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Home > Cats > Highlander Cat: Breed Info, Pictures, Temperament & Traits

Highlander Cat: Breed Info, Pictures, Temperament & Traits

a highlander cat lying on grass

If you’ve never heard of the Highlander cat breed before, you’re probably not alone. This breed came into existence less than 20 years ago when a Desert Lynx and a Jungle Curl were bred together. This relatively new breed used to be referred to as the Highlander Lynx, but the “Lynx” was later dropped, resulting in its name today, along with the recognition of them being a breed of their own.

Breed Overview


10–16 inches


10–20 pounds


10–15 years


Tabby, tortie, torbie, smoke, pointed, mink, and solid. Pure black, bronze, blue, and red

Suitable for:

Active families with kids and/or other pets


Friendly, playful, human-orientated, social, energetic, confident, inquisitive, easy to train, and affectionate

These cats are fun and loving, and although they have wildcat markings, they have a domestic personality—one that can easily win over any heart. These unique cats stand out from most other domestic cats with their unusually short tails that wag when they are excited like dogs. Their curled, big ears, muscular bodies, and large eyes add to the wonder of this curious breed.

If you’re both a cat and dog lover, this breed will tick both boxes with their dog-like personalities and temperaments. They’ve got a lot more to offer, along with a few facts that might spark your interest. If you’re contemplating whether this breed is for you, keep reading.

Highlander Cat Breed Characteristics

High-energy cat will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy cats require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a cat to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train cats are more willing and skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Cats that are harder to train are usually more stubborn and will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some cat breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every cat will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds' potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some cat breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other animals. More social cats have a tendency to rub up on strangers for scratches, while less social cats shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your cat and expose them to lots of different situations.



Highlander Kittens

Although purchasing a Highlander kitten from a licensed breeder is quite expensive, they’re definitely not at the top of the price range as you’re likely to pay around $1,000, with most purebred kittens falling in the price range of between $200–$2,000. If you’re fortunate enough to rescue one from your local shelter, you are likely to pay a maximum of $300 to adopt them, which is a much more affordable route, and you’ll be saving a life. Checking the shelter before reaching out to breeders is always the best option.

If you are not able to rescue a Highlander kitten, make sure you go through a reputable breeder that can offer you the correct, valid documentation for your kitten. These documents should be able to prove that the kitten you’re purchasing is a Highlander breed and comes from healthy litters.

Remember that the cost of a kitten doesn’t end with the purchasing of that kitten. You also need to factor in spaying or neutering, food, toys, treats, medical care, a cat bed, litter box, carrier, collar, and a cat tree, along with the other bits and pieces that have a way of popping up.


Temperament & Intelligence of the Highlander Cat

Are These Cats Good for Families? 👪

Highlander cats are excellent cats for families. They long to interact, play, and show off. If you’re single and looking for a companion, this is the type of cat that will become a true friend—always eager to see you and greet you at the door.

The Highlander is a dog-like cat breed that loves playing outside in the yard and chasing after toys. Although they’re powerful and very energetic, they’re gentle and patient with children. They’ll buddy up with your kids in no time and match their enthusiasm for playtime. Teach your children to be gentle and kind to the new addition to prevent either party from getting hurt.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

A Highlander kitten will have no problem fitting right into a household full of other pets. Their playfulness and social personalities love having other humans and pets around. Older cats may need a bit of time to adapt to their new environment and pet family but will warm up quickly. Regardless of the pets in the house, whether they’re other cats, dogs, rabbits, etc., your cat will get along with them well. However, smaller pets may catch the Highlander’s predatory eye as a quick snack, so keep them supervised or in separate areas.

As much as we may think we know our pets, they sometimes behave in ways we wouldn’t expect. Always introduce new additions to your pet family in a controlled environment, allowing them to see and smell each other from a distance first before bringing them closer together. Sometimes pets need to get used to each other before becoming best friends.

Highlander-7 (Image Credit: DigitalDirt, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)


Things to Know When Owning a Highlander:

Food & Diet Requirements

Although they may look like wildcats, this domestic breed doesn’t require anything different from a good high-quality diet specially formulated for cats. Make sure that the cat food you buy or prepare contains all the nutrients your energetic kitty needs and that it’s age-appropriate. Types of cat foods that are appropriate are dry, wet, frozen raw, freeze-dried raw, and semi-moist cat food. However, wet cat food can cause dental issues if you don’t brush their teeth adequately, so it’s a good idea to mix it with kibble.

Avoid over-feeding your cat as much as they may ask for it. Obese cats are unhealthy cats, and that’s exactly what you want to avoid. Keep treats to a reasonable amount, and make sure your fur baby always has plenty of clean water.

Exercise 🐈

Although most Highlander cats get plenty of exercise running around the house or yard, you’re going to grow your bond if you play with them. Playtime is fun, but it’s also vital to keep your cat happy and healthy. Daily exercise, along with a good diet, will prevent your cat from becoming overweight.

You can exercise your cat by using a laser and moving it around the room. Your cat will run after it, and all you need to do is move your arm around. A wand with feathers at the end of it will get your cat jumping, running, and moving around in circles. Once you’ve trained your cat to walk on a leash, you can take them outside and into nature for a daily dose of exercise for the both of you. If you’re out most of the day, a cat tower or tree is an excellent way to get them climbing and playing.

