Large Cat Breeds: Bring a Tiny Tiger into Your Home

very large cat
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

What is it about big cats that makes them so appealing? Although we love to watch big cats and admire their wild nature, we just can’t have a big cat ravaging our home—but there is something close enough to give you a feeling of wilderness. Large cat breeds will give you the impression of living with a wild cat, while providing all the necessary snuggles and love.

Large cat breeds are very unique both mentally and physically. They have a very wild look, almost intimidating size (some breeds can be almost as big as a medium dog!) and their character is the opposite of what you might expect. Large cat breeds are usually very docile and timid, hence deserving the nickname “gentle giants”.

In this article, we will give you a comprehensive list of large cat breeds. Description of every breed will include their full mature size, weight, and life expectancy, just so you can get a full picture.

7 of the Largest Cat Breeds

Below you’ll find a list of the largest cat breeds. One interesting thing is that large cats usually don’t reach physical and mental maturity for a very long time.

While cats usually become sexually mature between 6 and 12 months, it can take as long as 3 years for some large breeds. They also don’t reach full size until age 4 or 5.

Mental maturity is also a factor here—large breeds are often considered “derpy,” but this is only because they have a very long puberty period.

#1: Maine Coon

Maine Coon

Average weight: 22-30 lbs

Average lifespan: 10-15 years

Average length: 70-100 cm

It’s worth mentioning that a Maine Coon cat called Stewie holds the world record as the longest cat! He was (unfortunately, he passed away in 2013) over 4 feet long! This breed is usually considered to be the biggest of them all.

Maine Coons come from Maine, United States. Because of their size and coat pattern, people jokingly call them the love child of a wild cat and a racoon.

First records of the breed come up around the year 1850, describing the Coon as a mix between long-haired European cats and domestic American mousers. The breed was internationally recognized very late (in the early 1980s) but quickly gained popularity all over the world.

Physical characteristics: Coons are really a treat for the eyes. Their coat is long and lush, consisting of two layers. They have a large head with big eyes and prominent ears. Little tufts on top of the ears give Coons a very wild look.

Character: This breed is extremely extroverted and dog-like. In fact, owners usually tell us that their Coons prefer canine company over feline because they will rather run around the yard playing fetch than snooze on the couch waiting for lunch. If you have a pool, don’t be surprised to find your Coon enjoying a morning swim.

They are very intelligent, outgoing, and love human company, including children. Also, this kitty is no scaredy cat. They are big, and they know it, so if you’re up for it, buy a harness and take your big kitty for a walk. A Coon will absolutely love it.

Health and care: Like many other large breeds, Maine Coons need to eat high-quality food rich in protein. This means a raw diet or top-shelf dry food, which will make a hole in your wallet. They also need regular grooming, 3-4 times per week. Beauty has a price.

If you want to buy or adopt a Maine Coon, think about their long, thick fur. Coons don’t handle heat very well; even moderate climate can bring them a lot of suffering. They are best suited for cold, dry, and snowy regions where they have a lot of space to roam.

#2: Selkirk Rex

Selkirk Rex

Average weight: 12-16 lbs

Average lifespan: 10-15 years

Average length: 40-70 cm

Yeah, the name is a bit of a tongue breaker, but the Selkirk Rex is worth it. This breed is known for its undulated fur. In fact, it’s the curliest of them all! Some people even jokingly call them “the Poodle cat”. They are not wrong, though, because this cat breed resembles Poodles in character and in appearance.

Their looks come from a natural mutation. More than 40 years ago, a housecat gave birth to a very ordinary litter of kittens…except for one oddball. That little curly weirdo became the mother of the breed when she was mated with a black Persian male. The rest is just fluffy history.

Physical characteristics: Selkirks come in all colors and vary a lot in size. What makes this curly breed different from others is that its coat has three layers, all of which are curled—whiskers included, believe it or not. They come in both long coat and short coat variety.

Character: Selkirks are very laid back and loving, but they also like to exercise. Their Persian heritage gave them a lot of that soft and purry affection towards humans, but if they are neglected or mistreated, Selkirks can become reserved and distant. This breed is even known to rehome itself if the conditions are not up to the standards.

Health and care: Selkirk Rex cats need to be groomed regularly because their coat gets matted easily. They are also somewhat prone to kidney disease, so it’s important to feed them high-quality food and do regular check-ups. Some members of the breed are known to have problems with tear ducts, so regular eye cleaning is in order.

