Ragdoll cat a glance
The Ragdoll is a beautiful cat recognised for its colourpoint coat and sapphire blue eyes. Ragdolls are one of the largest breeds of domestic cat in the cat fancy, with a large and muscular body and a longhaired coat that is silky to the touch.
The Ragdoll was developed by Ann Baker in the 1960s, and they are best known for their laid back personality which makes them a great family pet. The ragdoll name comes from their tendency to flop like a ragdoll when they are picked up.
The history of the Ragdoll cat begins in the 1960s with a white domestic longhaired cat of Persian/Angora by the name of Josephine (pictured below). Some say she belonged to Ann Baker, a Persian breeder from Riverside, California; others claim that Josephine was a feral cat who lived in a colony belonging to her neighbours, the Pennels.
What we do know is that Josephine was hit by a car, and this is where the story takes on a somewhat bizarre twist. Ann Baker took her to the veterinary hospital at the University of California, where she claims Josephine was subjected to government testing, which resulted in her being relaxed when picked up and no longer feeling pain. Ann noticed that the next litter of kittens were larger and all had the same laid-back temperament as Josephine.
Government conspiracies aside, Josephine had two boys to two fathers. Blackie, as the name would suggest, a black cat and Raggedy Ann Daddy Warbucks (Daddy Warbucks for short), who had a cream coloured coat, with dark points and white mitts. These two males are considered to be the founding fathers of the Ragdoll breed. Daddy Warbucks was mated to one of Blackie’s daughters, producing two kittens, Raggedy Ann Tiki (Tiki) and Raggedy Ann Kyoto (Kyoto). Another daughter of Josephine’s, Buckwheat was mated to Daddy Warbucks producing Fugianna.
It is Daddy Warbucks, Tiki, Kyoto and Fugianna who were registered as the first Ragdoll cats with the NCFA in 1966. Daddy Warbucks being number 1.
International Ragdoll Cat Association
During this time, several breeders became involved in breeding the Ragdoll cat, and in 1971 Ann founded the International Ragdoll Cat Association (IRCA) and placed strict rules on how Ragdoll cats could be bred. Several breeders rebelled against Ann’s strict regulations and set out to establish the breed without her involvement. Laura and Denny Dayton were a couple who decided to breed the Ragdoll cat so that other cat associations would eventually accept it and in 1975 the Ragdoll Fanciers Club International (RFCI) was formed.
In 1981, Lulu Rowley of the Petil-lu Cattery purchased four Ragdolls from the Daytons and introduced the breed to Britain.
The Ragdoll is a laid back and calm cat with a loving disposition. Despite claims made by Ann Baker that they feel no pain, this is not true. All cats feel pain, including the Ragdoll. What may be the case is that they hide it better.
Dog-like in nature, Ragdolls thrive on companionship and will greet their family at the door and follow them around the house. Ragdolls get along exceptionally well with children and other pets. It is not uncommon for Ragdolls to choose one favourite human in the family, although they will get along with everyone.
The Ragdoll is somewhat of a contradiction, both playful and relaxed at the same time. It is said that they are easy to train and enjoy playing fetch with their owners. Ragdolls are lovely lap cats and quite happy to curl up on the sofa with you. While they love to be close to their family, Ragdolls aren’t as demanding as other cat breeds.
Ragdolls make excellent apartment-dwelling cats due to their quiet and relaxed nature as well as being happy to spend time with their human companions.
Large, muscular and heavy boned. The Ragdoll can weigh between 6.5 – 8 kg (14 – 17.5 lbs) for males and females weighing slightly less at 5.5-7.5 kg (12-16.5 lbs).
The legs are in proportion to the body with substantial boning. Paws are large and round. Tufting between paw pads is desirable.
The tail should be equal length to the body, thicker at the base and tapering at the tip.
Ragdolls don’t reach full maturity until 3-4 years of age.
The head is broad and a wedge shape with well-developed cheeks, and a strong chin. Ears are medium and are set as much on the top of the head as they are on the side; they are broad at the base and round at the tip. Eyes are oval and a stunning blue colour.
The semi-longhaired coat is silky, lying smoothly on the body with a sparse undercoat. Kittens are all-white when they are born. Their mask, ears, and tail darken up later. The Ragdoll comes in three patterns, bicolour, mitted, and colour point.
