Highlander cats are registered (2008 – things change) with TICA as a Preliminary New Breed. This is a rare and interesting purebred cat and proof that a cat is a genuine Highlander can be obtained by reference to TICA registration. Ask about this when considering purchasing.
The origin of this breed is interesting. Development began in 2004. The development of this cat originates in the Highland Lynx and has evolved since through selective breeding. It is useful to briefly look at the history of the breeds that make up the Highlander.
The Highland Lynx (no relation to the wild Lynx) was in turn first created on July 1st 1995 by crossing a Desert Lynx and Jungle Curl cats….
The Desert Lynx is a wild cat hybrid, a cross between the American Bobcat and a domestic cat; one of the following: American Lynx, Maine Coon, American Bobtail, Pixie-Bob or Manx.
The Jungle Curl cat is a curled eared wild cat hybrid. A cross between the African Jungle cat and a curled eared domestic cat, either the American Curl or a Canadian cat called the Hemingway Curl plus a mix of other genes from outcrosses to domestic shorthair cats such as the Serengeti, Bengal cats, Abyssinians and Jungle cat hybrids.
The Hemingway Curl is curled eared version of the famous Hemingway cats a number of which had more than the usual number of toes (polydactyl – see also American Polydactyl cat). The curled eared Hemingway cat occurred because of a spontaneous genetic mutation (naturally occurring mutation). A number of cat breeds have been created this way such as the Dwarf cats and Devon and Cornish Rex. There are others.
The African Jungle cat is a medium to small wild cat found in countries such as Egypt, Asia, India and Sri Lanka (see Jungle Cat Range). The African Jungle cat lives off small animals such has rodents and frogs. This is similar to other smaller wild cats such as the Serval and the Ocelot.
Highlander cats – Appearance
With a wild cat in the Highlander ancestry, it is no surprise that this is a bigger than average cat with a wild look. On my calculation the average weight between males and females would be in the order of 14 lbs (based on Magic Whiskers cattery figures). This puts Highlander cats in a similar bracket to a Ragdoll or RagaMuffin cats in terms of size (but not in terms of temperament). They are solid cats. Compare cat weights (opens a new page dedicated to domestic comparison and domestic cat to wild cat comparisons).
This cat breed has short or long hair and belly spots are de rigueur. The cat’s profile is “boxy” (blunt) and the ears are as you can see curled. As is the case for the American Curl the ears curl during the early days of the kittens growth. Breeders say that the curled ears are different to the American Curl cat. The curl of the ears is not usually as tight apparently but can range from tight to loose. The curl affects the top third of the ear. It is believed that the curl originates in the mutated gene carried by the Hemingway Curl cat mentioned above.
I shouldn’t forget that the tail is “short and thick”. This is a bobtailed cat.
The Highlander is a classic loving domestic cat like any other that likes to show off and greet you at the door. They are relatively quiet. Some cats are more vocal e.g. Siamese cats. They are a relatively high energy cat. This means a little more input from the person keeping this cat. A low input cat would be the Persian, for example.
It would seem that the mutated gene that produces the curled ears does not bring to the cat other unwanted physical characteristics that would be termed defects. The health of this cat is therefore good in terms of underlying health. This cat would also seem to be less tightly bred than some other purebred cats, which would encourage better underlying health.
Highlander cats – Breeders
This is quite a rare cat as mentioned so I would expect a relatively small number of breeders. I would like to recommend:
Magic Whiskers – link broken 10th March 2013.
Located in the USA they also breed LaPerm Cats.
Magic Whiskers were kind enough to ask me to write about Highlander cats and allow me to use their photographs for which I thank them.
Located in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA. TICA registered.