Cat Breeds: The Ragdoll Cat

Cat Breeds: The Ragdoll Cat

Often seen with similar markings and distinctive blue eyes as the Siamese, the Ragdoll is a relatively new cat breed that’s stormed the popularity charts. Just like the Maine coon cat, the Ragdoll is another large cat with a docile temperament and it’s especially popular because of its amenable personality.

Where does the Ragdoll cat come from?

The history of the Ragdoll is as bizarre as the cat is cute! The first Ragdolls are credited to a Californian breeder called Ann Baker in the 1960s. After noting an exceptionally placid and friendly character in some kittens, she set about replicating these traits and the end result was the Ragdoll. Although there were some concerns about Baker’s mental health due to conspiratorial claims about alien and CIA involvement in the breed, the Ragdolls soon started gaining popularity.

Baker initially insisted her breed would not be indoctrinated into traditional cat breeding associations, setting up her own registry instead, she enforced increasingly strict breeding conditions. Over the following years, unable and unwilling to continue following Baker’s increasing demands for the breed, other established breeders started breaking away from her registry. The Ragdoll considered the breed standard today by the UK Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) appeared in the mid 1970’s and not long after that, they came to British shores where they’ve been gaining popularity ever since.

What should a Ragdoll cat look like?

The Ragdoll is a large cat with males easily reaching 20lbs. Their beautiful, semi long glossy coat can come in three coat pattern types:

  • Colourpoint – will have a lighter body with a darker mask, legs and tail and won’t have any white in their coat.
  • Bicolour – will have white mixed into their coats, usually going higher up their legs and on their faces.
  • Mitted – mitted in cat colour terms means their fur is coloured about their paws and lower legs, like they’re wearing mittens. In the case of the Ragdoll, mitted means they have white paws as well as sometimes showing white on their faces and tails.

The Ragdoll coat can come in lots of different colours and patterns but most Ragdolls will have blue eyes and a delicately turned up nose giving them an adorably unique face.

Due to the fact Ragdoll cats don’t have undercoats, they don’t tend to shed as heavily as some longer haired cats do.

What sort of personality does the Ragdoll cat have?

As beautiful as the Ragdoll is to look at, it’s their placid and friendly demeanour that makes them so popular. Breed founder Baker decided on the name after claiming her Ragdolls became so relaxed in her arms, they went as limp as a ragdoll. Whilst this is generally considered an exaggeration in todays cat, it’s not far off. Most Ragdolls are so docile they’ll happily lay in your arms for hours lavishing any attention you’re willing to throw them.

Although they’re not a demanding cat, they will love to play (especially in their younger years) and have higher than average intelligence levels making them great at learning tricks. They’re not as keen on heights as some other breeds but they’re happiest curled up on a sofa or bed and they’ll rarely turn down a lap to sit in.

It’s not surprising they make such great family cats and they love being the casual observer in a room of people they trust. Although they can be left alone for short periods of time, studies have shown they do get lonely. Some Ragdolls might relieve this loneliness in destructive endeavours, but most lonely Ragdolls will exhibit the same types of behaviour you might see in a depressed human. Under or oversleeping, eating and grooming along with a general lethargy could be signs your Ragdoll is lonely.

What health problems are common with Ragdoll cats?

There is a very untrue myth that the Ragdoll has a higher tolerance to pain than other cat breeds. Whilst their laid-back nature sometimes makes them less inclined to show when they’re in pain, they most definitely feel it in the same way any cat would.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a heart disease that can show in any cat but Ragdolls are a breed with a higher propensity for it. There are tests to show if a cat has the HCM gene and reputable breeders are working hard to make sure no carriers are bred from. If you’re thinking of bringing a Ragdoll kitten home, ask your breeder to see documented proof both your kitten’s parents are free from the gene.