Cat Breed Profile: Ragdoll

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

Cats love boxes. By: Kent Wang
Cats love boxes. By: Kent Wang

Breed

Ragdoll

Physical Description

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, red and can have tortoiseshell or tabby variations.

Males weight between 15 and 20 pounds, while their slightly smaller female counterparts weigh 10 to 15 pounds. The average life expectancy of a ragdoll is 15 to 20 years if kept indoors. Outside cats usually have much shorter life spans since they are exposed to the elements and other animals.

Origin

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 prior to being hit by a car. Baker insisted Josephine’s genes were 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 they broke off and sought to preserve the affectionate cats. Denny and Laura Dayton were breeders who broke away from Baker and were accredited with getting the ragdoll cat breed recognized by all major cat breed registries.

Purpose

Ragdoll cats are companion pets and may participate in conformation (cat shows).

Temperament

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, even when being dressed up and carried around.

They are intelligent and can be taught to fetch and to come when called. They are always willing to play and said to act similar to dogs in the way they will greet you at the door or follow you around room to room throughout the house. Each cat’s personality is unique, but these characteristics are commonly seen in ragdoll cats.

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

Exercise Needs

Most ragdolls enjoy playing fetch similar to Russian Blue and Manx cats. They should have a scratching post and be kept indoors instead of being declawed. Food intake should be regulated and monitored to prevent obesity. Ragdoll cats don’t have specific exercise needs in addition to those of regular cats. Their physical activity should be similar to that of their feline counterparts (sleeping long hours, playing, running and jumping).

Grooming Requirements

Ragdolls can be brushed or combed weekly with a steel comb. They do not shed much except for 2 times during the year on average (usually spring and fall). Extra brushing is recommended during periods of high shedding to prevent matting with special attention given to the areas where the legs meet the body.

Nail trimming should be done as needed, and the teeth should be brushed regularly.

Ragdolls who are spayed or neutered may not have significant fluctuations in shedding or coat changes. They should be bathed when needed. The ears should also be checked and cleaned regularly. Use separate cloths to clean each eye to reduce the risk of spreading infection.

Common Health Problems

All cats have regular health concerns, such as maintaining a healthy weight and hairballs (except the few hairless breeds).

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)

Testing is possible for some conditions; these can be done if the cat is ill or be performed by a breeder prior to breeding or selling a kitten. Ragdoll cats can also have rapid periods of growth (growth spurts) and should have food available at all times until the cat reaches maturity (around 4 years of age).

Ragdoll cats have darker colors on their points. By: fragment.fi
Ragdoll cats have darker colors on their points. By: fragment.fi

Is the Ragdoll the Right Cat for You?

Ragdoll cats are great for families. They enjoy being around other cat-tolerant animals and are friendly. With children they are calm and submissive, not even balking at being dressed up and carried around. They are intelligent and can be taught to come on command and fetch with toys.

Having a ragdoll cat can be much like having a dog. They like to greet their humans at the door and have been known to follow them around similar to a puppy. Ragdolls can remain active and playful until they reach maturity at 4 years of age.

Grooming responsibilities in this breed are not too demanding, although extra brushing is necessary if the coat excessively sheds twice per year — which usually happens in the spring and fall.

There are a few health problems common in the breed, and testing is available to determine the presence of some of them. A proper diet, exercise and routine veterinary care will ensure your ragdoll remains healthy.

If you are looking for a friendly, family-oriented cat, the ragdoll might be the perfect choice for your next family addition.

Adopt, Don’t Buy

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 do 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

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