Highlander cat sitting on an office chair

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You might be looking for a unique, large cat breed if you're a cat lover. Highlander cats, also known as Highland Lynx cats, are truly one of a kind. The Highlander cat has a wild, Lynx-like appearance, and they're relatively large compared to the average housecat. However, while this newer breed resembles the Highland Lynx, a big and powerful cat, it has a domestic cat's personality.

They can be incredibly loving and enjoy being the center of attention. However, before you search for this beautiful cat, you should know a few things. This article will discuss everything you need to know about the Highlander cat to help you determine whether they're the right pet for you.

History & Origin Of Highlander Cats

The Highland Lynx cat is a newer breed, originally developed in 1993 by Joe Childers, a cat breeder.1 He wanted to create a domestic cat that was powerful and beautiful like the Highland Lynx but had a loving personality like a domestic cat. Breeding the Desert Lynx and Jungle Curl, he created the Highland Lynx with curled ears and a short tail.2

In 2008, The International Cat Association (TICA) recognized the breed for competition in the Preliminary New Breed class.3 Meanwhile, breeders have continued to educate the public about the breed, and its name was later changed by TICA from the Highland Lynx cat to the Highlander cat so the breed's ancestry wouldn't put people off.

Physical Attributes

Like Bengal cats, Highlander cats closely resemble their ancestors, with short ears and a beautiful spotted coat available in various patterns like tabby, solid, mink, and tortoiseshell. However, unlike the Bengal, the Highland cat is considered a large breed. Female full-grown Highland Lynx cats weigh up to 20 pounds and grow up to 22 inches tall. Most cats of this breed are known for their curled ears and short tails, but some can be born with straight ears and a long tail. In addition, many Highlanders are polydactyl and have extra toes.

Highland cats can come with short or long hair with unique physical characteristics, including a straight forehead and wide nose that creates a blunt profile.4 Bred to be powerful, they have a muscular body with flexible and long hind legs, large feet, and prominent knuckles.3

Behavioral Characteristics

Highland cats are incredibly playful and energetic. They're people-oriented and considered friendly with children and other pets. This breed is also intelligent and can learn fun tricks, including walking on a leash, fetching, and sitting. However, because they're incredibly active, they might not be the best option for first-time pet parents. In addition, while Highland cats are gentle with children and other pets, they need a lot of exercise to prevent boredom and destructive behavior. And ultimately, early socialization between 6-9 weeks is important for any cat to be friendly with people.

Highland cats can easily fit into any household, whether there are kids or other pets, if they’ve been properly socialized as a kitten. They have a social personality and enjoy spending time with others. However, you should always be careful when introducing your cat to a new pet since you never know how it'll react. Still, these cats are affectionate, friendly, and playful, making them a great addition to any home.

Highlander Cat Care

Caring for a Highlander cat is no different from caring for another type of housecat. They'll require proper nutrition, daily exercise, and grooming. However, because these cats are so intelligent, you may also choose to train them, which can be a great way to provide them with enrichment throughout the day. These cats are generally best for experienced pet parents because they require physical activity. However, since they're affectionate and easy to train, these cats can be great pets for first-time cat parents as long as they're willing to do the work.

Diet & Nutrition

Cat nutrition varies depending on your cat's age, overall health, and weight. While Highland cats have a wild ancestry, they don't have any special food requirements. Instead, you can give them a high-quality diet to meet their nutritional needs. Since cats are carnivores, they should eat a diet primarily of meat, so if you're unsure what to feed them, talk to your vet about the best diet for a highly energetic cat.

Apart from feeding them a healthy diet, you should ensure your cat maintains a healthy weight to prevent diabetes. Since these cats are incredibly active, they may burn more daily calories than the average indoor cat. However, you should monitor their food intake and reduce portions if you notice weight gain. Again, talk to your vet if you're worried about your cat's health or weight. They can provide information like feeding guidelines and nutritional advice to ensure your cat gets enough nutrients without overeating.

In addition to eating a healthy diet, your Highlander cat should always have access to fresh, clean water, especially since they're a more active breed. The more your cat runs around and plays, the more water they'll need, so don't be surprised if you have to keep filling up their water bowls.

