Highlander Cat: Handsome and Gentle; What More Could You Ask For?

Close-up of a Highlander Cat
Martha Harvey
Written by Martha Harvey

Choosing between cat breeds can be quite challenging and confusing. Each cat you come across seems to be cuter than the previous one. There are just so many varieties to choose from, and each has their own unique characteristics. In the end, it depends on what you want. Focus on their personality instead of their outward appearance. Do you want a cat that is quiet and has a super sweet personality? A cat that will be waiting at the door for you to come home every day without fail? Consider adopting a Highlander cat.

While we did say that you should focus on personality instead of outward appearance, in actuality you can have both. Highlanders have beautiful short/long silky fur. These felines resemble wild cats, but their personality and character are nowhere near ‘wild.’ They are charming, loving, and very affectionate. Buying or adopting a Highlander will provide you with endless entertainment, joy, laughter, and great companionship.


At this point, you might be thinking: “It’s nice and all that they have a wonderful personality and good looks, but the same can be said for many other cat breeds out there, such as the Australian Mist.” So why should you choose a Highlander cat? Reading this article will provide you with excellent insight on everything there is to know about this cat, and why they could be the one you’ve been looking for. All you need to do now is get your coffee, sit comfortably on your couch, and enjoy this read.

Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability: High

  • Grooming: Low maintenance, although long haired ones need regular grooming

  • Health: Very good

  • All Around Friendliness: Very friendly

  • Exercise Needs: High

Cat Breed GroupShort/Long-Haired, Crossbreed
SizeMedium to Large; an average height of 10-16 inches
Weight12 - 25 pounds; females are lighter
Lifespan10-15 years

The Highlander is an experimental cat breed whose development process began in 1993—although serious development didn’t take place until 2004. The motivation behind this breed’s development was to create a big cat with a unique appearance that would earn respect from cat fanciers and other groups.

Some of these cats come with short coats which are relatively easy to groom while others have long hair that needs more attention. No matter the length, their hair is silky and sheds minimally.

These cats are quite healthy; they do not possess any genetic health concerns. The only thing you should be worried about is the common feline diseases which can be handled by a qualified vet.

the-lovely-highlander-cat lying down and looking at the camera

Cat fanciers claim that Highlander cats have a dog-like personality. It means they are loyal, will follow you around the house in search of attention, and you can easily train them to walk on a leash, fetch items for you, and many more. They are quite social, loving, playful, and super intelligent. These cats love attention. They enjoy being cuddled, and they love to engage in family activities.

If you have a household with kids and other pets, i.e., dogs, you won’t have to worry about bringing in this cat. They get along well with other pets, kids, and even strangers. You also don’t have to worry about the feeds. Highlanders don’t need any specialized diet.

Unlike their wild cat companions, Highlanders are not climbers. Yes, they are energetic and all, but instead of going off to explore by themselves, they prefer to invest this energy in games and other fun activities with their owners.

Main Highlights

  • The Highlander cat breed was developed in 2004 but wasn’t recognized as an official breed until 2008.

  • They have broad heads with loosely-curved ears which often become the center of attention.

  • They feature medium to large body sizes. They are quite long (about 10-16 inches long).

  • Their body is masculine and full of energy. They also have a masculine and well-defined torso.

  • They come in a variety of colors, including cream, smoky, brown, black, ebony, and chocolate.

  • They have the same life expectancy as most other domestic cat breeds.

  • Although quiet and gentle, these cats are very social, friendly, intelligent, curious, and affectionate.

  • They are easy to train, and they easily adapt to any environment.

  • They are polydactyl; some cats can have up to 7 toes.

  • They are less noisy compared to other cat breeds.

  • Highlanders are healthy and low maintenance. They don’t need specialized diets. 2 meals per day and a good quality cat chow are perfect for these cuties.

Breed History

Unlike what their unique appearance may lead others to believe, the Highlander cat actually doesn’t have a rich history. The breed’s development was initiated in 1993 by Joe Childress, an East Coast breeder. However, it wasn’t until 2004 that serious development took place.

The Highlander is said to be an experimental crossbreed between the desert lynx and the jungle curl. These gave the Highlander the wild and unique look they are famous for today. You should note that the desert lynx and the jungle curl are hybrid breeds. As such, the Highlander does not possess any wildcat genes. Their genes are strictly from the domestic genetic pool.

Image of an highlander-cat lying down

In the breed’s initial stages of development, the Highlander was known as the Highland Lynx. Nonetheless, it was then said that this cat didn’t have any actual wild lynx ancestry. And so, in 2005, it was renamed the Highlander. It was also around the same time that breeders started becoming more focused on defining this breed and their characteristics. In 2008, TICA (The International Cat Association) allowed Highlander cats to compete in the registry’s preliminary new breed class.


For a domestic cat, the Highlander is rather immense. The cat features a relatively large torso. The buttocks are noticeably big and muscular—which is synonymous with wild cats.You will also notice that this cat has a broad head with long legs.