Colours and patterns
The Ragdoll comes in a range of colours, including:
Ragdoll cat patterns:
- Pointed: The pointed Ragdoll has a dark face, ears, legs, feet and tail on a pale background.
- Mitted: Mitted ragdolls have white mittens on the feet and a white chin extending to the belly. Some have a white star or blaze on the nose.
- Bicolour: Dark face with a white inverted V, ears, and tail.
- Van: Dark ears and tail.
See the end of the article for photos of the different Ragdoll colours.
Choosing a Ragdoll cat
It is always best to meet the Ragdoll in person and if possible, also the parents.
Purebred Ragdolls may be ‘breeder, show or pet’ quality. A reputable breeder is just that, and should only be sold to a registered breeder. A show quality cat means it meets the standard and is an excellent example of the breed. A pet quality cat means it may have a slight fault somewhere, which is almost always cosmetic. This may be a white spot where there shouldn’t be one, a kinked tail or some other minor fault. Pet quality make great cats and cost less money than a show cat.
Ragdoll kittens shouldn’t leave their mother until they are at least twelve weeks old, by this time, they should have been wormed, vaccinated and treated for parasites. Most breeders now opt to have kittens spayed or neutered before going to their new home to prevent unwanted breeding.
Get any guarantees in writing from the breeder.
Ragdoll cat health issues
The Ragdoll is a healthy breed of cat with few health problems, but as with all breeds, Ragdolls may be at higher risk of developing certain health conditions including:
- Inherited feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM): The main feature of HCM is an excessive thickening of the left ventricular wall, papillary muscles, and septum. Enlargement of the heart wall causes stiffening of the muscle, preventing the heart from expanding to receive blood properly. As the walls thicken, the size of the heart chambers decreases resulting in less blood pumping through the heart. The heart has to work harder, beating faster to maintain blood flow throughout the body.
- Feline mucopolysaccharidosis VI: A group of lysosomal storage diseases characterised by the accumulation of mucopolysaccharides due to the impaired functions of lysosomal enzymes. Cats with MPS do not have any, or enough, of the enzymes alpha-L-iduronidase or arylsulphatase B which are needed to break down mucopolysaccharides (sugar molecule chains). Mucopolysaccharides help to build bones, cartilage, skin, tendons, corneas, and the fluid responsible for lubricating joints.
- Polycystic kidney disease: A slowly progressive disease, which causes multiple fluid-filled cysts in the kidneys. Small cysts are present from birth, slowly increasing in size. Cysts can range from very small to several centimetres in diameter. The increasing size of the cysts damages the normal kidney tissue, eventually causing kidney failure.
There are genetic tests for the hypertrophic cardiomyopathy mutation, polycystic kidney disease and mucopolysaccharidosis, always ask the breeder if they test their cats.
Coat: The sparse undercoat makes the Ragdoll cat’s coat makes it less likely to form mats compared to other longhaired breeds, however, Ragdoll cats can still benefit from a brush two to three times a week.
Claws: Trim the front claws every 4-6 weeks. Both grooming and claw trimming should begin in kittenhood so that your cat becomes accustomed to it from a young age.
Safety: Due to their friendly and trusting nature, Ragdolls should not be allowed to free roam, the best compromise is to provide a safe cat enclosure. Provide your Ragdoll with a tall scratching post to climb and burn off some energy.
Teeth: Dental care is essential to prevent gum disease which impacts not only the teeth but the cat’s overall health. Brush teeth daily with a cat toothbrush and toothpaste (don’t use human toothpaste), or give him chunks of human-grade steak or chicken necks 2-3 times a week.
Feeding: Feed a premium cat food suitable for the cat’s age. Kittens should eat kitten food until they are twelve months of age, and can be slowly introduced to premium adult cat food.
An annual health check is essential for all cats which should increase to twice a year for cats over seven.
Frequently asked questions
How long do Ragdoll cats live? The Ragdoll lives between 12-15 years.
Are Ragdoll cats hypoallergenic? No, the Ragdoll is not hypoallergenic.
Why do Ragdoll cats go limp? The Ragdoll goes limp because it is a laid back breed of cat.
Do Ragdoll cats feel pain? Yes, Ragdoll cats feel pain just like any other cat.
Are Ragdoll cats high maintenance? The Ragdoll is not an overly high-maintenance cat, however, their long coat will need to be brushed once a day to prevent mats from forming. Due to their friendly personality, the Ragdoll does not like to be left alone for extended periods.