10 Unique Cats That Look Like Lions (With Pictures)

Owning a pet lion may not be the most practical choice for prospective pet owners. These big cats, although related to housecats, are better appreciated from a distance than their cuddly domestic cousins, whether from behind the safety glass at a zoo or seated in front of our computer and television screens.

However, for the lion-obsessed, watching a nature documentary at home might not cut it. Fortunately for these people, there are several cats that look like lions, albeit far less likely to send you to the ER than their wild counterparts.

These breeds may not be perfect doubles, but you’ll find that they all possess at least one or more characteristics that are leonine in appearance.

The 10 Cats That Look Like Lions

This list contains a wide variety of breeds well suited to a number of different environments and lifestyles, with a range of care requirements. Due to their diversity, there is likely a cat on this list that meets your criteria and would fit well in your household.

1. Somali Cat

Somali cat
Somali cat | image by Finn Frode via Flickr | CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Average Lifespan: 11-16 years
Average Size: 6-10 pounds
Coat: medium-long

The Somali Cat is a mid-sized cat with roots tracing back to Somalia and Ethiopia. It is believed to be a relative of the Abyssinian, which appears later on our list. The breed’s sandy coat and scruff of fur around its neck mirrors the Lion’s signature colors and mane, making it a dead ringer for its much larger cousin.

Active and playful, the Somali cat is considered an overall healthy breed that makes for a great household companion. While perhaps not the best mouser of the cats that look like lions on this list, the Somali is sometimes known to hunt small rodents.

2. Chausie

chausie | image by: Lance Klausner

Average Lifespan: 12-18 years
Average Size: 11-16 pounds
Coat: short

Only recently developed, the Chausie is a hybrid cat breed that was produced by crossing a jungle cat with domestic cat breeds.

Due to its wild heritage, the Chausie’s appearance bears the ferocity and poise many people associate with larger cat species. Paired with its sandy coat, the Chausie has been compared to both cougars and lions.

While retaining some of the wild characteristics of the jungle cat, generations of the breed have been produced by repeatedly crossing them with domestic cat breeds, making the Chausie fairly tame and well suited to indoor living.

3. Maine Coon

maine coon | image by: Ralph Nordenhold

Average Lifespan: 12-16 years
Average Size: 13-18 pounds
Coat: long, dense

The Maine Coon is one of the largest cat breeds, having been originally developed in the US as a mousing breed with keen hunting skills to curb rodent populations on farms. The Maine Coon’s furry ruff resembles the mane of a lion, although its coloration is its own and unlike that of its wild counterpart.

With its thick coat and adept hunting skills, this breed thrives outdoors and does well in cold weather conditions. Unlike many cat breeds, the Maine Coon has been known to swim and enjoy the water.

4. Abyssinian

Abyssinian staring at the camera
Abyssinian staring at the camera | image by Andrea Belvedere via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Average Lifespan: 9-15 years
Average Size: 9-17 pounds
Coat: short

The Abyssinian originates from northern Africa where it was bred as a companion animal and mousing breed.

Like its relative, the Somali Cat, the Abyssinian possesses a lion’s sandy coat. Although lacking a mane, the Abyssinian is wild in appearance and its features are reminiscent of other wild cat species.

Like the Maine Coon, the Abyssinian is another of the cats that look like lions that enjoys taking to the water, and it is recognized as a prolific swimmer.

5. Norwegian Forest Cat

Norwegian forest cat
Norwegian forest cat | image by DavideGorla via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Average Lifespan: 14-16 years
Average Size: 12-16 pounds
Coat: long

Superficially resembling the Maine Coon, the Norwegian Forest Cat is a large breed originally from northern Europe where it was bred as a mouser to curb rodent infestations.

Also like the Maine Coon, this breed has a larger ruff around its neck similar to the mane of a lion. Like lions, this breed is a fierce and dedicated hunter, and is well equipped to live outside, even in harsh conditions.

Unlike lions, however, the Norwegian Forest Cat does make for a good household pet. Despite its severe aspect, the breed is known to be affectionate and loving to its family.

6. Siberian Cat

Siberian cat
Siberian cat | Image by ArtActiveArt from Pixabay

Average Lifespan: 12-18 years
Average Size: 15-20 pounds
Coat: long, dense

One of the heaviest breeds on this list, the Siberian Cat is another large cat breed and hails from northern Russia, where it adapted its thick winter coat to handle freezing temperatures.

Possessing the mane of a lion, this breed is also known for its exceptional strength and agility, having historically been used to control rodent populations, living outside and in barns. Due to its incredibly dense and lengthy coat, the Siberian is soft to the touch and may appear much larger than it actually is.

7. Ragdoll

Ragdoll cat on the bed
Ragdoll cat on the bed | image by Alicja via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Average Lifespan: 10-15 years
Average Size: 12-18 pounds
Coat: long, dense

Only recently developed in California in the 1960s, the Ragdoll cat was produced from a mix of Burmese and Angora breeds. Like many other cats that look like lions, their most leonin feature is their dense mane which surrounds their neck.

Its uniquely bold and affectionate disposition have also drawn comparisons between this breed and dogs. For this reason, the breed is great for families and will play well with children.

8. Ragamuffin

Ragamuffin cat
Ragamuffin cat | image by Takashi Hososhima via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Average Lifespan: 10-15 years
Average Size: 11-17 pounds
Coat: long, dense

As the name might suggest, the Ragamuffin is actually an offshoot breed developed from Ragdolls, originally established in the mid 1990s. Much like its predecessor, the Ragamuffin features a pronounced mane around its nape and possesses a sturdy frame.

Like the Ragdoll and Siberian, the Ragamuffin takes unusually long to mature (about 4-5 years), and is known to be a bold and friendly household companion.

9. British Longhair

British longhair sleeping
British longhair sleeping | image by Fanni 93 via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

Average Lifespan: 10-16 years
Average Size: 8-16 pounds
Coat: long

A medium sized breed, the British Longhair was originally developed in England from Persian and Angora stock, two breeds known for their fine and lengthy coats.

Possessing an especially broad face, the British Longhair, like many others on this list, also features a lion-like mane, which has prompted comparisons between it and its wild cousin. A temperate and gentle cat breed, the British Longhair makes a great household pet and is best suited to life indoors.

10. Persian Cat

Persian Cat
Persian Cat | image by allen watkin via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Average Lifespan: 12-17 years
Average Size: 7-12 pounds
Coat: long

As the name implies, the Persian Cat was originally developed and bred in modern Iran, from which it has since spread across Europe through Italy, becoming a popular breed across the globe.

Known for its truncated features and wide face, the Persian’s long coat can be reminiscent of a lion’s mane, although the breed lacks other features resembling those of lions. Its soft coat makes the Persian a pleasure to hold and interact with. Considered a quiet and subdued breed, it is perhaps the most laid back and relaxed of cats that look like lions.