Meet Fenrir, the friendly feline who has officially been named the world’s tallest living domestic cat, as confirmed by Guinness World Records. With this title under his belt, this cat can certainly stand tall. But there’s actually even more for him to be proud of. The almost 3-year-old kitty is a beloved therapy cat.
Fenrir’s human, Dr. William Powers from Farmington Hills in Michigan, is a family physician and HIV specialist with his own medical practice where the cat works as a therapy animal. He adopted Fenrir when he was just 12 weeks old. Though his record-setting height has been a bit of a surprise, it was already known that the cat would get bigger because of his breed. Fenrir is an F2 Savannah Cat—a cross between a domestic cat and an African serval—a breed that became popular at the end of the 1990s and was recognized by The International Cat Association (TICA) in 2001.
Fenrir, who is of the F2 generation, has a serval grandparent and is the offspring of the F1 generation female. Fenrir’s grandfather—a serval named Kongo—was a tall wild cat that provided the genetics for his astonishing height. Even with this impressive heritage, Fenrir is tall for his breed. He’s 18.83 inches (47.83 centimeters) tall, while the average is typically 14 to 17 inches tall.
Dr. Powers tells My Modern Met that people often complain about the records being unfair, because Fenrir is a Savannah cat. “Guinness’ rules are for any cat to compete in a cat record, the cat must be a recognized breed by The International Cat Association. Under TICA's laws, only F2 Savannah cats and below (f3/f4/f5) are considered domestic breed cats. F1 hybrids are not,” Powers says. As a result, Fenrir, being an F2, is allowed to compete for that record. In fact, that record’s history has always been held by a Savannah cat. “Guinness used to measure the heaviest cat, but people were force-feeding their cats to make them fat, and so they switched to tallest in order to get a biggest cat record,” explains Powers.
But regardless of breaking a record, Fenrir is a champ to Powers, who often took him out as a kitten, and made sure that he was well socialized with humans. Most cats live life on their own terms, offering a sleepy indifference to human demands; but, Fenrir is different. As a result of being handled frequently, Fenrir developed into a friendly kitty with a very loving personality. Powers and Fenrir have used the cat’s status as a world record holder to help raise funds for animals in need—specifically, shelter cats. “I was president of a cat shelter for years,” Dr. Powers explains, “and I still work with multiple cat shelters. Fenrir makes appearances at the events and people pay a couple dollars to take a picture with him.” The money raised through these photo ops are then donated to the shelters. “I couldn’t be prouder of Fenrir,” Dr. Powers admits on Instagram. “Not because he has a Guinness World Record or is the tallest living cat, but because he is an exceptionally loving animal.”
It is this loving nature that has led Fenrir to his second extraordinary achievement—his role as therapy cat in Dr. Powers’ medical practice. Fenrir and his other cats play a large part in the experience Powers offers to his patients as a family therapist and his work with HIV patients. “This guy follows me room to room, hops up on the exam table when I greet the patient, and gets to work on making them feel safe and comfortable,” Powers explains. Sometimes, patients even request to see Fenrir as part of their consultation, and he offers a calming presence and a soft and comforting distraction when Powers has to give a difficult diagnosis. “He is definitely the most popular therapy cat in my practice,” Powers admits. “People often ask me to go get him and bring him into the room if he doesn't choose to follow me in, as I move from patient room to patient room all morning.”
Powers puts a lot of time and effort into the six cats that currently live with him. They can frolic outdoors in a large enclosure, and he ensures each of his pets gets one-on-one time with him. He believes in early socialization and on-going enrichment activities. He has also developed a delectable menu. The high nutrition grub includes ground-up pig bones, raw chicken, slow-cooked meats, krill oil, and multivitamins and supplements. Through his time and attention and this unique diet, Powers has accidentally raised some exceptional cats.
Aside from Fenrir, Fenrir’s late brother Arcturus, who was 19.05 inches (48.38 centimeters), held the same Guinness World Record, and also has the record for the tallest cat ever. Powers’ late cat Cygnus holds the Guinness World Record for the longest tail on a domestic cat ever. Sadly, both these animals passed away in a fire that also nearly claimed Powers’ life. Powers now has Altair, the brother of Cygus, who also just received the world record for the longest tail on a living cat. All of Powers’ current felines, including Fenrir with his unique character and exuberant personality, have helped with the healing process after the devastating losses that Powers experienced from the fire.
“Fenrir is a big, silly cat,” Powers happily exclaims. “He gets the zoomies almost like a dog, and will run all around a room carrying a toy mouse or some other toy in his mouth. He absolutely loves ‘rough play.’ We have a game where he will chase me into the bedroom, then he will get into sort of a ‘downward pointing dog’ position. I then grab his front legs and literally fling him head over heels onto the bed. Sometimes he lands upright, sometimes he goes tumbling, but as soon as he rights himself, he runs right off the bed and right back to me to be thrown again.”
Outside of playtime, Fenrir is an exceptionally chilled and affectionate cat. He loves people, and will walk up to strangers to greet them and “bunt” them by rubbing his head against them. “Fenrir’s story is literally all over the world right now,” Powers says. But it’s not just the special achievements of Fenrir that are grabbing people’s attention. It’s the passion that Powers has for his precious felines, the unique service he offers to his HIV patients, and the amazing healing connections and relationships that are the result.