photo strictly © copyright Helmi Flick

Introduction

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.

Baby Max – the photo is strictly copyright Magic Whiskers cattery and published here with their permission 1

Origin

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.

Another cat with unusual ears is the Scottish Fold (flat ear flaps or pinnae). Another purebred cat that is a Jungle cat hybrid is the Chausie.

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.

photo strictly © copyright Helmi Flick

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).

Highlander in competition. Photo: facebook.com/HighlanderCats

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.

Highlander Kitten photo copyright Magic Whiskers

Character

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.

photo strictly © copyright Helmi Flick

Health

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.

photo strictly © copyright Helmi Flick

Are Highlander Cats Hypoallergenic?

I have never heard on my many travels on the internet that this cat breed is hypoallergenic. I am sure that they are not. If anyone has heard to the contrary please leave a comment. People, often cat breeders, do like to try promote their cats in some way or another and so some breeders might claim the Highlander is hypoallergenic.

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.

Northshore Cats
Located in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA. TICA registered.

Please comment here using either Facebook or WordPress (when available).
Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

View Comments

  • Hello, My son loves the Highlander and would very much like to own one. But I have a few concerns/questions that I am hoping someone can answer for me. My son has muscular dystrophy and can no longer move his arms or legs.My concern would be that a cat of this size could potentially hurt him by jumping on him and not getting off of him when my son told him to. I have been told that the Highlander is intelligent, does this mean that the kitten could be trained to stay off of my son. My second concern would be my young grand children, are these cats gentle with children? And we own a large dog, how well do these cats do with dogs. I am hoping that I can get some answers. We have fostered many cats in the past and my daughter has a Maincoon, but this is the first time I have encountered a Highlander. Are they as good with people as I have read.

    Thank you.

    • Hi Pauline, thanks for visiting and asking. Sorry to hear about your son. I wish him well.

      The Highlander is a rare cat breed and like all cat breeds the main factor as to whether the cat is friendly with dogs is how the cat was raised - socialised. All cats of any breed should be fine with dogs and children but you should check with the breeder. Also it depends in the individual cat to a large extent whether they get along with any individual dog. There is a chemistry thing going just the same as for humans.

      As to being gentle with children, once again the answer is yes they can and should be gentle with children but it does depend on how gentle the child is with the cat.

      The only slight concern I have is that there is some wild blood in this cat which normally makes domestic cats slightly less domesticated. If you want a placid, docile cat then another breed might be preferable (e.g. Ragdoll or traditional Persian). You son likes some wild cat in the cat it seems or a cat that looks more wild. The Ocicat is pure domestic cat but looks like a wild cat and is also rare. He might consider this breed as well.

      Here is a link to the breed:

      https://pictures-of-cats.org/ocicat.html

      When you buy from a breeder you should meet the breeder and her facilities and reassure yourself they are good and the cats superbly socialised. The better socialised the cat the better he/she will be in terms of behavior towards your son.

      This may be a problem as there are not many breeders of this cat.

      Certainly the Highlander can be trained to get off or stay off your son or anything you desire. It might take a bit of patience and thought but it can be done.

      Here is a page on clicker training:

      http://cat-chitchat.pictures-of-cats.org/2008/12/cat-clicker-training.html

      There are many other pages on PoC on cat training an aspects of it.

  • i have a beautiful highlander kitten from lisa at rottins.com.she is a awesome breeder and person. if you are looking for a beautiful cat check out her web site

    • Thanks Sherry to sharing that information (and visiting). Nice to hear from you.

  • Today we have king of the mountain going on, kitten and Bella are competing over who gets the cat tree

      • That is the look I was going for the "Look of the Wild the Heart of the Tame" I am so use to their size I forget how much bigger my girls are than others out there. This cat pole is for the average cat and it fits the kitten just fine :) The adults is a whole different story.......They overfill the shelf ;)

  • I unfortunately found out some things about my cats breeder. Either way, he is my beautiful boy and I love him so so much. <3

    • Jessica I am really sorry that you had a tough time with The person you got your Highlander From.:(
      But we are very happy to have you in our Highlander group on FaceBook now. Where we get to share Funny photos Of all our Highlanders and have a lot of fun too.

    • Hi Jessica. Great photo. It is nice to see your boy. He is gorgeous. Stunning appearance. Thanks for uploading the photo. Highlanders are rare so pictures of them are rare too. Nice to see a new face on this page.

