With their silky, plush, long-haired coat, Ragdoll cats are the types of furry friends you want to endlessly cuddle with while you stare into their striking blue eyes.
That’s why it’s no surprise that Ragdoll cats are some of the most sought-after pedigree breeds in relation to their feline counterparts. They’re also some of the largest cat breeds—so there’s plenty to snuggle with!
Read on for a complete guide to Ragdoll breed cats, from their humble beginnings to their care-taking needs. We have everything you need to make your Ragdoll cat’s life a happy one.
Breed Overview: Ragdoll Cats
Here’s a quick overview of this friendly feline breed:
- Weight – Males weigh 10 to 20 pounds, while females weigh 10 to 15 pounds
- Height – 11 to 14 inches
- Coat – Semi-long and silky, with colors ranging from brown to red
- Eye Color – Oval-shaped, vivid blue
- Life Expectancy – 13 to 16 years
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Ragdoll Cat Characteristics: The Basics
Ragdolls are the sweethearts of the feline animal kingdom, but that’s not all that’s special about this breed. Take a look at a few of the Ragdoll cat’s defining characteristics:
- Affection – High
- Friendliness – High
- Kid-friendly – Medium
- Pet-friendly – High
- Energy level – Medium
- Obedience – High
- Intelligence – High
- Shedding – Medium
Ragdoll Cat Fun Facts
For a brief introduction on the Ragdoll cat breed, get acquainted with this snuggly breed with a few interesting facts:
- Ragdoll cats have dog-like personalities—there’s a reason they’re so loyal and playful!
- They’re known to be a pretty quiet breed, sometimes refusing to show signs of distress or pain.
- These cats are born pure white and their coats slowly become darker as they age.
- Ragdoll cats typically live longer than other cat breeds (which means more time for you to enjoy your wonderful fuzzy companion).
The History of Ragdoll Cats
The origin story of the Ragdoll cat begins not too far from modern times.
During the 1960s, a breeder in California bred the Ragdoll from her band of free-roaming cats. But the star of the litter was the mother of all Ragdolls (literally)—Josephine.
Josephine was a beautiful, long-haired feline with an incredibly pleasant temperament who gave birth to a litter of beautiful, sweet-natured kittens. From that point, Josephine was bred with other pleasantly tempered cats to create what is now the Ragdoll cat breed.
In 1993, the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) registered the Ragdoll cat as an official pedigree breed and were quickly deemed champion cats by nearly every North American cat association.
The Physical Characteristics of Ragdoll Cats
The Ragdoll cat is a pointed breed, meaning that its body is lighter in color than its face, legs, tails, and ears—or its “points”—which are often dark brown or black. According to CFA Ragdoll standards, the ideal Ragdoll cat is well-balanced with no extreme features.
The ears of Ragdoll cats are wide with rounded tips and their tails are often long and full of fluff.
The coat of Ragdoll cats is often snow-white and soft, much like rabbit fur, with distinct fluff around their neck.
Additionally, their coat is semi-long and often takes up to three years to mature, meaning their physical characteristics—such as white overlay patterns or spotting—may take a while to fully develop. Their coat is generally characterized by six possible colors:
When it comes to the color pattern, Ragdoll cats most often exhibit four distinct designs:
- Bi-color pattern – Bi-color Ragdolls often have darker colors on their back, ears, tail, and face with distinct inverted “V” markings between the eyes. The underside of the cat is white, as well as its legs and paws. The nose and paw pads are pink.
- Van pattern – Often less popular than bi-color Ragdolls, van patterns exhibit coloring on the face, ears, and tail. However, according to CFA standards, the body, legs, and feet must be pure white with little to no dark spotting. The nose and paw pads are pink.
- Colorpoint pattern – A classical pattern, colorpoint Ragdolls often exhibit dark coloring on the ears, face, feet, and tail. The nose and paw pads are often the same color as the points. The chest and chin are lighter in shade, while the nose and paw pads are fully pigmented.
- Mitted pattern – Mitted ragdoll patterns are very similar to colorpoint patterns. One difference is that the chin and paws of mitted Ragdolls are bright white. Additionally, the face can often have a white marking in the shape of a star, diamond, hourglass, or line. Their noses often match the pigmentation of their points and their paw pads are pink.
The eyes of Ragdoll cats are often large and oval-shaped with a vivid blue hue in the iris. When submitted to CFA analysis, Ragdoll cats can be penalized for very pale blue or very dark blue eyes.
Ragdoll cats are large and powerfully built, sometimes weighing up to 25 pounds. However, the average male Ragdoll cat size often weighs between 10 and 20 pounds, while the average female weighs slightly lighter—anywhere from 10 to 15 pounds.
Ragdoll Domestic Cat Personality and Behavioral Characteristics
Ragdoll cats are social and affectionate, often preferring to stay close to their favorite humans.
Oftentimes, if you leave, you’ll find your Ragdoll cat waiting for you at the door when you return. They’re also known to follow their owners around the house, savoring every sweet second with their loved ones.
Many Ragdoll cats also love to be babied and enjoy being held in your arms for long periods of time—they even like to be rocked to sleep on occasion!
Overall, Ragdoll cats are effortless companions with many exceptional characteristics, such as:
How to Care for a Ragdoll Cat
Being a Ragdoll owner can be a big responsibility, not only do you have to provide them with the proper grooming, exercise, and diet, but you also must provide them with buckets full of love each and every day.
When caring for a purebred Ragdoll cat, it’s important to keep in mind that Ragdolls need a considerable amount of maintenance to upkeep their silky, soft coat.
Luckily, Ragdolls don’t have an underlayer coat, meaning that these indoor cats are less prone to matting. This is great news considering matting can lead to significant skin discomfort among some cats.
