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 there's a cat out there for 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 shower with love.
Fortunately, there are many 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.
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Large Cat Breed Characteristics
First things first, we'll need to define what a large cat breed 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 larger domestic cat breed comes with specific challenges that owners of smaller cats may not be aware of.
The Challenges of Taking Care of a Large Cat
Like smaller cats, large cat breeds differ significantly in terms of needs and temperament. That being said. However, it makes sense that an enormous cat usually consumes more food for its species to grow and maintain a good weight.
This can pressure budget-conscious owners who may not know what they're getting into when they buy or adopt an initially tiny kitten. Some large cats can be prone to weight gain, so an adequate exercise regimen and a healthy diet must be maintained. The ones that pack heavy fur are also likely to shed quite a lot, requiring regular brushing lest your house be invaded by cat hair.
Additionally, large cats have more weight to throw around. This can make them difficult to hold for long periods. Children may also find it challenging to play with a cat that approaches their size. A large domestic cat's claws are size-appropriate and can inflict considerable damage if provoked. However, most large cat breeds are 'gentle giants,' so you'll rarely fall out of their graces as long as you treat them right.
The Largest Domestic Cat Breeds
Now that we've espoused some of the challenges of living with an enormous cat, it's time to take a closer look and see what the most common large breeds are and what makes each of them unique:
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 world's largest cat rank, 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 pretty imposing. Yet, despite their size, Maine Coon cats are quite people-focused and affable.
- They're great with children and have a surprisingly meek meow. But, as far as their caring regimen is concerned, regular combing and food designed to keep their joints strong are essential.
Average Weight: 8 – 20 pounds
- Often called the ultimate lap cat, Ragdolls owe 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 a kick from having such a friendly companion, as do adults who prefer their cats to be quieter.
- 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 purchase and reasonably prized for their exotic appearance.
- 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 the water. A Savannah cat needs plenty of exercises to stay slim and does best on a special diet 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, Norwegian Forest Cats 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 when combing can help prevent shedding, so be sure to shower your Norwegian Forest Cat with attention and provide ample opportunities to exercise their climbing skills.
5. Siberian Cat
Average Weight: 17 – 25 pounds
- Another cat that originated from a freezing 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.
- Also, Siberian cats are known for their rich purr, often talking in a playful chirp with their owners. Like the Norwegian Forest Cat, their coat is thick and layered, necessitating weekly brushing with a particular 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 blessed with short hair.
- They also boast an independent but playful character, one that's suitable for families with young children.
- British Shorthairs are pretty trainable, often used in commercials and movies, but their stature and tendency to become slightly overweight make them less athletic than other breeds.
- This has led many to consider the British Shorthair as being quite clumsy, although they can make great pets for someone who wants a big ball of love.
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 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 make them look more significant than their weight.
- Despite their origins, Chausie cats are pretty friendly and can often follow 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.
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.
- Ragamuffins can be taught to play fetch and walk on a leash if adequately trained.
- They take a little longer to mature than other breeds, but once a Ragamuffin reaches full adulthood, about four years in, it can weigh up to 20 pounds. As with all big cats, having a proper diet and regular exercise is essential 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 highly sociable and can get along with humans and fellow cats or dogs.
- Despite their cuddly nature, they can also be put on a leash and walk 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 "the glitter gene," a trait that gives their fur an iridescent glow reminiscent of frost.
- The Bengal's personality is confident and curious, and they enjoy chasing, climbing, and playing with their companions.
- Good workout routines and plenty of space are what they need to thrive and be happy.
Average Weight: 8 – 17 pounds
- Despite their name, Pixiebob cats are 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 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 loved by people who enjoy big balls of fur with stellar personalities.
- Persians are more selective than other cats regarding their company, but rest assured that once they find someone they like, they will immensely enjoy spending time with that person.
- Their face shape can cause various respiratory issues and eye conditions, though, so make sure you take your Persian pet to medical check-ups regularly.
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 easygoing, thus making them an excellent choice for a family pet.
- Careful brushing and maintenance are essential for the Selkirk Rex, as their fur can quickly become tangled if neglected, significantly 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 keeping them indoors 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 giant domestic cat breeds. Remember 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 details of the cat's past and forebears. Otherwise, you can be just as happy with a mixed-race pet with most of the characteristics of the breed you're searching for. However, no matter which option you choose, be sure to love your cat and treat it with the kindness and care it deserves.