Osteochondrodysplasia is a bone disease, which causes lameness and is unique to the Scottish Fold Cat breed. When two Scottish Folded ear cats are breed together the Kittens develop malformations in the legs, tail, spine, and growth plates (the end regions of the femur (thighbone). So serious is this disease that the Governing Council of The Cat Fancy (GCCF) has banned the breed. The cat breed continued in the USA as the American breeders felt that a folded ear cat and normal ear cat could breed and the disease causing arthritis and lameness would not replicate. With this particular breeding, the offspring would now only have one copy (heterozygous) of the gene and not two (one from each parent - homozygous). However new research out of Australia indicates that any Scottish Fold cat with folded ears bred to any other cat will still pass the gene onto their offspring. The only difference is that the arthritis is slower to manifest in the litter than if two folded ear cats were breed together. Nevertheless American breeders have been breeding out the gene for generations.
Legions in the bones begin to show in a kitten as young as seven weeks old. The metaphyses (area in the long bone also known as the growth plate) metatarsal, and metacarpal bones widen and become distorted. Similar distortions occur in the toes (phalanges) but they are not as pronounced. These abnormalities inhibit the normal shape and length of the bones in question. The cat limbs are seriously shortened because of it. The caudal vertebrae (end of the tail bone) end up being distorted and shorter than normal. At six months of age the cat develops spurs (excess bone growth) on the tarsal and metatarsal bones. This condition is very painful.
A tissue study will also reveal abnormal bone formation resulting from abnormal cell arrangement, deficient mineral deposits, and deficient hardening of the bone in the growth plates.
The earliest sign of Osteochondrodysplasia is a very thick, and very inflexible tail. The cat's feet are short, and the deformity in the skeletal frame makes it hard for the cat to support its own weight. The gait of the cat is also abnormal and together with the other features mentioned; it makes it difficult for the cat to walk and causes lameness. Eventually lesions in the joints progress to the point that the cat can no longer walk.
X-rays will show the malformation of the bone structure.
There is no specific treatment at present for Osteochondrodysplasia but medication to relieve the pain is proscribed. These could be anti-inflammatory drugs, general painkillers, and Glocosamin Chrondriotin sulfate. In some cases corrective surgery may be applicable.
The only known prevention to date is never to breed two Scottish Fold cats with folded ears or the gene will be passed on.
You may also choose to spay or neuter your Scottish Fold folded ear cat.
It is possible that future generations will no longer be affected by this disease as American breeders are aggressively phasing out the genotype by breeding folded ear cats with long ear cats.