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7 big cat breeds that make great pets

Big cats are almost a totally different animal and will change your pet-owning experience

Ragdoll cat lying on a table
Kadisha / Pixabay

Everyone knows about dog breeds, but some first-time cat owners might not realize that felines have unique breeds, too. Many of the cats you’ve seen are probably domestic shorthair, by far the most common variety. However, every now and then, you might stumble on a cat that looks extra large and wonder what’s different about him. Tt turns out, they could be an entirely unique kind of cat.

While big cats can require some specialized care, they also come along with outsized personalities to match. If you’re looking for more cat to love, try out one of these big cat breeds.

What are the most popular large cat breeds?

Maine Coon cat lying on bed
Sergei Wing / Unsplash

When you first spot a big cat, you’ll be surprised by their extra size. Some of these breeds can weigh in at more than twice what you would expect from the average mouser — the savannah frequently clocks in at 25 pounds. That means you may need to buy extra-sturdy cat trees, adjust their food intake, and have big beds available. Even though they share the extra-large factor, these cats have a lot that sets them apart from each other, too. Here are the breeds you should look into when you want a big cat.

Bengal

You’ll instantly know why these cats deserve the moniker — they look like tiny tigers. Luckily, that’s where the similarities end, as you won’t find a nicer kitty. For this fur baby, you need to provide plenty of exercise and stimulation, as they don’t stay content lounging about for too long.

Maine coon

Though they were likely named after a captain who preferred the breed, fans often remark that this one looks something like a raccoon because of their bushy tails. This breed requires lots of grooming, so add a brush to your shopping list before bringing one home. In terms of personality, there’s never been a more family-oriented cat.

Selkirk rex

Cuddly and cute, the Selkirk rex loves attention that matches their appearance, which is frequently compared to a stuffed animal. This breed has curly and very soft fur, perfect for petting. One last special thing about this feline: They get along great with dogs, so they are perfect for a mixed-pet household.

Savannah

Actually a crossbreed between a domestic cat and a serval, the savannah isn’t a great cat for beginners. They still have enough of a hunting instinct that you need to ensure they get along with other cats or children in the home and might be better suited to living alone with their human. However, if you find the right fit, you’ll love this beautiful and intriguing beastie.

Turkish van

One of the rarer breeds on this list, Turkish vans are hard to come by in the U.S. What sets them apart is their white body mixed with a darker head and tail. Unlike nearly all other kitties, these felines love to swim and are known for being extremely athletic and strongly built.

Ragdoll

Ragdolls have a very peculiar quirk in that they love to be carried and will frequently hang off of their humans. You also get to choose from a wide variety of colors when you select this cat to be your companion. In addition to their attractive coats, you’ll enjoy their gregarious personalities.

Siberian

The last type on our list dates back 1,000 years to Russian breeders who owned this cat. Because of that climate, they have a triple coat that requires special care. Best of all, though, these furry friends are some of the smartest cats out there and can learn tricks and commands if you teach them.

Closing thoughts

A close-up shot of a gray Maine Coon cat with bright green eyes
smgphotographyart / Pixabay

Some large cat breeds won’t be well suited to every household, especially smaller apartments and those with big families. Before you bring home one of these special buddies, research both the variety and the breeder carefully. You’re a lot less likely to find a purebred big cat at the shelter, so you might need to search for specialized rescues or work directly with a reputable breeding organization.

Lots of big cats come with papers verifying their ancestry and you can ask about that early in the process if it matters to you. Remember, too, that you’ll want to work with a vet who understands the unique needs of big cats, including diet and medical. Lastly, if you ever have trouble finding stuff to fit, check out the dog aisle of the pet store. Once you bring home a Maine coon or a Siberian, we doubt you’ll ever be able to return to regular cat ownership.

Rebekkah Adams
Rebekkah’s been a writer and editor for more than 10 years, both in print and digital. In addition to writing about pets…
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