#3: Ragdoll

very big ragdoll

Average weight: 15-19 lbs

Average lifespan: 12-15 years

Average length: 60-90 cm

These kitties are mostly known for their timid temperament. They are so laid back that some people think Ragdolls don’t feel pain. Of course, this is far from the truth, but this breed is very patient and passive by nature. The Ragdoll breed is a result of crosses between Siamese, Burmese, and Persian.

Physical characteristics: Ragdolls are very big cats, and their fluffy, long coat makes them look even more massive. If you try to pick them up, they will go limp. This breed always has blue eyes and a colorpoint coat, so it’s easy to recognize.

Due to their “sleepy” attitude, they can seem clumsy and passive, but they will gladly follow you around the house as a quiet, endearing companion. There is not as much need for exercise as with some other breeds, but making them a cat shelf (and a big one) here and there will make them happy and relatively active.

Character: Like most large breeds, Ragdolls stay kitten-like for a very long time. It takes up to three years for them to fully mature both mentally and physically.

There is hardly a cat with a more unintrusive character; they will not ask for attention, pets, or playtime, since they are very quiet. But that doesn’t mean they don’t care; on the contrary, a lonely Ragdoll is a miserable cat. They love to be surrounded by family and other pets, as long as they’re treated well.

Due to the passive nature of this breed, some people even take them to work, because they don’t intrude and love companionship more than anything.

Health and care: This breed needs to be groomed regularly. Their thick, multi-layer coat easily gets entangled, so be prepared for three brushing sessions per week. Also, regular vet check-ups are a must for this breed because Ragdolls just don’t complain. Ever.

They might be in great pain, and you won’t even notice, because they wouldn’t signal it in any way. Also, they tend to get overweight because of low activity levels, so keep your Ragdoll on a strict diet.

#4: Bengal

Bengal cat and kitten

Average weight: 10-18 lbs

Average lifespan: 12-15 years

Average length: 60-80 cm.

Want a wild feel in your home? Look no further! The Bengal is a miniature leopard roaming your kitchen. Or on the kitchen ceiling, if she feels especially rambunctious. The energy and hunting drive of this cat makes them even more authentic, and you might feel overwhelmed with their incredible stamina.

This kitty is a product of a very peculiar mix—a good old Domestic Shorthair and an Asian Leopard cat. The breed came to existence in 1963, and the world went bonkers over it. Since then, it became known as one of the most expensive cat breeds in history.

Physical characteristics: Although not among the biggest breeds out there, Bengal males can weigh up to 18 lbs. The coat of a Bengal is spotted or with marble markings. They have longer back legs with very strong muscles, making them extremely fast and agile.

The head of a Bengal cat really takes you to the wild side—extensive markings, small rounded ears, and huge green to yellow eyes.

Character: Bengals are highly intelligent and inquisitive. You’ll find them in the weirdest of places, including the washing machine. Whatever you do, always check for the cat first. Since they are very dexterous, they can climb almost anywhere and can easily learn how to open doors.

Bengals are known escape artists, so make sure everything in your house and yard is cat proof. They love humans and other animals but are not great companions for children due to their energetic nature.

Health and care: Bengals need exercises—a lot of it. People often fall in love with the looks and attitude of this breed, only to realize they cannot keep up with the exercise requirements.

They literally need two hours of extensive exercise every day. If you have the time for that, awesome! But if you don’t want to turn your home into a giant cat gym, maybe go with another breed.

Bengals are the only known breed of domestic cat that is immune to feline leukemia, and are otherwise very healthy cats. However, due to overbreeding, there are health issues like heart disease and cataract. Take extra caution when you’re buying this breed, and do your homework.

#5: Norwegian Forest Cat

orange Norwegian Forest Cat

Average weight: 17-22 lbs

Average lifespan: 15-18 years

Average length: 80-100 cm.

So. Much. Fluff! Although the Norwegian Forest Cat does not weigh nearly as much as some other cat giants, their fluffy, dense, long coat makes them look immense. They also have a somewhat wild look to them, which is especially accented in the tabby varieties.

The homeland of this majestic creature is the Scandinavian region, where these cats have been used as mousers for centuries. The thick, water repellent fur helped them survive the harsh climate, since they were rarely kept as pets. Most of them had never seen the inside of a house. This is a true working breed, and many character traits of the original forest cats have been preserved.

Physical characteristics: These cats are very long. Combined with lush fur and a long, fluffy tail, you could easily mistake them for a medium-sized dog from a distance. The coat consists of a thick, woolly undercoat and a water-repelling long overcoat.

