Ragdoll Cat: Breed Profile, Characteristics & Care
The ragdoll cat is a large, affectionate cat that goes with the flow. Ragdolls are ideal lap cats because they simply go limp with pleasure when they are being petted, giving them their name. This cat breed is one of the largest, but don’t let the size intimidate you. Their big blue eyes and loud, throaty purr let you know they’re just big softies. Ragdolls are notoriously social, making them a good fit for bustling homes with plenty of people and friendly pets.
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Ragdoll Cat Characteristics
The big, beautiful ragdoll cat does not reach its full size, about 15 pounds on average, until about four years of age. With its easygoing personality and social temperament, the ragdoll is ready to be friends with just about anyone. Prepare your lap for extended cuddling sessions in which your ragdoll will flop like a mop across your legs and expect enthusiastic belly rubs. The ragdoll does not need a lot of exercise or rambunctious play time, but snuggle time is essential.
History of the Ragdoll Cat
The ragdoll cat breed is relatively new. It was developed in California in the 1960s. A cat breeder named Ann Baker wanted to create a beautiful cat with a loving personality. She started by breeding a domestic long-haired, white cat of unknown origin named Josephine with several Burmese-like cats.
Though it took a few generations, Baker eventually produced the first cats she called ragdolls. These cats were appreciated for their non-matting fur, large size, and outgoing personalities.
The Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) began registering ragdolls in 1993. Ragdolls are consistently one of the most popular cat breeds registered by the CFA.
Ragdoll Cat Care
The ragdoll has a silky single coat (meaning that it doesn’t have an under-layer of fur). It’s meant to be lower-matting than other medium-haired cat coats. This breed still benefits from brushing at least twice a week to help avoid tangles.
Since ragdolls don’t have an undercoat, the amount of shedding and dander production is lower than that of heavier coated breeds. However, many people are still allergic to saliva and skin secretions from cats, and ragdolls produce these allergens, so they are not considered hypoallergenic.
Like all other cats, ragdolls also generally need nail trims. Keep in mind that your cat will probably want to sharpen its claws even more than normal after a pedicure, so be sure to provide good scratching posts.
Ragdolls are moderately energetic, social cats. They enjoy regular playtime using wands or other interactive cat toys. Most also benefit from being fed out of a feline puzzle feeder for mental stimulation. Don’t just leave toys around for your kitty, though, as it’s best to get up and play together. This will help keep your cat’s weight down, avoid behavior concerns caused by boredom, and build bonds within the family.
Common Health Problems
Like many large breed cats, ragdolls are prone to weight issues.2 Feeding your cat out of puzzle toys and portioning out its daily food can help keep your cat fit and trim. Giving your cat regular play is also important for weight management. While chubby cats might be cute, they’re not healthy.
They’re vulnerable to bladder stones, which are painful and cause blood in the urine. Signs include vocalizing (crying) in the litter box, straining to urinate, or urinating outside the litter box.3 You can help your kitty avoid bladder stones and other urinary infections by encouraging it to drink lots of fresh water and scheduling regular checkups with your veterinarian.
Ragdolls are also prone to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a condition that is difficult to prevent.4 HCM is a heart disease that causes thickening of the heart muscle. An echocardiogram can help diagnose the problem, but only after the cat has developed HCM. Genetic testing can also help breeders avoid breeding cats with HCM, but it’s always a risk, and there is no cure once a cat develops HCM.
Purebred ragdoll kittens are born solid white due to a genetic mutation. Their coats begin to develop colors and patterns around two months of age but don’t fully develop their coloration for about two years.
A ragdoll’s medium-length coat is silky-soft and often compared to rabbit fur. It is considered a “pointed breed,” meaning its body is lighter colored than its points (face, ears, legs, and tail). Its fur is somewhat longer and thicker around its neck, giving the appearance of a mane. Their ears are relatively small and slightly rounded.
These large cats are not overly muscled; they are rather soft and quite flexible.
Diet and Nutrition
Work with your vet to develop a diet appropriate for your ragdoll’s age and activity level. Wet foods help provide moisture that can help prevent urinary issues.5 Be sure to ration the food, and don’t leave it out in your cat’s bowl all day. Leaving food out could lead to overeating and obesity, a risk factor for diabetes in cats.6
Where to Adopt or Buy a Ragdoll Cat
Take the time to get to know the breeder and the breed before making your purchase. The breeder can also help you get to know the breed and ensure that a ragdoll is right for you. You can start withThe Cat Fanciers Association to perform a breeder referral search.
If you prefer to adopt from a rescue organization, check out local adoption venues and you may be lucky enough to find a ragdoll waiting for a new home. You might also explore Ragdoll Rescue USA/International.
Ragdoll Cat Overview
If you love the idea of a soft, docile, cuddly cat, then the ragdoll would make a wonderful addition to your household. Ragdolls get along with friendly people of all ages and other pets, too. They enjoy playing, but they are equally happy to just curl up and snuggle. These special cats are as beautiful as they are personable, so they are pretty much purrfect!
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