Skip to main content

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.


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.


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.


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.


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…
These are the best boy cat names we’ve ever heard
Top boy cat names for your furry bundle of joy
Orange cat on a chair

What's in a name? So much, at least when naming a cat. Sure, a cat may not come when you call like a dog does (but they might). However, your cat's name can reflect their personalities (and yours).

Picking out the best name for your cat can feel like a tall task, albeit more fun than choosing a litter box. There are many options to choose from, but none feel quite right. If you're expecting a boy, we've got you covered. These are the best boy cat names, from famous cats and people to regal-sounding monikers.
Most popular and trending boy cat names

Read more
Why do cats like being pet? (and where you should pet them)
This is the right way to pet a cat
A woman lies in bed petting her cat

Every cat owner has gone to pet their fur baby, only to get swatted in the face by their kitty. Sometimes, it can seem like cats don't enjoy affection at all. But while these finicky animals might prefer you pet them only on their terms, most cats do want pats from time to time, in the right places, of course. So why do cats like being pet? We'll walk you through where, how, and why to pet your four-legged feline friend.
Why do cats like being pet?

Like so many things, you need to understand their basic nature to have a better sense of why they yearn for your attention. Even in the wild, you might see cats groom and snuggle together, which has evolved into head scratches and belly rubs. Why else do kitties want you to stroke them? Here are four reasons.
It feels good
You may also spy your cat rolling on the carpet, lying in the sun, or licking their paws. While these actions can have practical reasons, for the most part, our beasties engage in the behaviors because they feel good. Cats can also be satisfied by a petting session from their human, and so they will look for you to fulfill this need.
They like you
It can be tricky to build trust with your pet, but once that's established, your cat will love to act affectionately toward you. You'll find them start to approach you more, perhaps rubbing against your legs or wanting to sit on or near you. Eventually, you'll graduate to outright petting and then they'll be asking for pats all the time.
You should smell like them
Many animals feel that their humans need to smell like them, which is a form of ownership to your mouser. Once you are scented just like your kitty, everyone will know that you're part of their group and belong to them. Cats also rub their bodies, and therefore pheromones, on things in your household, like your bed or your clothes, for the same reasons.
They want attention
We all crave attention sometimes — even our elusive cats. When they want you to notice them, it could be as a result of boredom or anxiety, but they also might just want you to dote on them, as they deserve. You'll soon pick up on your sweet pet's personal preferences and get a good feeling for when they want some love.
Why don't some cats like petting?

Read more
60 creative black and white cat names for your new pet
Classic, fun, and adorable names for your black and white kitty
A black and white cat's face

Bringing home a new cat can be so exciting, but there's a lot to think about while your new friend is getting comfortable. You'll want to start buying furnishings, like a cat bed and scratching post, and you'll need to decide what food to feed them. And where will you put their litter box?
However, one decision looms above all the rest in importance: your cat's name. After all, you'll say their name at least a thousand times over the next several years you'll share together, so it has to be something that both you and your cat can enjoy. It can't be too long, or else your cat may not learn it, but it can't be so close to other words that it starts to become meaningless. What is a new cat owner to do?
You can start by checking out these classic, vintage, and adorable black and white cat names. It may take a while to figure out which name fits your cat the best, but you can't go wrong with any of these.

Classic names for black and white cats
If you find yourself charmed by your monochromatic buddy's beautiful coat, you're certainly not alone. Many cat owners name their cats based on the colors of their fur, which is why we compiled these classic names for black and white cats.

Read more