Is this a cat that resembles a ragdoll? Not at all! The Ragdoll is an ideal cat breed for lovers of Siamese, Colourpoint and other pointed cat breeds. These gentle giants will win you over not only with their beautiful coat, extraordinary colour and bright blue eyes…
What are the origins of the Ragdoll cat?
The human-loving Ragdoll is a relatively young cat breed, with origins dating back only as far as the 1960s. The founder and first breeder of the Ragdoll was cat-loving Ann Baker from California. With the help of a cat from the litter of an “Angora-like” cat named Josephine and an unknown female, she established a breeding line. Ann Baker’s kittens are said to have complied with today’s breeding standards for Ragdolls: tall, with a half-length coat and beautiful blue eyes. She also provided the name “Ragdoll”, as she felt these cats relax as soon as they were hugged, just like they were fabric dolls. The perfect name for this extremely relaxed cat breed!
As often happens in breeding circles, however, there were problems. When Ann Baker patented the name “Ragdoll” and took fees for any cats bred from her line, many breeders split from this original Ragdoll line, which changed the breed into how we know it today. The Ragdoll is not only a very young breed, but is also the first cat breed for which a patent has ever been registered.
What does the Ragdoll breed look like?
The large Ragdoll cat breed has a broad chest, strong appearance and muscular body, with its soft coat standing out above all of these characteristics. The medium-long fur has a silky structure and just a small amount of undercoat that rests on its body. It gives the animal the appearance of a cuddly toy, which is reinforced by the ruff of fur around its neck. The Ragdoll has a medium-sized, wedge-shaped head, with rounded, widely spaced ears. The legs are slightly longer at the back, resulting in a subtly sloping back line. It is a medium breed, with females weighing up to 6.5kg and males up to 9.5kg. They have a shoulder height of up to 40cm and can reach a length of 1.2m from the nose to the tip of the tail.
The large, round, bright blue eyes are the hallmark of this breed, as is its special colouring. The Ragdoll is a “pointed” cat, like the Siamese breed, meaning that its natural coat colour is only visible on the tips of its body. A white design hides the colouring in the middle of the body. Any of the typical Ragdoll coat colours can occur in this pointed manner, including seal, blue, chocolate, lilac and, more recently, red and cream.
It should be noted that, as pointed cats, Ragdolls are born white and only develop their final colour after three or four years.
The silky fur of the Ragdoll is medium-long, with a small amount of undercoat that is easy to care for. Each cat is different, with each owner having different opinions about cat hair falling onto clothes or furniture, but it will generally be enough to brush a Ragdoll just once a week, and more regularly if needed during a coat change.
In which colour variants can you find the Ragdoll cat breed?
Here you will find a basic summary of the main colourings in which you can find the Ragdoll cat breed:
- Seal-point: this colouring features a black base colour that only shows at the “cold” tips of the body.
- Blue-point: blue is a dilution of the black base colour.
- Chocolate-Point: this Ragdoll shows an attractive brown base colour, again only visible at the tips.
- Lilac-Point: the dilution of the brown base is known as this “lilac” colour.
- Red-Point: as the name suggests, a red point patterning.
- Cream-Point: the red dilution results in this cream colouring. A cream-point Ragdoll can appear almost monochrome due to the similarity in the tips and the overall white pattern!
- Tabby: the points also feature a stripe, similar to that of a Tabby cat. This stripe is often visible on the legs as well as on the tail, with the eyes outlined in black resembling kohl eyeliner. The Tabby patterning in a Ragdoll is often referred to as “Lynx”.
- Tortie: the Tortie Ragdoll has a tortoiseshell pattern at the point tips. The colour pattern itself is very different, with dots of colour appearing in any size, but breeders tend to prefer small, evenly distributed spots.
- Torbie: this is acombination of the Tabby and Tortoiseshell patterns, with the Tortoiseshell colouring appearing striped – a very interesting Ragdoll colour!
The official colour and pattern variations in Ragdolls are called Colourpoint, Mitted, Bicolour, Tabby, Tortie and Torbie.
- Colourpoint: these cats show a full mask, as with other pointed cat breeds.
- Mitted: these Ragdolls have a white chin and often a white strip on the nose, as well as the point markings. The pads of the paws are pink, with white “gloves” as well as “boots” on the hind legs.
- Bicolour: this variation has a clear point design but with a lighter base colour. There is also a mask with an inverted “V” that starts on the forehead and ends at the base of the tail, with white legs.
What kind of character does the Ragdoll have?
Lovers of the Ragdoll breed are not only enthralled by its extraordinary appearance by big blue eyes, but also by its sociable nature. These cats are considered gentle and good-natured, as well as being peaceful and eager to learn. However, they also have a cuddly, playful side and like to follow their human being in every step it takes - many breeders even refer to this breed as a “dog in cat form”! Ragdolls fully embrace their human family, although a feline playmate never goes amiss! Cats have long been creatures that are happy in their own company, but sociable breeds such as the Ragdoll can benefit from living with another cat.
