When it comes to cat breeds, each one has its supporters. Some live for the elegance of a Siamese cat, while others swear by the petite charm of a Munchkin. Even the hairless Sphynx cat has plenty of supporters, so it goes without saying that there’s a cat out there for pretty much everyone.
But what if your heart is set on having a larger feline companion? Short of adopting an actual tiger or leopard (which is possible, but hard to do and not advisable for most people), your best bet lies in getting a large domestic cat breed that you can then shower with love. Fortunately, there are lots of options available in this regard, and in this article we’ll go over them one by one, while also making a few mentions regarding the care of such larger breeds.
Large Cat Breed Characteristics
First things first, we’ll need to define what a large cat breed actually is. While exact definitions can vary, most experts agree that any cat breed whose average weight at maturity typically peaks between 10 and 20 pounds qualifies as a big cat. Weight isn’t the only factor though. Large domestic cat breeds are also taller than other cats, and often have longer bodies with lush coats, although several shorthair varieties can also be included in this category. Right now, the current holder of the ‘world’s longest domestic cat’ belongs to a Maine Coon named Barivel, who measures an astounding 3ft 11in (120 cm) in length.
It’s worth mentioning that some of these cat breeds are centuries-old, while others have been bred in more recent times. All of them can be a great addition to your life, however, as long as you understand that caring for a big domestic cat breed comes with certain challenges that owners of smaller cats may not be aware of.
The Challenges of Taking Care of a Large Cat
Just like smaller cats, large cat breeds differ significantly in terms of needs and temperament. That being said, however, it makes sense that a larger cat will usually need to consume more food in order to grow and maintain an acceptable weight for its breed. This can put pressure on budget-conscious owners who may not know what they’re getting themselves into when they buy or adopt an initially tiny kitten. Some large cats can be prone to weight gain, so maintaining an adequate exercise regimen and a healthy diet are a must. The ones that pack heavy fur are also likely to shed quite a lot, thereby requiring regular brushing lest your house be invaded by cat hair.
Additionally, large cats simply have more weight to throw around. This can make them difficult to hold for long periods of time. Children may also find it challenging to play with a cat that approaches their size, and it goes without saying that a large domestic cat’s claws are size-appropriate and can inflict considerable damage if provoked. That said, most large cat breeds are ‘gentle giants’, so you’ll rarely fall out of their graces as long as you treat them right.
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The Largest Domestic Cat Breeds
Now that we’ve espoused some of the challenges of living with a bigger cat, it’s time to take a closer look and see what the most common large breeds are and what makes each of them special:
1. Maine Coon
Average Weight: 6 – 16 pounds
- On average, the Maine Coon is the biggest non-hybrid domestic cat breed, with several specimens attaining the rank of world’s largest cat according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
- They boast impressive physical statures, which, coupled with their lush coats and trademark tufts help make Maine Coons appear quite imposing. Despite their size, Maine Coon cats are quite people-focused and affable.
- They’re great with children and have a surprisingly meek meow. As far as their caring regimen is concerned, regular combing and food designed to keep their joints strong is essential.
- Maine Coons also have a tendency to swallow without properly chewing their food, so serving it in kibble-sized portions is definitely a good idea.
Average Weight: 8 – 20 pounds
- Often called the ultimate lap cat, Ragdolls owe to their name to one distinctive feature – their tendency to go limp when picked up.
- This makes them fun companions for those who love a laid back, relaxed pet.
- Children can also get quite a kick from having such a friendly companion, as do adults who prefer their cats to be on the quieter side.
- A ragdoll’s weight upon reaching maturity typically fluctuates between 8 and 20 pounds, and they boast a plush coat that requires twice-weekly combing to prevent shedding.
Average Weight: 8 – 20 pounds
- While not strictly a domestic cat breed, Savannahs are available for purchasing and quite prized for their exotic appearance.
- Appearing as a result of a cross between domestic cat breeds and the African serval, a large wild cat, these beauties pack all the punch of that breed while coming in at a comparatively smaller size.
- They are more slender and statuesque than your average domestic cat, and are the rare breed that tends to enjoy being in water. A Savannah cat needs plenty of exercise in order to stay slim and does best on a special diet that’s heavy on raw meat.
4. Norwegian Forest Cat
Average Weight: 12 – 16 pounds
- Cats don’t come much fluffier than the Norwegian Forest Cat.
- Evolving to be suitable for harsh winter environments, these creatures feature an incredibly lush coat that also contains a woolly undercoat for insulation.
- They even change coats, switching to a slightly shorter version once the weather starts warming up.
- That is also the time when combing can really help prevent shedding, so be sure to shower your Norwegian Forest Cat with attention and provide them with ample opportunities to exercise their climbing skills.
5. Siberian Cat
Average Weight: 17 – 25 pounds
- Another cat that originated from a very cold place, the Siberian is known for its sturdy build, especially in its hindquarters.
- This makes specimens from this breed excellent jumpers, thus rendering them great play partners for those who prefer a more active pet.
- Additionally, Siberian cats are known for their rich purr, and they often talk in a playful chirp with their owners. Similar to the Norwegian Forest Cat, their coat is thick and layered, necessitating weekly brushing with special focus on the armpits to prevent tangles.