2017-Highlander-Cat-Sherlock (Image Credit: ChristinaHall, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)

Training 🧶

The Highlander is an incredible breed to train and can learn tricks with ease. You can start training them as soon as you welcome them into your home. Not only will training stimulate their minds mentally, but it’s also a form of exercise. A cat that is bored and unstimulated can become destructive, so it’s important to exercise their mind.

Highlanders can be trained to walk on a leash, play fetch, and sit, along with many other tricks. They also enjoy puzzle or brain games—another activity to keep them from boredom. As bouncy and excited as these cats are, never shout or smack them to get their attention or to punish them. Only use positive reinforcement as this is what they’ll respond to and build trust in you with. They are big food lovers and will respond well to treats, so incorporate that into your training for the best results.

Grooming ✂️

The Highlander doesn’t require much maintenance when it comes to grooming, thanks to their short coat. However, some Highlander cats have longer coats that would naturally require a bit more care. Highlanders with short coats can be brushed once a week, while ones with longer coats should be brushed every few days.

It’s a good idea to brush your Highlander’s teeth to reduce dental problems. This only needs to be done a few times a week, but you should start the routine when your kitten is still young to get them accustomed to it. If you start doing it when they’re already an adult, they’re going to resist it, and it’ll be more difficult and may result in a few scratches. Never use human toothpaste as it can be toxic to your cat. Instead, use toothpaste specifically formulated for cats.

As with all cats, your Highlander will need their nails trimmed. You can take them to a groomer about once a month for this to be done. We don’t recommend that you cut your cat’s nails unless you’ve been trained to do so, as you may injure them.

Their curled ears are prone to ear infections because the breed struggles to clean them properly. To avoid an ear infection, you should clean their ears frequently with a cotton ball and ear cleaning solution that is safe for cats.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Minor Conditions
  • Ear Infections
  • Constipation
  • Horner’s Syndrome
  • Hematuria
  • Urinary Tract Infections
Serious Conditions
  • None

The Highlander cat breed has only a few health problems to worry about. Of course, all cats and pets are at risk of certain minor health issues, but this hardy breed doesn’t have any known life-threatening conditions. Regardless, it’s important to take your cat to the veterinarian for regular checkups.

  • Ear Infections: Due to the curl in the cat’s ear, they struggle to clean their ears properly and can be at risk of ear infections. You can reduce the risk by cleaning their ears on a regular basis.
  • Constipation: Constipation can be uncomfortable, but it’s not a serious health problem. However, it may indicate that your cat is dehydrated and needs more water in their diet. It can also be the first indication of a more serious problem.
  • Horner’s SyndromeHorner’s syndrome is a neurological disorder that affects the cat’s facial muscles and eyes as the nerves don’t carry the signals the way they should. It can be caused by injury or an illness, such as an ear infection. If you notice a sunken eye or unusual movements with their eyelids, take them to the veterinarian immediately as it may indicate something more serious.
  • Hematuria: Hematuria is the presence of blood in your cat’s urine. Although the blood could indicate a urinary tract infection, it may be an alarm for something more dangerous. If you notice blood in your cat’s urine, your first response should be to get them to the veterinarian. 
  • Urinary Tract Infections: Urinary tract infections are as painful and uncomfortable in cats as they are for humans. However, they aren’t serious and can be treated with antibiotics. Unfortunately, recurrence is likely. 


Male vs Female

Although male and female Highlander cats are quite similar, they differ in weight and height. Males typically weigh around 15 to 20 pounds, while females tend to weigh around 12 to 15 pounds.

Male Highlanders tend to be a bit more affectionate and love all their humans equally, while females tend to pick a favorite and can be a bit more reserved.


3 Little-Known Facts About the Highlander Cat Breed

1. They Love Water

Domestic cats are known to hate water, but this isn’t the case for the Highlander, who is a breeze to bathe. This breed isn’t afraid of water and is, instead, quite fascinated by it. You’ll often find this breed sitting by running water, trying to catch it with their paws. You may even find them sitting in your filled bathtub if you’re not careful!

2. They Have Polydactyl Paws

Most cats from this breed have polydactyl paws, meaning that they have extra toes on one or more of their paws. It’s caused by a genetic mutation and is harmless to cats, and may even offer some extra benefits to their daily tasks such as being able to balance and climb better. Many people think polydactyl paws are so cute that they specifically look for kittens that have this variation.

3. They Begin Life With Straight Ears

The curled ears on Highlanders are one of the features people love most about this breed; however, they’re not born with it. Highlander kittens actually begin their life with straight ears, and it’s only once they’re born that their ears start to curl backward. How much curl a Highlander kitten will experience can’t be predicted as some have a lot of curl, while others only have a slight curl.

Highlander cat (2010) Hugo by TAnthony
Highlander cat (2010) Hugo by TAnthony (Image Credit: TAnthony, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)


Final Thoughts

The Highlander is an excellent cat breed to welcome into any loving environment as they’re good for families, singles, and multi-pet homes. These energetic cats are gorgeous with their curled ears, short tails, and big eyes. They’ve got a wildcat appearance with a soft heart that loves to socialize and interact with the people around them. They’re intelligent, easy to train, and a healthy breed overall.

Featured Image Credit: SUSAN LEGGETT, Shutterstock

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