The striking look of the Highlander with its long sloping profile and loosely curled ears draws attention to this substantial cat. But it is the fun-loving nature that steals hearts as it entertains you with its crazy antics. This is a cat that loves to be the center of attention and its big cat look also helps keep it front and center. Reflecting their domestic heritage, the Highlander comes in both short and long hair.
Development of the breed began in 2004 and an early name for it was the Highland Lynx. No lynx genes were present in the cats used to develop the breed, rather the name referred to the intent of creating a domestic cat with a powerful "big cat" look. In 2005, the name Highlander was settled on and breeders focused on defining the breed and its characteristics as they worked toward championship status in TICA-one of the largest registries in the world. The cats used to develop the breed were carefully chosen from the domestic gene pool and not from any existing recognized breed. The ears are a key feature of the Highlander. The loose curl is the result of a single dominant gene for relaxed curl. This is not the same gene as that of the American Curl-the relaxed gene is thought to come from breeders in Canada who were working on a breed called the Hemingway Curl. TICA recognized the Highlander for competition in the Preliminary New Breed class starting May 1st, 2008.
Despite their "big cat" look, the Highlanders are the clowns of the cat fancy and love to play and chase. They love human company and will be there to greet you at the door or will show off to visitors. Vocally they are relatively quiet cats but physically they are high energy cats. This energy comes out in entertaining chase games and it is this energetic activity that helps build the powerful musculature that is so characteristic of this breed.
The Highlander has a long, sloping forehead and large, flattened oval wide-set eyes that look at you with great intensity. The nose is wide and the large nose leather gives a look to the cat like no other. Together, the nose, muzzle and chin provide a boxy look to the muzzle. The chin itself is deep and strong. These features make the head appear longer than it is wide. The ears are unique: the top 1/3 has a loose curl. They are set as much on the top of the head as on the side and stand tall and open with good width at the base.
The powerful, muscular body is substantial and entrances you with the beauty of its movement. Flexible long hind legs combine with the rippling muscles developed in the torso from its active play. The feet are large and have prominent knuckles. These are big powerful cats and their average weight is about 14 pounds of solid muscle. And then there is the tail-naturally short, it ranges in length from 2 inches to hock length. It is thick and articulated and ideally straight although sometimes slight twists and kinks may be felt. It also has a fat pad at the end. This is an incredibly expressive element of the breed and will wag like a dog from sheer joy and signal its happiness and playfulness.