Ragdoll Cat: Cat Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Closeup shot of a ragdoll cat's face

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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’re being petted, giving them their name. This cat breed is one of the largest out there, 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 to interact with.

Breed Overview

Weight: Males weigh up to 20 pounds and females weigh between 10 and 15 pounds

Length: 17 to 21 inches long (not including tail)

Coat: Medium-length and silky

Coat Color: Many different colors and patterns

Eye Color: Bright blue

Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years or more

Characteristics of the Ragdoll Cat


Affection Level

High

Friendliness

High

Kid-Friendly

Medium

Pet-Friendly

High

Exercise Needs

Medium

Playfulness

Medium

Energy Level

Low to Medium

Trainability

High

Intelligence

High

Tendency to Vocalize

Medium

Amount of Shedding

Medium

History of the Ragdoll Cat

This cat is a newer breed compared to others. The ragdoll cat breed 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 using a domestic longhaired cat of unknown origin named Josephine, the original mother cat of the breed, who was all white and bred it with a number of Burmese-like cats.

Though it took a few generations, Baker eventually produced the first cats that were called ragdolls. These cats were appreciated for their non-matting fur, large size, and outgoing personalities.

Unfortunately, Baker and some other Ragdoll fanciers parted ways in the 1970s. However, the ragdoll breed remains popular today despite the upheaval.

The Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) began registering ragdolls in 1993. Ragdolls are consistently one of the top 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 underlayer of fur). It’s meant to be lower-matting than other medium-haired cat coats. This breed still requires brushing at least twice a week to help avoid matting.

Since ragdolls don’t have an undercoat, the amount of shedding and dander is decreased. However, many people are still allergic to saliva and skin secretions from cats. Ragdolls still produce the allergens found in cat saliva and skin secretions.

Like all other cats, ragdolls also generally need toenail 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 also moderately energetic, social cats. They need regular playtime using wand toys or other interactive cat toys. Most also benefit from being fed out of a feline puzzle feeder. Don’t just leave toys around for your kitty, 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

All breeds, even mixed breeds, have the potential for genetic health issues. It’s important to know what health problems your chosen breed may be prone to developing so that you can ask the breeder about the appropriate screenings they have given their cats. Avoid any breeder who insists that their kittens don’t need health testing or health guarantees.

Like many large breed cats, Ragdolls are prone to weight issues. 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 like man cats as well as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Bladder stones are painful and signs of a bladder stone include blood in the urine, vocalizing or crying in the litter box, straining to urinate, or urinating outside the litter box. 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. 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.

Diet and Nutrition

Work with your vet to come up with a diet that’s appropriate for your ragdoll’s age and activity level. In general, wet foods help provide the moisture that can help prevent urinary issues. 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.

Pros
  • Social, outgoing, and great for active homes

  • Affectionate and loves to be pet

  • Smart and trainable

Cons
  • Not hypoallergenic

  • Prone to urinary and heart issues

  • Purebred ragdolls are expensive to buy

Where to Adopt or Buy a Ragdoll Cat

Is a ragdoll cat right for you? The next step is to start working to find a breeder. 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 ragdolls are right for you. 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.

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

Make sure that you do lots of research before deciding if a ragdoll cat is the best pet for your home. Seek out reputable breeders, talk to other ragdoll owners and reach out to known rescue groups for further information. If you're interested in similar breeds, check out these felines:

There are also many other different cat breeds for you to explore before you decide which one is right for your home.

Article Sources
The Spruce Pets uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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