Exercise & Enrichment

All cats need regular exercise and enrichment to promote physical and mental health. Since these cats are highly active, ensure they have enough cat toys. In addition, you can find puzzles, treat dispensing toys, and cat scratching posts to ensure they get enough mental stimulation each day to prevent boredom, especially when you're not home.

In addition to physical exercise and toys, your Highlander cat can learn a few tricks. You can train them as soon as you bring them home to stimulate their minds and give them exercise while praising them for learning something new. Highlanders can be trained to walk on leashes, fetch, sit, and even shake hands. Of course, training your cat takes time, so always be patient with them. When training your Highlander, never scold or yell at them because it can cause anxiety or fearfulness. Instead, praise the good behavior with treats and ignore the bad behavior to ensure your cat can learn easily.


Cats naturally groom themselves, so taking care of your Highlander cat's beautiful coat is relatively simple. You can remove loose fur once a week for short-haired cats and up to three times a week for long-haired cats. In addition to regular bushing, you should bathe your cat regularly to remove dirt.

Since Highlander cats have folded ears, keeping them clean can be difficult. Discuss specialized care needs with your veterinarian for optimal ear health.

You should also brush your cat's teeth daily to prevent dental issues like periodontal disease. Ideally, you should brush their teeth daily to remove plaque before it turns into tartar.

Highlander cats will also need their nails trimmed regularly. Depending on your cat's temperament, you can ask the vet to do this for you or trim their nails at home. How often your cat needs their nails trimmed depends on how fast they grow, but most experts recommend trimming them every two to three weeks.


Are Highlander cats rare?

Highlander cats are considered rare because they're a purebred exotic breed. Additionally, while recognized by TICA, they're not recognized by other cat registries, so it can be difficult to find this breed. Luckily, many reputable breeders with kittens are available, and you can find them through TICA's website. That said, you can also meet a breeder by doing a quick search online. Unfortunately, you likely won't see any of these cats in shelters.

Do Highlander cats make good pets?

Highlander cats make great family pets because they're incredibly friendly and get along with other people and animals, including dogs. Of course, they require tons of attention and exercise because they're a high-energy breed. However, since they're so affectionate, you won't mind spending a few extra minutes a day playing with them.

Do Highlander cats shed?

Most highlander cats have short coats, so they don't excessively shed. However, Highlanders with longer coats will shed more frequently, and it'll be more apparent. All cats with fur shed, but you can reduce shedding on your furniture and clothing by ensuring they're properly groomed.

Highlander cat resting in a cat tree

Final Notes

The Highlander cat may resemble their larger, powerful ancestors, but they are fun-loving and make great family pets. They're affectionate, friendly, and love to play. Many people compare Highlander cats to dogs because they'll follow you around the house and learn tricks. In addition to their loving personalities, they have a beautiful appearance that makes them stand out from other house cats. However, even though they get along with other people and pets, your Highlander will need lots of attention and activity to prevent boredom.

Luckily, caring for a Highlander cat is like caring for any other type of pet; providing them with good nutrition and physical and mental exercise is crucial to their overall well-being. While Highlander cats are considered friendly, any cat can experience anxiety, especially when left alone. Luckily, Dutch telemedicine can help. Our vets can diagnose and treat separation anxiety to improve your Highlander cat's quality of life and reduce destructive behavior when you're away. Try Dutch today.


  1. “Highlander Facts - Wisdom Panel™ Cat Breeds.” Facts - Wisdom Panel™ Cat Breedshttps://www.wisdompanel.com/en-us/cat-breeds/highlander

  2. Jordan, Elisa, et al. "The Exotic and Charming Highlander." Catster, 7 Apr. 2020, https://www.catster.com/cat-breeds/highlander

  3. "Highlander Breed." The International Cat Association, https://tica.org/highlander-breeders?view=article&id=890%3a Highlander-breed &catid=79.

  4. "Highlander Breed Group Standard." TICA, 1 May 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20180619213837/http://www.tica.org/pdf/publications/standards/hg.pdf.

  5. "Highlander." International Cat Care, 5 Oct. 2019, https://icatcare.org/advice/highlander/

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