These gentle creatures are also ideal for keeping as indoor cats, preferably with access to a cat-proof balcony or secure windows. You should also ensure that your housecat is kept physically and mentally occupied around the home! Essentially this means you should never skimp on playing with your Ragdoll. A cat-friendly home should offer plenty of space to hide, rest, play and explore, even if your house is not the biggest. Intelligent climbing options such as a tall cat tree or window loungers offer your cat a “third dimension”, which can be ideal for napping, watching the world go by, climbing or playing, depending on its mood.
Are there any health issues associated with this breed?
The Ragdoll is generally considered to be a breed that is free from complicated problems. All animals will show a predisposition to certain inheritable diseases and line breeding can increase that risk, with Ragdolls being no exception. Despite being robust and healthy overall, this breed has a tendency to bladder stones and a heart condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This is considered to be the most common form of heart disease in felines, caused by a thickening of the heart muscle, and can be diagnosed using a heart ultrasound. There is also a genetic test for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which can allow responsible breeders to exclude affected animals from breeding. However, there is no guarantee that hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can be completely ruled out of a breeding line. Therefore, breeders should be sure to have their pets examined by a veterinarian early on to help prevent them passing on the disease to any offspring.
What kind of diet does a Ragdoll need?
As a large cat breed, the Ragdoll can go through many violent growth spurts while it is a kitten. This means that a species-appropriate, high-quality diet is essential in helping your cat to grow up healthy! Your kitten should be allowed to eat as much as it wants during its growth phase, which can last for the first four years. Once your Ragdoll is fully-grown, you can adapt its feeding levels to help avoid any unwanted weight gain.
Whether you choose to feed a raw food diet, home-cooked nutrition or a top-quality dish from a reliable manufacturer, the right food for your cat will always be rich in premium protein. Wet food should be the first choice if your cat is prone to kidney or urinary stones, as it contains plenty of moisture.
How do I care for my Ragdoll?
The Ragdoll cat has a medium-long coat that is easy to keep clean, thanks to its lack of undercoat. However, weekly grooming is still recommended and will be a much more enjoyable process if you get your cat used to it while it is still a kitten. In the beginning, try treating your cat during and after grooming sessions to help ease any uncertainty or anxiety – although very few Ragdolls have a problem with being extensively brushed and cuddled by their humans! You may even find that this breed actively enjoys a grooming session and will take full advantage of it. Even with regular brushing and combing, loose hairs will often find their way into your cat’s digestive tract, so when your cat’s coat is changing you should offer cat grass, special treats or malt pastes to help move swallowed hairs through the system. These little extras can be particularly useful if your cat is constipated!
How do I choose the right breeder?
The increased occurrence of hereditary diseases in pedigree cats highlights the importance of choosing the right breeder. A professional breeder will see its cats as part of the family, taking full responsibility for all parent cats and offspring. This includes the thoughtful pairing of cats, good health care, and a species-appropriate environment and nutrition. A good breeder will not let kittens move to their new home before they are at least 12 weeks old, as they need at least three months to learn everything they need from their mother and siblings. This phase is both exciting and exhausting, for the mother cat as well as the breeder! In order to allow kittens to be properly socialised whilst with their mother, there should be a significant gap between litters, so a responsible breeder will often avoid offering multiple litters or breeds at the same time – despite being potentially financially lucrative for a breeder, it is not the best option for the wellbeing of the cats! Naturally, this all comes at a price, with pedigree cats from breeders costing upwards of £700 – purchasing a kitten from a pet owner rather than a breeder can be marginally cheaper, but you should still expect to pay over £400.
If you are thinking of purchasing a “pedigree cat without papers” through the local classifieds or an auction website, be warned: a Ragdoll kitten is worth its high price. Once you factor in the costs incurred by a breeder during the first three months of a cat’s life, including food costs and veterinary visits for both mother and kitten, the price of the cat will rarely make a dent. A breeder will also be paying to be a member of a breed association, as well as paying a fee to issue the pedigree papers.
Breeding is an expensive hobby and anyone offering a supposedly pedigree cat without any papers must be cutting costs somewhere in the breeding process. Without the supervision of a breeding association, they may be pairing cats irresponsibly, without taking the necessary precautions to exclude hereditary diseases. It is also likely that such a breeder will be offering several litters simultaneously, potentially overworking the mother cats. Make sure you do your research and do not be seduced by a low price.
If you have your heart set on a Ragdoll but cannot afford the cost of a pedigree kitten from a breeder, you may be able to find this breed in your local animal shelter. Here you will find plenty of wonderful cats looking for a loving new home, including many pedigree cats! Many breeders will also offer older animals or those excluded from breeding for just a small fee. The Ragdoll is a wonderful, human-loving breed that will win you over with its cuddly appearance and easy character. We hope you enjoy your Ragdoll!