One of my favorite parts about being a cat owner is a little something I like to call ‘snuggle time’. Cats are just naturally soft animals. Even the hairless breeds have a velvety feel to them. This makes snuggling with your furry feline a comforting treat. What’s even better is when your kitty is big enough—and willing—to snuggle you back (that sounded much less ‘crazy cat lady-esque’ in my head).
So, how exactly does a cat snuggle back? Take for example the current title holder for the world’s biggest cat – Hercules. Hercules is what’s known as a liger.
For those of you who haven’t seen Napoleon Dynamite, a liger is the byproduct of a male lion and a female tiger. In case you haven’t already assumed from the larger than life name of Hercules, he’s more than just a big cat. According to Our Planet, Hercules weighs in at an astonishing 922 pounds and is 131 inches long from nose to tailbone. If you do the math (who are we kidding, I Googled it), that is over 10 feet. This means if Hercules were to stand on his hind legs, he is twice the height of the average person. Even in a sitting position Hercules is just over 4 feet from ground to shoulder. Talk about some serious cat cuddles!
Hercules spends most of his time at a wildlife preserve in South Carolina with his three brothers – also of epic proportions – Zeus, Sinbad, and Vulcan. Hercules’ size can be attributed to something called gene expression or, more specifically, genomic imprinting. To put it in simpler terms, our sources at Messy Beast explain that size in a hybrid animal is determined by whether or not a certain growth gene is inherited from its parents. In the case of the liger, the gene that inhibits growth past a certain point is not inherited.
Since you probably wouldn’t want to snuggle with a wild animal (I hope), there are some domestic breeds whose sizes still get pretty impressive without running the risk of eating you for dinner. Phew. The second hybrid on our list is Trouble. According to Laura Moss from Mother Nature Network, Trouble stood 19 inches from shoulder to paw and claimed the Guinness record for tallest cat. Trouble was a Savannah —a cross between the African Serval and an American domestic cat. These cuties look like mini leopards. The Cat Time breed breakdown says they are also extremely playful and active. In fact, many Savannah owners compare them to dogs in temperament. They can even be walked on leashes! The breed is naturally larger in size due to its wild lineage and takes about three years to become fully grown.
Across the Atlantic, UK kitty Ludo—the Maine Coon—is quickly on his way to becoming the world’s longest cat. The previous title belonged to fellow Maine Coon and therapy cat, Stewie, who was an incredible 48.5 inches but passed away due to cancer a few years ago. Karen Harrison Binette at Life With Cats, interviewed Ludo’s pet parents, who said that right now Ludo weighs 24.5 pounds and is 45 inches long (just under 4 feet!) from nose to tailbone. Amazing, right? Especially since Ludo is only 17 months old and still has lots of growing left to do. Ludo’s pet mom Kelsey claims that even though he is large, he is extremely friendly and doesn’t cost them any more than their other cats. In fact, Ludo eats less than their smaller kitties.
Our next cuddly cat is Ulric – a 30 pound orange and white Norwegian Forest cat. While Norwegian Forest cats are known for being a larger breed, 30 pounds is considered by vets to be unhealthy. Oddee writer Natalie Umansky mentions that Ulric’s pet mom, Jan, had tried everything she could to help poor Ulric with his weight. This included diet, walking on a leash, and even entering a UK fitness competition (seriously, how cool does that sound?!). When nothing was working, Jan decided to get Ulric a puppy. After all, what’s better for staying active than being chased and chewed on by a rambunctious pup? It seems to have worked, as Ulric is steadily losing weight.
Our last epic cuddler and, unfortunately, a more serious case of kitty obesity, is the New Jersey American Shorthair: Sprinkles. Poor Sprinkles is four years old and was found recently during a home foreclosure. Tipping the scales at 33 pounds, Sprinkle’s breed and build are simply not made to carry such a large amount of weight. Unable to walk and roll over on her own, the amazing crew at Sea Isle Cats has been giving her the care she needs to get back to a healthy weight and regain her mobility. She seems to be doing well and will need a furever home where she can be the center of attention. To keep up with Sprinkles and her progress—and to see all the other precious little faces that need to be adopted—check out Sea Isle Cats on Facebook.
Grab A Cuddle-bug
Interested in having a cat big enough to spoon with? According to Cats Around The Globe, here are some of the breeds known for getting the largest.
- Siberian Forest Cat – This national cat of Russia takes about five years to reach its full growth potential. It is equipped with a luxurious thick coat of fur and a neck ruff (imagine a cross between a lion’s mane and an Elizabethan puffy collar). Neutered males are known to grow to around 25 pounds.
- Norwegian Forest Cat – As the name would suggest, this is the official cat of Norway. These long-haired beauties are absolutely gorgeous and also feature a neck ruff (theirs is much more lion-esque than puffy collar). They have dense muscular bodies—weighing in at around 22 pounds or more—and also take around five years to be considered fully grown.
- Maine Coon – Complete with tufted feet (cute little long haired patches between the toes), a neck ruff, and a luxurious long coat, the Maine Coon is one of the largest breeds of cats around. Take previously mentioned Ludo from the UK who is almost 4 feet long, for example!
- Savannah – This is one of the more recently accepted hybrid breeds of cats. The F-1 (first generation) is the largest and can reach up to 30 pounds, while subsequent generations such as F-4 (fourth generation) Savannah’s aren’t much larger than a regular domestic cat.
- Ragdolls – Ok, so these are one of my most favorite cat breeds. These things get HUGE. They are also equipped with beautiful long fur and are most commonly seen with a Himalayan pattern (like what you would see on a Siamese cat). These beauties can weigh more than 20 pounds and the best part is they are usually total lap cats. They are known to melt into your arms even when cradled like a baby – which as most cat lovers know, is pretty rare.
Bonus Fun Fact: The “scientific” name for cat lovers is ailurophiles.