5 Things to Know About Ragdolls

Ragdoll cats are intelligent and family-friendly, and they go limp when held, an attribute they were named after.

Ragdolls love playing fetch. By: iStock.com/CasarsaGuru

1. Key Characteristics

  • Weight: 15–20 pounds for males, 10–15 pounds for females
  • Life Expectancy: 15–20 years, on average (if kept indoors)

Ragdolls are large cats, one of the largest of all cat breeds. They have a sturdy build and large blue eyes. The medium-length coat is pointed; the body is lighter in color than the face, legs, tail and ears.

The soft and silky hair comes in 3 patterns: colorpoint (no white), bicolor and mitted. Coat colors include chocolate, seal, blue, fawn, cinnamon, lilac, cream and red; there are also tortoiseshell or tabby variations.

2. Where They Came From

The Ragdoll cat breed began in Riverside, California, in the 1960s.

Ann Baker had a domestic, longhaired white cat named Josephine. The cat had normal litters of kittens — until, one day, she was hit by a car.

Baker insisted Josephine’s genes were altered when she received veterinary care because her later litters had personalities described as limp and more affectionate in comparison to her earlier kittens.

Baker’s eccentricity over the years became too much for the breeders who franchised under her to produce Ragdolls, so breeders Denny and Laura Dayton broke off and sought to preserve the affectionate cats. They were credited with getting the Ragdoll cat breed recognized by all major cat breed registries.

Ragdolls are pretty chill — in fact, they’re known to lie limp often. By: iStock.com/GlobalP

3. How Friendly Are They?

Ragdoll cats are so named because of their ability to lie limp or completely relaxed when they are picked up, similar to carrying a doll.

They are usually relaxed, happy, friendly, quiet and loving cats who enjoy cuddling. They are tolerant of other animals and children.

They are intelligent; you can teach them to fetch and to come. Always willing to play, they often act similar to dogs in the way they greet you at the door or follow you from room to room throughout the house.

4. Is This the Right Cat for You?

Exercise Needs

Medium

MEDIUM: Most ragdolls enjoy playing fetch, similar to Russian Blue and Manx cats. Give them a scratching post and keep them indoors.

Regulate their food intake; obesity may be a problem with these cats. Ragdolls don’t have specific exercise needs in addition to those of regular cats.

Grooming Needs

Medium

MEDIUM: Brush or comb Ragdolls weekly with a steel comb. They don’t shed much, except perhaps during spring and fall, when you should brush them more to prevent matting, especially where the legs meet the body. Note that Ragdolls who are spayed or neutered may not have significant fluctuations in shedding or coat changes

As with all cats, trim the nails and brush their teeth regularly. Bathe them, check and clean their ears regularly, and use separate cloths to clean each eye to reduce the risk of spreading infection.

Health Problems

Medium

MEDIUM: Common health problems that appear in Ragdolls cats include:

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (heart disease)
  • Bladder stones
  • Feline infectious peritonitis
  • Feline mucopolysaccharidosis (a disease that can cause eye problems, joint difficulties or paralysis)

You might be able to test your Ragdoll for some of these conditions.

Ragdoll cats can also experience growth spurts, so keep food available at all times until they reach maturity (around 4 years of age).

This video shows a Ragdoll cat being held and going limp, something they are known for and named after:

5. Where to Adopt One

Purebred cats end up in shelters and rescues all the time. Check these resources first, and you can also use our adoptable pet page (select the “cat” tab).

If you decide to contact a breeder, get to know the breeder before choosing a Ragdoll kitten or cat. Be aware of the warning signs of puppy mills, because the same red flags occur in kitten mills.

Ask the breeder to provide health certificates, clearances or test results for the health conditions that normally affect Ragdoll cats.

Additional Resources

Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, is an author, poet and pet lover from Louisiana. She is the author of the book One Unforgettable Journey, which was nominated for a Maxwell Award from the Dog Writers Association of America, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show. In addition, she was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. Kristine has been researching and writing about pet behaviors and care for many years, with her articles appearing in various publications. She is the CEO of a large mental health practice in Louisiana and holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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