When grooming a Ragdoll cat, brush their fur at least twice a week to keep them polished and free of tangles. You’ll also want to clean their ears regularly. Here’s how:
- Put a drop or two of feline ear cleaner into their ears.
- Massage their ears for a couple of seconds to make sure the cleaner gets in deep.
- After five minutes, use a cotton ball to wipe out the inside of their ears.
If your cat is unlikely to enjoy an ear cleaning, temporarily distract them with a tasty treat like a chicken-flavored chew or even a fishy sardine!
Many cat breeds also need regular nail trimmings, although some cats may not be too excited about this. If you adopt your cat at a young age, get them accustomed to having their paws handled by regularly touching their paws and playing with their feet.
You can either take your cat to the groomers for a nail trim or do it at home.
If you choose to go about the nail trimming yourself:
- Retract their claws by gently pressing on the top and bottom of each foot.
- Reward your cat with a treat to keep them happy and calm (you can also wait until they’re feeling sleepy).
- Examine the nails to identify the pink, fleshy section within the nails—avoid trimming this part as it’s the nerves and blood.
- Clip no more than 1/16th of an inch of the nail, then reward your kitty with another treat.
- Continue until all 18 nails are trimmed and ready to go.
Following a nail trimming session, make sure your cat has plenty of access to a scratching post or two so they can file and sharpen their nails after the manicure.
The Ragdoll cat breed is an energetic and social type. However, they can often become overweight if not properly exercised. Obesity in cats can lead to the development of arthritis, diabetes, and other life-threatening diseases.
As such, it’s important to equip your cat’s play place with plenty of fun and exciting toys to mentally and physically stimulate your cat, including:
- Interactive toys
- Automatic laser pointers
- Puzzle feeders
But, you shouldn’t only rely on toys to keep your cat healthy and happy. Ragdoll cats are incredibly social animals who love to spend time with their humans. As such, it’s important to spend some quality time with your Ragdoll kitty by playing with them on a daily basis.
Spending time with your cat improves your bonds and may even mitigate disruptive or destructive behavior in the future, such as waking you up throughout the night or knocking over your favorite coffee mug.
Diet and Nutrition
A healthy and balanced diet is essential to the longevity and overall wellness of your Ragdoll cat. If you’re the lucky companion to a Ragdoll kitten, be sure to only feed them milk from their mother for the first four to five weeks of their lives. The milk provides your young cat with essential nutrients, as well as antibodies to fight infection or illness.
Once your cat grows older, you can start to incorporate canned or dry food into their diet. All cats require a balance of minerals, vitamins, and protein to stay healthy, so you’ll want to make sure the off-the-shelf foods and treats you buy are made with top-quality ingredients.
Generally, dry foods are best for Ragdoll cats. The dense texture exercises their jaw muscles and can also aid digestion. Additionally, wet foods contain higher amounts of fat, which may contribute to weight gain if you’re not careful.
You can also enhance your cat’s meals with:
- Cod liver oil
- Corn oil
- Flax oil
- Calcium supplements
- Vitamin E supplements
- Omega-3 supplements
- L-lysine immune support supplements
Ragdoll Cat Health Issues
Typically, Ragdoll cats have good health and a long lifespan. However, there are also a few common health problems experienced by the breed that you’ll want to be aware of:
- Obesity – As previously mentioned, Ragdoll cats are prone to big bellies because they often prefer to be sedentary, curling up with their humans on the couch. Encourage your cat to exercise by providing them with lots of toys and areas to explore within your home.
- Urinary tract infections – This is one of the most common diseases found in Ragdoll cats. Symptoms include licking of the nether regions, blood in urine, and pain when urinating.
- Digestive problems – Long-hair and semi-long hair cats tend to accumulate hair within their digestive tract, leading to digestive problems. Symptoms of gastrointestinal issues include malaise, apathy, frequent gagging, regurgitating, and vomiting.
- Kidney disease – Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic ailment that’s prevalent in Ragdoll cats and may lead to kidney failure. It’s characterized by malaise, weight loss, weakness, lethargy, frequent urination, and a high water intake.
- Cardiac disease – More specifically, feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can reduce the cardiac chamber in your cat’s heart, leading to blood clots. It’s most common in older males. Signs of heart disease include vomiting, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, lethargy, and even sudden death.
- Inbreeding – Because of the Ragdoll’s popularity, it’s quite common that Ragdoll cats are inbred. In fact, 45% of their genes come from one cat, called Daddy Warbucks. As such, cats coming from this genetic line have less genetic variation, which makes them more likely to have hereditary and degenerative diseases.
Did You Know?
Many people theorize that the cat breed Ragdoll are deaf cats, which is theorized because of their bright blue eyes. But this actually isn’t true! While deafness is more common in cats with blue eyes, the rule generally only applies to cats who are all-white. Ragdoll cats can hear and are even quite adept at being trained and learning tricks!
Care For Your Ragdoll Kitty with Pretty Litter
Becoming a Ragdoll cat owner will add a beautiful and loving addition to your home. To properly care for these sweethearts, you must pay special attention to their emotional and physical needs to keep them happy and healthy.
Enhance your kitty’s life with Pretty Litter.
Pretty Litter’s color-changing technology can alert you to potential health issues your cat may be experiencing, from urinary tract infections to kidney issues. Its silica make-up also traps strong odors so both you and your domestic cat can breathe easily.
Prestige Animal Hospital. Ragdoll. https://www.prestigeanimalhospital.com/services/cats/breeds/ragdoll
Cat Fanciers’ Association. Ragdoll. https://cfa.org/ragdoll/
Cat Fanciers’ Association. Ragdoll Standard. https://cfa.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/ragdoll-standard.pdf