The Highlander is the result of selective breeding carried out in 2004 in the United States. It has been described as the hybrid of hybrids, and rightly so since it was developed by crossing two hybrid cats, namely the Jungle Curl and the Desert Lynx. The breed's name was initially called Highland Lynx before it was changed to Highlander in 2005 by The International Cat Association (TICA).
Its peculiar ears are inherited from the Jungle Cat, which itself is a cross between the Canadian Hemingway Curl/American Curl and the African Jungle Cat. Besides the Jungle Curl, the Desert Lynx, which is a cross between a Pixie Bob/Manx and a pure Bobcat, has also contributed to the stocky and thickset physique of the Highlander.
The development of the Highlander continues to see refinement up until the late 90s. It has been out-crossed to the Abyssinians, Bengals, other Jungle cat hybrids and Serengeti cats. It was finally accepted in the TICA's Preliminary New Breed Class in May 2008.
Physical appearance and attributes
This is a medium to large sized cat that weighs an average of 14 pounds. The body is of a rectangular form with good musculature and medium boning. The legs of the Highlander are strong and well-proportionate. The hind legs appear slightly longer than the forelegs and they extend into large paws with prominent knuckles. Some Highlander may by polydactyl, i.e., having more toes than the typical cats. This breed possesses a naturally short and thick tail. The minimum length should be at 2 inches, and it can be perfectly straight or kinked.
Highlander has a head that appears longer than it is wide due to the muzzle length. Its large whisker pads rest on a firm, strong chin. One of its most distinctive features is its pair of ears that carries a loose, relaxed backward curl from the tip of the ears. The ear tips should still be visible from a frontal view. They should also appear tall and open due to having a more vertical crimp. It has medium to large oval eyes that present a slight slant and are separated by a wide and substantial nose. Viewed in profile, the long-sloping forehead becomes apparent. Also the nose, muzzle and chin create a blunt look that gives the Highlander a boxy muzzle in profile.
Highlander can come in either longhaired or shorthaired version. The look of the longhaired version has been described to resemble a little cougar while the shorthaired version a little lynx.
Colors donning the coat are usually black chocolate, black cream, black silver, Carmel Ebony and Red and their patterns include the classic, mackerel tabby, spotted tabby and tawny torbie.
Personality and temperament
Despite the big wild cat look, the Highlander is actually a gentle giant. It is big in its affections and is highly fun-loving, playful and inquisitive. This is evident through all its crazy antics and its love for attention. Being highly energetic and agile has helped build a powerful and muscular body that is characteristic of this breed. Highlander has been described to possess a dog-like disposition due in part to the level of training it can take. This is no doubt also an attribute of its high intelligence. Though active, this cat is not vocal and can be considered as more of a coo-and-trill communicator. Its gentleness and patience make it a safe pet to have around children as well as a good companion to other household pets.
Care and health issues
Genetically, the Highlander is a healthy breed with no known health problem. A healthy Highlander can expect to live between 10 – 15 years. It is important to obtain a written health guarantee from qualified breeders when purchasing the cat. This will ensure that the cat has been bred responsibly and that it is not contracted with other common feline diseases.
Grooming the Highlander is fairly easy; a weekly brushing will suffice to help remove dead hair and distribute skin oil. Longhaired Highlander would however need more frequent brushing. It is advisable to accustom this active breed to routine grooming at a young age. Other grooming practices should include frequent teeth brushing with vet approved toothpaste. The nails should also be trimmed whenever necessary. Also, check the curled ears for indications of infection and clean them with a damp cotton or cloth if needed.
The ideal home
The Highlander can adapt to indoor living. With its high level of energy and playfulness, it is necessary to create an adventure zone to prevent boredom. Equip the space with cat toys, cat trees and cat gym sets. While an outdoor space will be ideal for it to explore and to introduce more adventures, the area must be safe and escape-proof. The Highlander can get along well with children and other family pets, making it suitable for most types of household. Given the right care and affections, the Highlander will add must amusement, joy and affections to the family. This is surely a treasure to have for families who are looking for an active, mischievous and social companion.
Photo from Deposit Photos