Welcome to our fun guide to large cat breeds.
Giving you information on the biggest domestic cats and some things to consider when owning big house cats.
Having a lion or a tiger as a pet might be considered impossible, but owning a large domestic cat breed is both an enjoyable and fun alternative!
Combined with the docile temperament of a regular house feline.
Large cat breeds are physically bigger and heavier in size than smaller cats and should not be confused with being overweight or obese.
So let’s take a look at five large domestic cat breeds and their individual features.
Maine Coon Cats
The Maine Coon is one of the most popular big domestic cats.
This long-haired, massive cat originated from the State of Maine in the USA and was often seen on ships as well as on farms as a mouser.
It is one of the world’s largest domestic cat breeds, being both long and tall, and weighing up to 25 pounds in adorable fluff!
Due to their bushy tails and brown coats, many thought that the Maine Coon was the result of cats mating with racoons, but this theory is impossible.
It is more likely that these large cats were brought to the US by European sailors or Vikings in the 1700s.
During that time, 40% of Maine Coons were polydactyly (extra toes) and were considered a source of good luck by sailors.
The trait stemmed from a genetic mutation and acted well as snowshoes during the harsh snowy winters in Maine.
This feature was frowned upon and eventually bred out of the breed, but is slowly being reinstated and is very popular with some cat fanciers.
The Maine Coon is a smart and active cat, requiring lots of stimulation and exercise. They are proficient swimmers and enjoy being in the water. Many can even be taught to walk on a leash and fetch toys.
Maine Coons have gentle, loving personalities with a kind nature. They are excellent with children and get on well with other animals, making them the perfect family pet.
The strikingly beautiful Burmese cat is much heavier than it looks, and often described as a “brick wrapped in silk.”
These short-haired, friendly cats love their owners, possessing many similar qualities to a dog.
They are quite clingy pets and do not like to be left alone, but their vibrant energy and playfulness will keep you entertained.
They often rumble like a wild cat when they want your attention and can be very chatty!
The unique Burmese breed started with a little cat called Wong Mau. She was imported in 1930 from Burma to California and crossed with a Siamese cat, before being mated with her son.
Due to the constant inbreeding, nearly every Burmese in the world today is traced back to Wong Mau.
Sadly, a study carried out in 2007 showed that the Burmese cat has the lowest genetic diversity of any breed and risks extinction unless breeders act.
The Egyptian Mau, with its exotic good looks, is one of the few domestic cats with a natural and distinctive spotted coat pattern.
How smart are cats?
Possibly the descendent of a small African wild cat, it is believed the Mau originated from Egypt.
Research carried out by Dr Leslie Lyons supports this theory, along with archaeological evidence, which would make the Egyptian Mau one of oldest cat breeds in the world.
The Mau is considered a thoroughbred amongst felines, clocking up a running speed of 30 mph, along with possessing the quickest reflexes and the ability to jump six feet in the air from a standstill.
This enchanting breed has the gait of a cheetah, long hind-legs and a rare flap of skin running from the flank to the back of the knee. Allowing him the freedom to run, jump and twist.
He loves to climb and perch up high and is incredibly smart, learning quickly to do tricks.
They have a gentle nature and are very loyal to their owners, but can be shy with strangers and are not too keen on other pets.
The Mau has a musical type voice, chortling and chirping like a bird, and wiggles its tail when it is happy!
In April 1986, the Savannah breed developed after the unplanned mating between a serval (medium African wild cat) and a domestic cat.
The outcome was a beautiful, medium sized, spotted kitten, who was named “Savannah” after the African grasslands, along with this new breed of big domestic cat.
Patrick Kelly and Joyce Stroufe then worked together to create and improve the Savannah by crossing African Servals with domestic felines, before mating the offspring to big cat breeds such as the Egyptian Mau.
The Savannah has long legs and a long body and since 2006, has held the Guinness Book of Records for the world’s tallest domestic cat.
These large cats are energetic, alert and adventurous and interact well with people, but don’t like being fussed and cuddled.
They are not suitable for first-time cat owners as they demand constant attention. The Savannah needs to be occupied, becoming bored and disruptive otherwise.
He has even been known to open doors, knock things over and chew anything in his path!
They have a great sense of humour (with the joke normally on you!) and possess a dog-like personality, following their owners all over the house.
Because of their wild ancestors, Savannahs have strong hunting instincts, so it is not good to keep small pets, such as hamsters, in your home.
The Savannahs popularity has increased over the last few years but can be very expensive, with some costing up to $20,000!
Because they are a hybrid, some states, such as Hawaii, Georgia and Nebraska, have banned the Savannah, with restrictions in others. It is vital that you check the law for your area before buying one of these amazing cats.
With their unique, spotted coat and large, muscular physique, the Bengal combines the look of a wild jungle cat with the personality of a domestic feline.
The breed, accidentally created by cat breeder Jean Sugden when she crossed her pet female Asian Leopard cat (in the 1950s and 60s you could buy them in pet stores) with a domestic male cat by mistake.
The breed was developed and used for research by Dr Willard Centerwall in the 1970s.
The Asian leopard cat is immune to feline leukaemia, so Dr Centerwall used the Bengal to discover if the immunity gene could perhaps be reproduced in the hybrid offspring, but proved not to be the case.
These large cats are very talkative, highly intelligent and extremely active. Like the Savannah, they require lots of attention and interaction but are not for everyone.
They love climbing as high as possible and are also happy splashing around in water and playing fetch. Most Bengals get along with other pets and love people, being very loving and loyal, so are ideal for families.
Who is the biggest domestic cat in the world?
Let’s take a look at the largest domestic cats ever and find out who was the world’s largest domestic cat.
The Guinness Book of Records defines this title in two ways – the longest cat and the tallest cat.
The longest cat measures from nose to tail, and the tallest cat measures from the top of the shoulder to the paw.
World’s longest domestic cat
Stewie, a grey tabby Maine Coon, holds the title of world’s longest cat, measuring 48.5 inches long.
Sadly, huge cat Stewie passed away in 2013 from cancer at just eight years old.
World’s tallest domestic cat
A Savannah cat called Trouble holds the title of world’s tallest cat, measuring 19 inches from the shoulder to paw.
Trouble also passed away, aged just four, in 2011.
Should I Buy A Large Cat Breed?
If you are looking for a new feline addition to your family, then you might be considering a few different large house cats.
But is the biggest cat breed the best cat breed for you?
Although size has its appeal, the most important factor in your new pet is probably going to be their personality.
Domestic cat temperament can vary quite a lot between breeds, so once you find a large cat you like, make sure to get to know his breed’s traits.
Or you might like to consider adopting an older rescue cat instead. You won’t get the cute kitten stage, but you will have a good idea of their personality – and just how big your large cat is going to grow.
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Resources & Further Reading
- Lyons, LA. PhD. 2016 Genetic Notes on the Burmese Cat Breed. College of Veterinary Medicine. University of Missouri.
- Lyons, LA. PhD. Cat Domestication & Breed Development. College of Veterinary Medicine. University of Missouri.
- Menotti-Raymond, M et al. 2008. Patterns of molecular genetic variation among cat breeds. Geomics.