A Highlander Cat in the nature

They are a big and heavy breed. Females weigh about 10 to 14 pounds and the males around 15 to 20 pounds. Their tails are also noticeably short and thick. They feature kinks and curls in them. One unique characteristic to note is that similar to dogs, this cat will wag their tail in sheer joy or excitement or sometimes to signal playfulness.

Personality and Character

As a breed that looks so similar to the lynx, one would expect the wildness to also be reflected in the cat’s character and personality. But no, not this breed. The Highlander is surprisingly gentle and quiet in nature. You won’t hear them meow unnecessarily.

Some fanciers say that the Highlander has a personality that is similar to dogs. Perhaps it is the reason why training them is so easy. You can even train this cat to walk on a leash. You can also train them to fetch the remote for you among other things. You can teach your Highlander to sit and stay when you order them to.

Although quiet, these cats are quite active. They are very playful and will want to engage you in chase games and other fun activities. The good thing is that you won’t find them climbing and scratching your curtains or stuff like that since they are pretty well-behaved.

Close-up image of a Highlander cat

Their love and affection are just out of this world. The Highlander is a cat that you will find waiting for you at the door and one that will always happily welcome visitors. They enjoy warm cuddles and also appreciate regular petting. These cats are also super intelligent and curious. They always want to be involved in whatever you’re doing. Due to this trait, you might want to keep fragile things in places that are out of their reach.

Being active, energetic, and a cat that loves attention, it is not wise to leave your Highlander alone for long hours. But if you must, you have to ensure that you give them enough playthings and toys to keep them busy. Another unique trait worth mentioning is that the Highlanders are fascinated by water. They don’t mind getting wet at all. So games that involve playing with water might charm them.

Health and Potential Problems

Highlander cats have very minimal health concerns. These cats are quite healthy, and unlike most other domestic cat breeds, Highlanders don’t possess any genetic predispositions. Nonetheless, like any other breed, these cats are susceptible to common feline diseases and medical conditions like allergies, obesity, hemophilia B, etc. The good thing, however, is that any qualified vet can handle these.

Two Highlander Cats playing together

So don’t get alarmed if your cat develops any of these conditions. As long as you take your cat to the vet for regular checkups to ensure that they stay in top shape, they will be able to live to a ripe, old age. Keep up with their vaccinations and be observant of any changes in their behavior so you can catch underlying conditions early.

Care Features

The Highlander cat, as earlier mentioned, is active, energetic and very playful. This is the kind of animal that doesn’t take well to sitting around all day doing nothing. You need to get them plenty of toys to keep them engaged when you are busy or not around.

Also, due to their energetic and powerful nature, Highlanders need regular exercise. This does have to be anything unique or particular—a simple cat exercise wheel would be enough. Just ensure that they get adequate time and space to play each day.

Highlander Cat lying on a cat tree

With regards to grooming, the cat is low maintenance. Although some of them have long hair, their fur is silky and thus easy to groom. Take note that these cats need to adapt to grooming. You should start brushing their hair when they are still young, so they won’t have a problem with being brushed when they are older.

Highlander cats do not need any special treatment. They should be given the same care as you would give to any other cats even with their dog-like personality. This is why this breed is highly recommended for first-time cat owners and households with children.

Feeding Schedule

Highlanders don’t require any special dietary attention. A highly nutritious diet with adequate fiber will do for these adorable felines. Take note that because they are rather big, Highlanders should be fed twice a day to keep them healthy, strong, and energetic.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

If you are interested in this cat, you have a variety of colors to choose from. You can pick one with a smoky coat, or chocolate, brown, black, creamy, or ebony. Some have coats with marbled markings.

Two Highlander Cats lying on the floor

The Highlander can be short-haired or long-haired. Regardless of what length the hair is, it is always soft and silky, and it undergoes very minimal shedding. For these reasons, grooming the Highlander is pretty easy. You only need to brush them weekly to keep them neat and beautiful. Also, as you would do with any other cat, you should always check the ears, eyes, and skin for infections when grooming.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

Highlanders are social felines. They have an overall friendly nature. Therefore, if you have kids or a household full of other pets, a Highlander would be an excellent addition to your family. This cat is loving, affectionate, and very good with kids and other pets including dogs. Just make sure to introduce them to your dog slowly and carefully. Keep your dog on a leash since there’s no telling how they would react.

Wrap Up

It is undoubtedly true that the Highlander cat is adorably big and beautiful. This cat does not just have a warm personality, but they are also a great entertainer. The Highlander is one cat that you and your family won’t ever regret bringing home.

A Highlander Cat lying on the couch

Does the Highlander—with their big body and their big heart—seem like the right choice for you? Or are you looking for a cat that’s more independent and can be left alone for long stretches of time because you often travel for business? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below! If you’re already living with a Highlander cat, we’d like to hear all about your experience too.

About the author
Martha Harvey
Martha Harvey

Martha Harvey is a skilled veterinarian and a member of American Veterinary Medical Association from Greeley, Colorado. She has 20 years experience of working in Animal Hospital. Martha loves all of her patients, but her favorite one is the Russian Blue cat Stitch, who lives with her.