For those who like their cats big

00:46, Dec 01 2011

I recently met the biggest cat I've ever seen: he weighed 12 kilograms but wasn't the least bit fat. That's because he was a Maine Coon, a breed of cat that's in proportion - huge in all respects, a massive, magnificent armful of cat.

  Rooster the Maine Coon cross can't quite balance on the toilet seat.
I seldom say this, because I'm a man of mostly modest material demands, but I want one.

A Maine Coon lovers' group had a booth at the Pet Expo a couple of weekends ago, and this was where the meeting happened. The woman attending the booth lifted out of a cage a ginger, longhaired lion of a cat for people to gape at and stroke. His lower jaw was heavier than you usually see in a domestic cat, adding to his lionlike looks, and his paws were the size of coffee mugs.

The longest cat in the world, as recognised by Guinness, is a Maine Coon measuring 123 centimetres from nose to tail. Measure it out sometime - it's about the length of a dog leash - and try to imagine that space being taken up by one cat.

Imagine one in your house, spilling off a chair or pinning you to the couch on a cold evening. It's puss galore, and some people wouldn't have it any other way. They like their cats on the giant side.

   Cirion is 11kg of fluggy Norwegian Forest Cat goodness.
Maine Coons aren't the only big breed of domestic cat. Norwegian Forest Cats and Siberian Forest Cats are similarly longhaired and almost as vast, though to my eyes their faces are more moggy-like than leonine. Bengal cats are sizable too, and slender with it. Ragdolls can get big, and that soft ragdoll coat is a miracle in itself.

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Non-purebred cats can grow to quite a size too. One reason I fell for our Merrick when meeting him at the SPCA years ago was his mass - tall, long and heavy. He maxed out at 7.3 kilos but with age and illness he's now below 6kg with his big bones holding much less flesh than before. At his biggest, he'd make quite a thump when jumping on the bed (and often landing bruisingly on one's legs). I kind of miss that.

Thanks to all the blog readers who sent these pictures of their own much-loved giant cats...

Meet the venerable Obi, 12 years old. Owner Mike says Obi is one of the top Maine Coon bloodlines imported from Sweden, and that many of the breed now in New Zealand could well be his grand- or great-grand or even great-great-grandkids. Obi is still as numble as a kitten, Mike says.

Pixie's name is a little ironic.

Charlie is a young Maine Coon who shares a home with a couple of King Charles Cavalier spaniels, including Scally Wag, pictured here. For such a big cat, Charlie has a tiny meow, I'm told.

At 6.4kg, bicolour Seal Ragdoll Johnny is not the biggest of his breed, but he towers over Layla the kitten.

Sleepy Big Boy is a Maine Coon/Persian.

This big guy is Findlay, weighing in at 8kg. He was a cat-door-busting, windowsill-leaping clown. RIP Findlay.

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