At first glance, it is easy to classify cats in the “small animals” category. While there are many small breeds of cats, the large breeds of cats on this list make a very good case for putting cats in the “large pet” category. They are certainly not the size of a lion, but many are larger than the petite wildcats found around the world. While all domesticated cats retain and display many of their wildcat instincts, the kittens on this list actually make excellent pets. (Although we’ll note that the cat is likely to see you as a pet, and not the other way around.)
Domesticated vs. wild cats
House cats are only domesticated to a certain extent. This is perhaps the most important fact to keep in mind when deciding on a breed or considering owning a cat as a pet. In fact, the DNA of domesticated cats is shockingly similar to the DNA of wild cats.
In his book Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life, John Gray writes that thousands of years ago cats essentially entered human society “on their own terms”. Even after all this time cats and humans have lived and worked together, domesticated cats remain largely untamed in their behavior and instincts. They hunt, eat meat, adapt to changing environments, and do not adhere to hierarchies. Lions are the only known big cats that live in groups. Because cats prefer a solo lifestyle, they are not programmed to establish a leader like dogs. Because of this, it is difficult to train a cat to respond to commands; they literally don’t respect you as their alpha leader. Humiliating, isn’t it?
Owning a large breed of cats
Large breeds of cats may need more attention than small breeds of cats simply because they need more space to accommodate their wildcat impulses. This becomes difficult if you want to keep the cat indoors and live in a confined space. But don’t rush to introduce your cat to the great outdoors just yet.
The National Wildlife Federation says there is controversy over whether domesticated cats are allowed to be free range cats. Cats are natural hunters, so they hunt (duh) when they are outside. Conservation groups argue that domestic cat hunting habits have decimated local bird and wildlife populations. Organizations and animal shelters, especially those that operate in urban areas, often advise against letting domestic cats roam free. This has more to do with the many dangers a cat faces in a city (broken glass, excessive traffic, garbage rats) than the local wildlife, but it’s still a good reason to keep cats indoors.
The story goes on
Essentially, when you go the indoor cat route with a breed of any size, you have to recreate outdoor activities inside. Breeds that have a tendency to climb trees require tall cat towers with perches as high as possible. Scratching posts are necessary to keep nails clean, expel energy, and mark territories. Interactive toys will be crucial in mimicking hunts and keeping your kitty’s brain sharp. Pro Tip: Using a laser pointer can be a fun way to send your cat on an exciting hunting expedition. Just make sure to set up rewards along the way.
When it comes to care, less is more. Cats groom themselves. While long haired cats are advised to brush to ensure they don’t develop mats or tangles, bathing cats is not necessary unless they are covered in something nasty. During grooming (and in everyday life), pay attention to your cat’s body language to monitor its health and happiness. They will let you know when you’ve exceeded your limits.
Joint problems tend to bother large cats more than their small breed counterparts. If your cat has difficulty walking or jumping, ask your veterinarian for an x-ray. Symptoms like these can mean hip dysplasia or patellar dislocation, a disease of the kneecap.
Another characteristic of many large cat breeds is how slowly they reach full maturity. Most of the cats on our list don’t fully mature until they are three years old; some won’t be there until their fifth birthday. If you are really looking for the tallest cat possible, choose a male cat as males are significantly larger than females in both height and weight.
Finally, choose a breed that is ideal for your lifestyle. Everyone wants something different when it comes to a pet. Large breeds of cats vary widely in terms of temperament, activity level, personality, and size. Before welcoming them home, do some research on the breed – otherwise, you might find that you are experiencing more lion behavior than you expected.
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Height: 12-14 inches
Weight: 7-12 pounds (women), 9-17 pounds (men)
Coat: Short, tight
Colour: Diverse (known for blue-gray)
Life expectancy: 12-20 years
Personality: Adaptable, loving
The British Shorthair is a calm breed that is not afraid to show affection and is very cuddly. They are excellent pets for families with children looking for a live teddy bear or seniors who want a carefree companion. Most of the time, you’ll find a British Shorthair in a blue and gray coat, but they come in a variety of colors and patterns. Invest in more comfortable beds than cat apartments with this nicker-friendly breed at home.
Height: 13-17 in
Weight: 8-13 pounds (women), 13-19 pounds (men)
Coat: Short, tight
Colour: Brown, tan
Life expectancy: 12-18 years
Personality: Intelligent, adventurous
Make sure you give a chausie plenty of nooks and crannies to explore when you take one home. These smart cats love to learn (which is impressive) so don’t be afraid to teach tricks or train them for outdoor adventures. Because chausies are very active, they may need to consume more calories than, for example, the sedentary British Shorthair. They are like little cougars exploring their kingdoms!
