Meet the world's largest domestic cat

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key point:

  • Domesticated cats originated more than 10,000 years ago, likely because they were attracted to mice and rats that lived near humans for grain and other human food. Today, they are well-loved pets, and many live indoors.
  • While the average cat weighs between 8-11 pounds, the Maine Coon is listed as the largest domestic cat breed, weighing up to 20 pounds.
  • Barivel, the world's largest domestic cat, and Omar, the second largest domestic cat, are both Maine Coon cats.
orange cat playing
Some cats can take on more than just their toys!

©Casey Elise Christopher/Shutterstock.com

Felines are graceful, agile, and often deadly creatures that can stalk and attack their prey with great precision. Humans, in our dubious habit of getting up close and personal with wild animals, have managed to domesticate some of these cats. While there have been attempts to tame big cats like tigers, we've had more success taming smaller cats that are less capable of harming humans. Over thousands of years, we domesticated cats, and they now sit on our laps eating canned food. So, what is the largest domestic cat in the world? How does it compare to other felines?

We're going to dig a little deeper into this question and give you a lot of interesting information along the way!

What is a house cat?

Manx cat on a black background
Domestic cats come in many shapes and colors.

© slowmotiongli/Shutterstock.com

Domestic cats are members of the species Felis catus , and they are often referred to as the world's only domesticated feline species. Although many people value their companionship, domestic cats also provide valuable pest control by killing mice and other animals.

It is believed that humans and felines began living together in the Near East about 10,000 years ago, in an area commonly known as the Fertile Crescent. Cats began to stay near human settlements for food like mice. These pests are attracted to stored food and other by-products of human settlements.

At some point, humans started to see cats as companions, who came to depend on humans for food and even shelter. Cats were revered in ancient Egypt, traded in Greece and Rome, and eventually as far north as Germany.

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Ragdoll kitten playing under the bed
Domestic cats are invited into human homes as companion pets.

©iStock.com/Angela Kotsell

One of the most notable changes in domesticated cats over the past few decades has been their transition to keeping pets. In the past, cats were very utilitarian and free. Roaming outside most of the time, they subsist on pest control.

Domestic cats are now very common worldwide, estimated to number in the hundreds of millions. Cats are usually kept indoors, given specific foods, and undergo regular health assessments. This may increase the cat's overall life expectancy and may affect their size when fully grown.

What is the average size of a domestic cat?

Six cats sit on a white background
Most cats are less than 1 foot tall.

© GoodFocused/Shutterstock.com

The average cat weighs between 8 and 11 pounds, stands 9.1 to 9.8 inches tall and is 18 inches long, not including its tail. On average, they are fairly small animals. However, they are very good at pest control, and they are just the right size to sit on a human lap. Their average size is perfect for a human.

After all, cats are huge hunters. If cats were the same size as domestic dogs, they wouldn't make very good pets. In fact, they may pose as major a threat to humans as cougars.

Domestic cats vary widely in size. Some breeds are much larger than others. For example, Norwegian Forest, Ragdoll, and Maine Coon cats can be up to twice the size of smaller breeds such as the Munchkin.

What is the largest domestic cat breed in the world?

Prettiest Cat - Norwegian Forest
The Maine Coon cat is the largest domesticated breed in the world.

©iStock.com/t:undefined Undefined

The Maine Coon is often considered the largest breed of domestic cat in the world. These animals typically weigh up to 20 pounds, stand up to 16 inches tall, and have tails up to 40 inches long. Due to their coloring and lynx-like tufts, these cats are often thought of as a mix between a raccoon and a domestic cat. However, this is not true.

Another very large domestic cat breed is the Norwegian Forest cat. The fluffy kitten weighs 18 pounds, stands 12 inches tall and is about 40 inches long.

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When it comes to the largest domestic cats, Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest cats always top the list along with Bengals and Savannahs. Now, let's take a look at the sizes and breeds of cats currently wearing the biggest cat crowns.

What is the largest domestic cat in the world?

Strongest Cat - Maine Coon
The Barivel is the largest living cat in the world, reaching a length of over 3 feet.

© iStock.com/Frank Anschuetz

The largest domestic cat in the world is a Maine Coon named Barivel. To be clear, this cat holds the world record for the largest living domestic cat. He's not the biggest cat ever. Currently living in Italy, Barivel is recognized as the longest cat in the world at 3ft 11.2in. The cat probably weighed nearly 30 pounds, if it bears any resemblance to the previous record holder.

The largest house cat ever lived was a Maine Coon named Stewie who lived in Reno, Nevada. He measured 4 feet 0.5 inches from nose to tail. His tail is 16.3 inches long. Other very large cats have approached the size of Barivel and Stewie. However, it is difficult to independently verify cat size.

Interestingly, Barivel may have increased in size since the last measurement. Barivel was still growing when he achieved the record in 2018.

A contender for the largest domestic cat in existence

Biggest Maine Coon
Other Maine Coons are large enough to hold the record for the largest domestic cat.

©iStock.com/Sergei Ginak

Another feline may replace Barivel as the largest house cat. The Maine Coon named Omar is about 120 cm tall. If that metric is accurate, Omar could match Barivel or be bigger.

For context, Barrywell was 120 centimeters or 3 feet 11.2 inches when he was last measured. Omar was last measured a few years ago. Since both cats were relatively small at the time, Omar may have become the largest feline in the world.

Omar, who currently lives in Australia, is said to have had raw kangaroo for dinner when he was younger. Interestingly, the owners of Barivel and Omar are quite active on social media. Perhaps in the near future new measurements will be taken for each cat and then this will be resolved.

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Still, 4 feet long and 35 pounds seems to be the upper limit for a cat's size. Of course cats will always gain weight from poor diet and lack of exercise, but the nose to tail length seems to be fairly fixed.

cats and dogs as pets

Given the size of the Maine Coon, one might consider a dog instead. Some dogs are smaller than a Maine Coon, but most are larger. What other factors need to be considered?

  • Cats are not faithful hounds. While dogs are happy to be with their owners, cats are very independent and need time away.
  • Historically, dogs were pack animals while cats were solitary hunters.
  • Dogs are more eager to please and therefore easier to train. Cats are trainable, but it takes a lot of work. Often, cat behavior can only be monitored and disciplined.
  • It is easier and cheaper to keep a cat. All they need is food and an annual check-up by the veterinarian. Dogs need lots of attention and regular exercise. Cats use the litter box instinctively, but it's hard to train a dog to do things outside. The owner must then pick up the poop and dispose of it properly. Cleaning out the litter box isn't much fun either, so it probably comes down to which task is less rowdy for the owner.
  • Cats can be great cuddling companions, but so can dogs if they're small enough and can be raised as pugs.

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featured image

The longest cat - Maine Coon
The Maine Coon is the longest cat in the world. This gentle giant combines many great qualities, including a strong affection for people and a playful disposition.

© iStock.com/mstudeny


about the author


I'm a freelance writer with 8 years of experience. I've written in various fields such as Managed Service Providers, Animals and Retail Distribution. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading and writing.

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