AT A GLANCE: The Ragdoll cat
- Laid back, sweet, docile
- Large, muscular build
- Bright blue eyes
- Semi-long hair in six point colors
- Average lifespan of 12 to 15 years
Physical characteristics of the Ragdoll cat
There is some mystery surrounding the true origin of the breed, but it is generally accepted that Ragdolls were developed by Ann Baker of Riverside, California, in the 1960s. The foundation cat was a semi-feral, long-haired white female (some say she was a Turkish Angora-type cat) named Josephine, who produced affectionate, docile kittens who had a tendency to go limp when handled.
Ragdoll cats are large with well-balanced features. They have a heavy bone structure, which lends to their hardy appearance, and their bodies are firm and muscular with very little fat.
Ragdolls have a semi-long, plush coat that comes in six colors: seal, blue, chocolate, lilac, red, and cream, and there are at least four patterns: bi-color, van, mitted, and colorpoint. Points are partially overlaid with white in the bi-color, mitted, and van patterns. Don’t expect your Ragdoll kitten to be fully colored, however, as they can take up to three years to develop their full coat color. They have clearly defined masks that cover the entire face, and striking, crystal-blue eyes.
Personality and temperament of the Ragdoll cat
Ragdolls are as sweet as cats come. They are an affectionate breed, and they often prefer the company of their owners to that of other cats in the house. Ragdolls will greet you at the door when you arrive home, and they are eager to settle down on your lap for a nap or sleep at your feet in bed.
An intelligent breed, Ragdolls are easily trained and well-behaved. Ragdolls are mellow, but they are always up for some playtime, and make ideal playmates for children because they tend to play with their claws retracted.
Common health concerns for the Ragdoll catRagdolls are often healthy cats, with an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years. Like any other breed of cat, some inherited conditions are more common than others. Responsible breeders will be forthcoming with information about the health of their breeding stock, and many will perform DNA tests to look for Ragdoll breed-specific mutations. Common health concerns for Ragdolls include:
Feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
Feline HCM is the most common cardiac disease to affect cats. HCM causes the muscular heart walls to become thickened, making it difficult for the heart to pump efficiently. HCM can lead to congestive heart failure, fatal arrhythmias, and blood clots, and sudden death can occur with no previous signs of heart disease.
Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)
PKD is a common inherited condition in cats. PKD typically affects both kidneys, where it causes multiple cysts that grow continuously during the cat’s life. Over time, the cysts become so large that they replace the majority of the normal kidney tissue, resulting in kidney failure.
This rare, immune-mediated disease occurs in newborn kittens. When kittens with Type A blood nurse from a mother with Type B blood, maternal antibodies to the kitten’s red blood cells cause them to be destroyed. Neonatal isoerythrolysis leads to anemia (low numbers of red blood cells). Affected kittens are born healthy, but fail to thrive.
Other health concerns may include:
- Diabetes mellitus
- Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD)
Caring for the Ragdoll cat
Ragdolls have semi-long hair that needs daily brushing to avoid matting. Fortunately, these lap cats love being brushed. Ragdolls will spend much of the day grooming themselves, so bathing is rarely needed. Like other cats, Ragdolls appreciate a clean litter box, and should be provided with at least one litter box per household cat, plus one extra box.
The Ragdoll is a laid-back but playful cat. Providing mental and physical stimulation, including engaging toys, climbing towers, and scratching posts, will make for a happier cat and may help avoid behavior problems.
Cats need at-home dental care. Brush your Ragdoll’s teeth with a pet-specific toothpaste daily, and have his oral health evaluated at least annually by your veterinarian. Training your Ragdoll while he’s still a kitten will make lifelong dental care a breeze.
The Ragdoll is the perfect cat for you if:
- You want a lap cat
- You want a cat who prefers to be by your side when you are home
- You are a single owner looking for companionship
- You have a family with respectful children
- Your household contains other cats or dogs
- You have time to devote to daily grooming