6. British Shorthair
Average Weight: 9 – 18 pounds
- Sometimes called “British Blue”, these puffy little creatures are the rare large variety that is blessed with short hair.
- They also boast an independent but playful character, one that’s suitable for families with young children.
- British Shorthairs are quite trainable, often being used in commercials and movies, but their stature and tendency to become slightly overweight makes them less athletic than other breeds.
- This has led many to consider the British Shorthair as being quite clumsy, although for someone who simply wants a big ball of love they can make great pets.
7. Turkish Van
Average Weight: 7 – 20 pounds
- Standing out due to their distinctive white bodies and marked ears and tail, Turkish Vans are curious creatures with a considerable jumping ability.
- This is one reason why they can often be found inhabiting the top shelf in any given structure, preferring to oversee the situation from high up above.
- This cat breed is also notable for its friendliness to water, as Turkish Vans are even branded “swimming cats” in their native country.
- Still, they are friendly and calm, with many of them forming strong bonds with their human owners.
Average Weight: 15 – 20 pounds
- Another example of a hybrid between domesticated and wild cat breeds, the Chausie owes some of its traits to the jungle cat.
- The breed’s specimens have long, athletic bodies that grant them exceptional running and jumping abilities, and also make them look bigger than their weight.
- Despite their origins, however, Chausie cats are quite friendly, and can often be seen following their owner around like a dog.
- They also require more mental and physical stimulation than your average cat breed, and should not be left alone for long periods of time.
Average Weight: 11 – 17 pounds
- With big, expressive eyes and a lush fur coat, Ragamuffins have something of a teddy bear-quality to them.
- They are treasured for their calm and easygoing manner, rarely if ever hissing or clawing the people closest to them.
- Additionally, Ragamuffins can be taught to play fetch and will even walk on a leash if properly trained.
- They take a little longer to mature than other breeds, but once a Ragamuffin reaches full adulthood about 4 years in it can weigh up to 20 pounds. As with all big cats, having a proper diet and exercising regularly is important for maintaining good health.
10. American Bobtail
Average Weight: 7 – 15 pounds
- Looking a bit like a Bobcat in a more condensed form, the American Bobtail is known for its penchant for goofiness and ability to make people smile.
- They’re extremely sociable and can get along with both humans and fellow cats or dogs.
- Despite their cuddly nature, they can also be put on a leash and go on walks with their trainers.
- Their dense fur requires light brushing and an occasional wash to stay fresh, regardless of whether you go for the shorthair variety or the medium long-hair one.
Average Weight: 6 – 18 pounds
- Obtained by breeding an Asian leopard cat with an Egyptian Mau, the Bengal typically features spots and rosettes just like a jungle cat.
- Some specimens also have what is called “the glitter gene”, a special trait that gives their fur an iridescent glow reminiscent of frost.
- The Bengal’s personality is a confident and curious one, and they enjoy chasing, climbing and playing with their companions.
- Good workout routines and plenty of space is what they need to thrive and be happy.
Average Weight: 8 – 17 pounds
- Despite their name, Pixiebob cats are actually on the larger end of the spectrum, with fully grown specimens often reaching 15 pounds or more.
- Personality-wise, Pixiebobs are likened to dogs, being able to learn tricks, play fetch and accept having a leash on.
- A fun fact about this breed: Pixiebob cats have a higher than average incidence of Polydactyly, meaning that they can sometimes grow up to seven toes in a single paw.
Average Weight: 9 – 14 pounds
- Easily recognizable thanks to their distinct flat faces, Persian cats are widely beloved by people who enjoy big balls of fur with a stellar personality.
- Persians are more selective than other cats when it comes to their company, but rest assured that once they find someone they like they will greatly enjoy spending time with that person.
- Their face shape can cause a variety of respiratory issues and eye conditions, though, so make sure you take your Persian pet to medical check-ups on a regular basis.
14. Selkirk Rex
Average Weight: 6 – 16 pounds
- Even amongst the sheer variety of modern cat breeds, the Selkirk Rex still stands out due to its naturally-curly coat.
- Not all specimens are equally as frizzy-haired, and some lose their curls and only regain them after a certain age, but all of them are friendly and easy-going, thus making them a great choice for a family pet.
- Careful brushing and maintenance are important for the Selkirk Rex, as their fur can easily become tangled if neglected, especially as their curls amplify with age.
15. Egyptian Mau
Average Weight: 8 – 12 pounds
- Widely beloved by ancient Egyptians, these creatures regularly bless their artwork with their mascara-like markings and bright green eyes.
- The Egyptian Mau is above all else an elegant pet, albeit one with a marked aversion to loud noises.
- Their short coats are low maintenance, but the breed’s sensitivity to cold means that keeping them indoors at all times is a must.
- They’re also meticulously clean, and will avoid a dirty litter box if it isn’t up to their standards.
That concludes our general overview of the largest domestic cat breeds. Keep in mind that if you want to buy or adopt a purebred version of these cats, you’ll need to visit a registered supplier who can provide you with details of the cat’s past and forebears. Otherwise, you can be just as happy with a mixed race pet, one that has most of the characteristics of the breed you’re searching for. No matter which option you go for, however, be sure to love your cat and treat it with the kindness and caring it deserves.