plush coats.
Himalayan cats are large-boned cats as well, and their thick, long-haired coats further enhance this impression. One feature, though, is still small: their ears! They are considerably smaller than the ears of most cats, with a wide-set placement and rounded tips. Additionally, their big bodies and heavy fur coats emphasize the appearance of their already small ears.
Should We Encourage Floppy Ears In Cat?
As we’ve seen, cats with floppy ears can be among the most adoring and affectionate pets for people. However, we have also observed that some diseases are more prevalent in these breeds than in others as a result of the proliferation of specific genes. The Scottish Fold is more adversely impacted than the other floppy-ear cat breeds. The Scottish Fold has gained a lot of traction on social media sites like Instagram and Tik Tok because of its charming and distinctive appearance.
No cat is guaranteed a long or happy life, but we must do everything in our power to ensure that they do. Additionally, we need to encourage people to adopt cats from animal shelters as this relieves the strain on a system that is already leading to many cats suffering from neglect around the world.