Ragdoll Cat

Ragdoll cat lying down, portrait
PhotoAlto/Anne-Sophie Bost / Getty Images

If you’re looking for a large, affectionate cat that can go with the flow, look no further than the Ragdoll cat. These cats 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 that intimidate you. Their big blue eyes and loud, throaty purr let you know that these cats are just big softies. This cat is notoriously social, making them a good fit for bustling homes with plenty of activity.

Breed Overview

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

Height: 11 to 13 inches at the shoulder

Coat: Medium-length and silky

Coat Colors: Many different colors and patterns

Eye Color: Blue eyes

Life Expectancy: 13 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

Medium

Trainability

High

Intelligence

High

Tendency to Vocalize

Medium

Amount of Shedding

Medium

History of the Ragdoll Cat

This cat is very new compared to many other breeds. The Ragdoll cat breed was created in California in the 1960s. A cat breeder named Ann Baker wanted to create a beautiful cat with a loving personality. Ann started using domestic medium-haired cats of unknown origin. Josephine, the original mother cat of the breed, was white.

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 personality.

Unfortunately, drama erupted between Baker and some other Ragdoll fanciers in the 1970s. Eventually, many of the early lovers of the Ragdoll breed and Baker herself parted ways. The Ragdoll breed remains popular today despite this upheaval.

The Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) began registering Ragdolls in 1993. Today, Ragdolls are the fifth most popular cat breed 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. That said, this breed still requires brushing at least twice a week to help avoid matting.

Ragdolls also need regular ear cleaning. Drip a few drops of warm feline ear cleaner into the cat’s ears, then massage the outside of the ear. You might want to have a bit of meat-flavored baby food or other extra-tasty cat treats on hand to help your feline friend stay calm during this treatment. After about five minutes, use a cotton ball to wipe out the inside of your cat’s ears.

Like all other cats, Ragdolls also generally need toenail trims. Keep in mind that your cat will probably want to sharpen her claws even more than normal after a pedicure, so be sure to provide some good scratching posts!

Ragdolls are also 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, get up and play with her! 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 have the potential for genetic health issues—even mixed breed animals can get genetic diseases! It’s important to know what your chosen breed is prone to, so that you can ask a breeder about the appropriate testing. 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 her daily food can help keep your cat fit and trim. Giving your cat regular play is also important for weight management. While “fluffy” fat cats might be cute, they’re not healthy!

Purebred Ragdolls don’t have a lot of genetic diversity. They’re vulnerable to bladder stones and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Bladder stones are painful and can lead to cat litter box issues. You can help your kitty avoid bladder stones and other urinary infections by encouraging her to drink lots of fresh water and feeding her high-quality food.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is harder to avoid, because it’s genetic. HCM is a heart disease that causes thickening of the heart muscle. A cardiogram 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.

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 has been connected to diabetes in cats because insulin spikes every time a cat eats, no matter how high quality the food is. Since cats spend much of their time lying around, a great way to make your cat’s life more interesting is to make use of puzzle toys for feeding/

Are Ragdoll Cats Hypoallergenic?

Unfortunately for allergy-sufferers, Ragdolls are not hypoallergenic. Although some allergy-sufferers are less bothered by medium-coat cats, Ragdolls are not bred to be hypoallergenic. Breeders that make claims of hypoallergenic Ragdolls are trying to make a quick buck!

Ragdolls don’t have an undercoat, which can lessen allergic reactions for people who are allergic to dander. But most people actually are allergic to saliva and skin secretions from cats. Ragdolls still produce the allergens found in cat saliva and skin secretions.

More Cat Breeds and Further Research

Is a Ragdoll right for you? The next step is to start working to find a breeder or rescue. The Cat Fanciers Association Breeder Referral Search is a great place to start when searching for a breeder. Take the time to get to know the breeder and the breed before jumping into your purchase.The breeder can also help you get to know the breed and ensure that Ragdolls are right for you.

If you're interested in similar breeds, check out these felines:

There’s the perfect companion out there for everyone!