Meet the Highlander clown of cat world


Distinctive features that make the Highlander stand out include the breed’s slightly curled back ears and naturally short tail. Let’s find out more on this feline clown.

Patti Struck

The root of Highlanders is a bit of a mystery as they are not descended from any known or recognised cat breed. Although they have been in existence since 1993, the name Highlander was adopted in 2004 to identify them as a unique breed, and they were accepted for registration in 2006 by The International Cat Association (TICA). In 2008, the breed was moved to Preliminary New Breed Class and finally accepted as an Advanced New Breed in January 2015. Now, the breed will continue to work through the advancement process that will eventually lead to the TICA Championship Status.

Unique traits Highlanders are unique and exciting with some unusual characteristics that set this breed apart from others. Their ears stand as much on top of the head as on the side and may sport ear tufts and ear furnishings. Of course, their naturally short tail is yet another unusual characteristic. This tail can range anywhere from one inch to hock length (although some Highlanders are born with standard length tails as well). It often has kinks and curls in it, making each tail unique.

United colours Except bi-colour (any colour combined with white, such as Tuxedo cats), Highlanders come in almost any colour and pattern. They can have long or short hair, and their coats tend to be thick and resilient, so even the long-haired Highlanders usually don’t require much grooming.

Extra toes! Because of their history and the cat breeds who have been used to create the Highlanders some of them do have extra toes, however this is not a feature that is permissible in the breed. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a polydactyl kitten, and there are other cat breeds that allow polydactyl, however since it is not part of the Highlander Standard these kittens are considered ‘non-standard’ so cannot be shown at TICA shows.

Grooming needs Stiff cartilage of their curled ears makes easier for wax and debris to build up inside the ears, which can create an ideal medium for ear mites, yeast, or other infections to grow. Highlanders therefore usually require regular ear cleaning once a week or so to avoid this. There are many ear cleaning products that can be found at the pet stores and as long as it is done routinely, it is fairly easy to keep the ears free of debris.

Indeed a large breed Highlander is usually considered a large cat, however as with any other breed, there can be variations in size. Much of this depends on the other cats who have been used to help develop the breed. Also, males in general are larger than females.

Amazing move Watching a Highlander move is amazing to watch with a stride that is reminiscent of a well muscled, exotic cat. The feet are large with prominent knuckles, built for the stamina for which they are known. However, as incredible as their looks are, a Highlander is a playful, happy-go-lucky cat who likes nothing better than to have an audience and all eyes on her as she thinks of new zany antics with which to entertain pet parents or other humans. The Highlander has a fun loving, playful, and laid back personality, and is often described as having a clown-like nature. This makes the cat the perfect cat for any household. Highlander is a robust cat with a solid muscular body, short tail, and curled ears—truly unique in the cat fancy! Highlanders can be found throughout the US and globally.

(Patti Struck has been breeding Savannahs for the past 12 years and Highlanders over the last five years. In addition, she is also a member of TICA Rules Committee, TICA Mentors Program and Savannah Committee.)