Discussions on which is the largest cat breed abound. There is much debate over which recognized breed is truly the largest, usually because the term ‘largest’ is open to interpretation. It could mean the tallest cat, or perhaps the one which weighs the most. However, in the world of cat fancy, when speaking of the largest cat, most experts would agree that the defining characteristic is weight.
This still can lead to a bit of confusion, so experts go on to define this further. The largest breed is considered the cat which has the greatest weight within its own breed standard. This means that simply overfeeding a cat will not mean that suddenly that particulr breed is the largest. Instead, the cat(s) in question must meet their breed standard, avoiding penalties and disqualifications in all shows. Of course, this also means that the breed must be recognized by a fair number of associations and federations around the world in order to be considered the largest breed of domestic cat.
This limits the field quite a bit. The Savannah might be considered to be the largest breed, as they sometimes weigh an average of 20-27 pounds; some cats weigh as much as 30 pounds. However, since they are not formally recognized by either the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) or the Cat Fanciers’ Federation (CFF), it is quite easy to eliminate this breed as a contender for the title ‘largest cat breed.’
The Norwegian Forest Cat is fairly large as well, and it is recognized by most associations around the world. However, this cat is more tall than heavy. Though it weighs anywhere from 13-22 pounds. Though this breed is obviously fairly tall, there are heavier and taller cats still.
The mysterious Ragdoll, beautiful and perfect for families, is another large breed. Weighing from 15-20 pounds, it would appear to be smaller than the Norwegian Forest Cat. However, these cats sometimes weight up to 25 pounds while still conforming to their breed standard. This would appear to put them at the front of the pack, so to speak. The Ragamuffin, a distinct breed in its own right, is very similar to the Ragdoll in terms of size.
The Maine Coon Cat, a native of New England, is a breed that has a large following. They are one of the most popular breeds in the United States and Canada, and have steadily gained ground in Europe. The origins of this cat are subject to much debate, but it is clear that the Maine Coon Cat has long since established itself as a legitimate breed. It also is one of the heaviest, weighing anywhere from 15-25 pounds.
The Ragdoll, Ragamuffin, and Maine Coon Cat all seem to have similar weights. In this case, it is helpful to look at the relative lengths of the cats. To date, there has not been a Ragdoll or Ragamuffin measured that has turned out to be longer than the longest Maine Coon Cat. If you combine the relative weights and sizes of these differing breeds, it becomes clear that the Maine Coon Cat is the largest of all domestic cat breeds.
Maine Coon Cats certainly deserve their reputation as the largest of all cats. Their weight and size give them a larger appearance and feel than any other breed of domestic cat. As such, there can be little debate when it comes to the largest cat, if you use weight as the first criteria, and break the tie with length (from the nose to the tip of the tail).