Norwegian Forest Cats do not do well in warm areas, and can’t take long periods of warm weather. Another characteristic feature of this breed is the head: long, triangular, with almond-shaped eyes and big ears. The tufts on top of the ears are long and incredibly cute.

Character: If you want a Scandinavian mentality in a nutshell, look at the Norwegian Forest Cat. Calm, composed, and graceful, yet somewhat aloof and cold. This breed is very independent, likes to roam freely, and doesn’t cope well with being contained in a small apartment, especially because they like a lot of personal space.

This breed is a perfect addition to a farm somewhere in the northern region, where there is no risk of a heat stroke and there is a lot of space to roam and hunt. A Norwegian Forest Cat contained in a small space can become aggressive.

Health and care: Norwegian Forest Cats tend to shed a lot and need regular seasonal grooming. If they are outdoor cats (which they should be), a regular grooming session is in order every now and then because they can bring all kinds of dirt inside.

Also, this breed likes to eat a lot but is not glutenous. Fill their bowl to the brim in the morning and let them nibble away throughout the day.

#6: Chausie Cat

Chausie Cat walking

Average weight: 15-30 lbs

Average lifespan: 11-14 years

Average length: 70-90 cm.

Also known as the “Miniature Cougar cat,” the Chausie looks very wild and exotic. Think Abyssinian, but three times as big. This cat also has wild ancestry, making it a hybrid. It is a mix of a jungle cat from central Asia and an Abyssinian cat.

Physical characteristics: The head is elongated with huge, yellow eyes and large ears. The coat color is either a typical Abyssinian or a unique black grizzled pattern. Chausies are very muscular, sturdy, and strong—not to mention that they have the prey drive of a real wild cat. They are incredibly agile, fast, and excellent climbers.

Character: Chausies are really sociable and love to play with humans. However, like all other cats of wild ancestry, they do not mix well with children—or anything gentle and delicate, for that matter.

A house where a Chausie lives is a house completely modified to be cat-friendly and cat proof, because this breed has tons of energy. They need to be socialized with other animals as early as possible because they have a bit of a temper.

Health and care: These cats are very low maintenance when it comes to grooming. They also need a very specific diet that contains meat, and meat only. They can’t digest plant matter, so if you don’t want to cook, find a good gluten-free formula.

#7: Savannah

Savannah cat on coach

Average weight: 18-30 lbs

Average lifespan: 10-13 years

Average length: 70-110 cm.

Yet another wild beauty. The Savannah is a hybrid between a Siamese cat and an African Serval. The size and other physical characteristics depend on the generation. For example, the first generation, or the direct cross (F1), is the largest and more on the wild side. The once removed (F2) are smaller. F3 is even smaller and more domestic cat-like, etc.

Physical characteristics: Although they are not the biggest, Savannahs are definitely the tallest of all domestic breeds. They can jump over 7 feet in the air and are one of the fastest domestic animals!

They have very long legs and a lean, muscular body. The face is really wild looking, including the black tear marks just like you can see on cheetahs. Savannahs also sound wild; there are no cute meows around here, just growls and hissing. They need a lot of open space, but since they can walk very long distances, a large enclosure is the safest option.

Character: Savannahs are very active and intelligent. They need to exercise and will gladly play in water. They love to be a member of a big human family, but it’s not a good choice for a first-time cat owner.

Kids need to be educated on how to handle such a humongous (and super sharp) creature. If you’re not sure, you know what you’re doing, better pass this breed.

Health and care: No significant health issues or grooming requirements. Savannahs need a diet very rich in protein, meaning that more than 95% of their diet must consist of meat. Raw would be perfect.

Wrap Up

giant cat

Large cat breeds are really something special. Majestic and graceful, combined with twice as much cat! But do not forget—cats are predators, nature’s finest killing machines. A big cat is a very strong animal, and if you don’t know how to handle it, you might get seriously hurt. This is especially important when it comes to hybrids.

Another thing you should always think about when getting a purebred cat is the lineage. Many breeds grew so popular in the past decades that anyone and everyone decided to get a quick buck by producing kittens. Many breeds suffered from it, so make sure to buy from a reputable breeder.

Which of the large cat breeds we mentioned above is your favorite? Do you plan to adopt a cat? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below! Next, check out our article on how much space does a cat need. A big cat certainly needs a bigger space than others!

About the author
Stella Noble
Stella Noble

Stella Noble lives in Warren, Michigan with her family and three cats. She is a Certified Cat Trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.