Ragdoll breed

Get to Know the Ragdoll: A Large, Laidback Cat

The Ragdoll is a really cool cat. His huge body, mid-length coat and affectionate character remind me of a Maine Coon, but his coloring obviously has a strong influence from Oriental breeds. Here’s the inside scoop on the wildly popular breed.

Origins

The Ragdoll was developed in the early 1960s by Riverside, California breeder Ann Baker from ordinary house cats. The lineage matriarch was a long-haired she-cat named Josephine, who was mated with a seal cat named Daddy Warbucks. Some sources say Papa Warbucks was Josephine’s son, others don’t. However, Dad Warbucks was bred with Josephine’s daughter, Buckwheat, and Buckwheat’s half-sister, Fugianna, and these cats were the foundation of the breed.

Today, the Ragdoll is recognized for its championship status by both the Cat Fanciers Association and the International Cat Association.

Appearance

The Ragdoll comes in three patterns: colorpoint, bicolor and mitted. Colorpoint Ragdolls have markings like Siamese Cats, Mmitted Ragdolls have white feet, and Bicolor Ragdolls have white bellies and white chins along with white boots and mittens. You can find Ragdolls in seal, chocolate, blue, lilac, red, and cream, as well as tortie and tabby variations of these spot colors.

Ragdolls have innocent blue eyes, wide ears, and wedge-shaped heads. They are among the largest domestic cats: adult males weigh between 15 and 20 pounds and females between 10 and 15 pounds.

Health and longevity

Ragdoll kittens have rapid growth spurts but are slow to mature: they don’t reach full size until they are about four years old. After this age, be sure to monitor their food intake and avoid excessive weight gain.

Generally speaking, Ragdolls are healthy cats, but the breed has a high level of inbreeding. According to the Ragdoll Database, approximately 45% of the breed’s genes come from one cat, Raggedy Ann Daddy Warbucks, which has resulted in an above average risk of certain health issues. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and blood clot blockages, kidney and bladder problems are more common in Ragdolls than in other breeds.

What is it like to live with a Ragdoll

Your Ragdoll probably won’t be a curtain climber, even as a kitten. He’ll be as rambunctious as any kitten and he’ll enjoy chasing toys and maybe even playing fetch, but he won’t use your shelves as a gym in the jungle. He will quickly make friends with all your family and other pets, including dogs, and will tolerate unintentional rough handling by young children better than many other breeds. (However, make sure children know that fighting with the kitten is not okay.) When your Ragdoll reaches social maturity around the age of three, he will calm down and settle into this famous attentive and loving cat mode.

Your Ragdoll will require regular grooming, but not as much as other long haired breeds. You will need to comb it once or twice a week to remove dead hair and separate knots. During shedding season, he will need a little more attention: check his armpits to make sure he doesn’t develop any uncomfortable mats there. As long as you get him used to combing his hair regularly as a kitten, you shouldn’t have any problems as he gets older.

Ragdoll Question Pieces

  • Breed’s founder, Ann Baker, was a good marketer and a hell of a storyteller. She came up with a doozy of a tale about how the Ragdoll was born: Apparently Josephine was hit by a car and taken to a local medical center where her genes were altered, and after that all her litters had affectionate nature and tendency to sag in people’s arms.
  • The Ragamuffin started out as essentially the same breed as the Ragdoll. In 1994, a group of breeders became disillusioned with the increasingly strict breeding restrictions imposed by the Baker’s International Ragdoll Cat Association and split up to form their own group. Because Baker had trademarked the name Ragdoll, they had to come up with a different name for the same cat.
  • Like Siamese cats, Ragdolls are born white and slowly develop their spot colors.

Do you have a Ragdoll at home? How is it to live with her? Please share your thoughts and photos of your Ragdoll in the comments!

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About Jane A Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer, and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, clever conversation, and adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as the head cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have written their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.