  • Hi, I am looking to adopt a Highlander. I saw them on Cats 101 with a family that had them. But can't seam to fine a listing for the family. They lived in N.C. I live in Florida. I am disabled and want one for myself. Can you help me locate a breeder on or near Fla?

    Thank you ever so much.

    Margaret.

    • Hi Margaret
      we do not have any breeders currently in Florida.
      But I and a few of our sister catteries Do ship to Florida if you would like to come in and talk to a few breeders ? This is a place where you can find a reputable breeder ( Highlander Cats Group On Facebook )This is a closed group so you must ask to come in. Hope to see you soon.
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/178956135533245/ In this room you will find 14 breeders of the Highlander cat.

    • Hi Margaret, I'll have a search right now and add to the comment so please come back!

      Update: Margaret, I have searched for 15 mins without success in finding a Higlander breeder in Florida. I would bet that there are no breeders of this cat in Florida. Sorry, I failed. You might ask a question on their Facebook page. Good luck Margaret.

      • Thank You....He is a real sweetheart that passes on so much of himself to his offspring. This is a photo of a couple of his offspring.

  • I am a foundation Highlander cattery,Wild at Heart Highlanders http://www.wildathearthighlanders.com I have been breeding since the breed first registered with TICA. We have carefully selected each and every Highlander foundation cat by a combination of the unique Highlander profile that immediately draws attention to the long-sloping forehead, intense wide set eyes are separated by a wide nose with substantial nose leather to give Highlander a look of its own. The nose, muzzle, and chin form a blunt look to give an overall boxiness in profile. The Highlander has also maintained the loose curl that affects the top 1/3rd of the ear. It is not a tight curl like the American Curl and we believe it came from a Canadian breed called the Hemingway Curl through the Highland Lynx. These incredible features all ties together to visualize the unique “big cat” look of the Highlander breed in a domestic cat.
    Highlander breeding programs continue to selectively breed to protect and enhance this distinctive look as well as to enhance the bloodlines to keep them genetically different and pure from other breeds.
    Although their look is one of power and fierceness, Highlanders are a fun-loving, good natured cat that constantly entertains its humans with zany antics and enjoys being the center of attention.
    What most people like about this breed is the substantial body structure. Watching a Highlander move is pure beauty as their long hind legs flex and the heavy, pronounced muscles ripple between their shoulder blades. A Highlander’s feet are large with prominent knuckles, built for the stamina for which they are known.

    • Thanks, Donna, for adding useful information to the page and sharing some photos. Very impressive cats. They are substantial and strong looking. I hadn't realised that.

  • The Origin of Highlander Breed:

    The Highlander breed first began development in 2004 with its roots tracing back to the Highland Lynx,. An east coast breeder developed the Highland Lynx in 1993 and although given the name that included “lynx”, these domestic cats were not of any lynx ancestry. These cats immediately attracted interest and a devoted following rapidly developed due to their unique looks, size, and playful, clown like personalities. Upon welcoming the Highland Lynx into our homes and families we immediately realized that these cats were special, both in personality and looks. Uniting together we worked together to set up our breeding programs and develop a standard that we all agreed to adhere to and began working to develop a cat with a “big cat look” in a purely domestic breed.

    In late 2005 we took the name Highlander to further identify our cats as a breed of their own merit. We worked diligently to educate the public; to bring about an awareness of how special these cats are, both in personality and looks; and mostly to earn respectability for this breed and eventual championship status as a member of the cat fancy in one of the largest cat registers in the world, TICA

    Our foundation cats were carefully hand picked for the qualities important to our development in producing the Highlander’s “big cat look“, with domestic short hair and domestic long hair being allowed as acceptable out crosses when needed. It is important to note that Highlanders have never used any other recognized breed as an outcross.

    We have carefully selected each and every Highlander foundation cat by a combination of the unique Highlander profile that immediately draws attention to the long-sloping forehead, intense wide set eyes are separated by a wide nose with substantial nose leather to give Highlander a look of its own. The nose, muzzle, and chin form a blunt look to give an overall boxiness in profile. The Highlander has also maintained the loose curl that affects the top 1/3rd of the ear. It is not a tight curl like the American Curl.

    The photo that you see is a photo of my Sheetah Wood She Has 16 best-of-breed awards so far. Please feel free to go to my website and look at the photos if you see any photos there that might Be better Please just let me know I would Am glad to help With any question you may have I have been breeding This breed for 12 years And I am a foundation cattery For the Highlander.

    Thank you for your time

    Sue

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