Height: 10-16 in
Weight: 12-15 pounds (women), 18-25 pounds (men)
Coat: Long, silky
Life expectancy: 12-20 years
Personality: Cute, smart
Maine Coons are sturdy, furry cats built for the harsh winters of the American Northeast. Despite their dominant looks, including big ears and long tails, Maine Coons are some of the best cats for kids. Their playful, friendly nature and the desire to be involved in all activities make them sociable pets.
Height: 9-12 inches
Weight: 8-12 pounds (women), 12-18 pounds (men)
Coat: Long, double coat, coarse
Colour: Various (known for white and tabby mix)
Life expectancy: 13-20 years
Personality: Independent, loving
The Cat Breeders Association says it is a must to have scratching posts and climbing towers for Norwegian forest cats. It is said that these cats roamed Viking ships to keep rodents away. Today they are loving family members who need a space to call their own. If they’re in the mood, snuggle up, but don’t force it. Just enjoy their company (because they will likely follow you everywhere).
Height: 9-13 inches
Weight: 9-11 pounds (women), 11-14 pounds (men)
Coat: Thick double coat, long and short haired varieties
Colour: Brown, tan, tabby
Life expectancy: 13-15 years
Personality: Active, loyal
Pixiebob cats do well in households with children and other pets. Their thirst for adventure and their lust for fun make them excellent playmates. With curved tails and thick double coats, pixiebobs need extra attention in the grooming department – brush regularly to keep their fur matt-free.
Height: 10-15 inches
Weight: 8-13 pounds (women), 14-20 pounds (men)
Coat: Medium to long, soft, dense
Life expectancy: 12-16 years
Personality: Patient, loving
Another cat that goes well with children is the ragamuffin. Similar to British Shorthair, ragamuffins are great companions for introverts and seniors. These kittens are stuffed animals and enjoy lots of playtime with their favorite person, so invest in toys. Because of their tendency to love and trust easily, keeping Ragamuffins as indoor cats is highly recommended.
Height: 9-11 inches
Weight: 10-15 pounds (women), 15-20 pounds (men)
Coat: Long, soft
Colour: White bodies, pointed markings
Life expectancy: 13-18 years
Personality: Sweet, patient
As one of the most loving cat breeds, Ragdolls are ideal for people with children or those in need of an affectionate therapy cat. Unlike the British Shorthair, these cats enjoy (or tolerate) being picked up and carried around. To avoid obesity among ragdolls, engage them in interactive playtime. Bright blue eyes are a stunning feature of these big cats.
Height: 10-17 in
Weight: 11-20 pounds (women), 13-23 pounds (men)
Coat: Short to medium length, coarse
Colour: Spotted black and brown
Life expectancy: 12-15 years
Personality: Energetic, sociable
According to the Guinness Book of Records, the three youngest winners were Savannah’s largest domestic cat. While many of the large cat breeds on our list are known for their weight, these cats are long and lanky. Bred by combining domestic cats with wild African servals, it’s no wonder these bold animals have energy to spare. They’re also not legal in all 50 states because of their ancestry. Savannahs appreciate tall perches and new adventures.
Height: 10-12 inches
Weight: 12-20 pounds
Coat: Long, three-ply
Colour: Different colors and patterns
Life expectancy: 10-18 years
Personality: Intelligent, gentle
These cats are touted for their physical strength and are great softies too. The long, three-layer coats, native to Russia, offer warmth and protection. (Some people with cat allergies have found Siberians to be hypoallergenic, although this may vary from person to person.) Gentle and gentle Siberian cats enjoy regular playtime with their family. Their intelligence also makes them sneaky little devils who can find a way into any room they want.
Height: 10-14 in
Weight: 10-20 pounds
Coat: Medium to long, soft
Colour: White with red, cream, black, or blue markings on the head and tail
Life expectancy: 13-17 years
Personality: Social, intelligent
Turkish Van Cats have a lot of personality. These active cats are always on the lookout for their next adventure. Any toy with a mental challenge component will help Turkish Vans avoid boredom. Get ready to spot them on the bookshelves as they love heights. These gorgeous cats are pretty rare, so count your blessings whenever you meet (or adopt!) One.
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