Not many future cat owners know that Ragdoll cat breeds (or simply Ragdolls) are one of the more well-rounded cat breeds out there. With a calm and docile personality, they are excellent lap and apartment cats, while at the same time they are highly intelligent and enjoy learning new tricks and playing games. This may be just the best cat to adopt for small apartments.
Ragdolls are also very nice and obedient animals. With a good training technique a ragdoll will easily learn to listen to you and do as you say – you can teach a ragdoll not to scratch the furniture and not to go where you don’t want it to go. With a beautiful longhair and colorpoint coat, they are also exceptionally beautiful pets.
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Ragdoll Cat Breed Information
Everything Future and Current Owners Must Know
General Ragdoll Cat Breed Questions
Here are some of the most common questions about the Ragdoll cat breed that most future and current cat owners may be curious about.
1. Where does the name “Ragdoll” come from?
The Ragdoll cats got their name from a behavior they often display – when picked up, some Ragdolls go limp and relaxed in your hands and look similar a ragdoll toy. It’s a myth that all Ragdolls do this, however, only some do.
Nevertheless, all Ragdoll cats feel very comfortable when they are picked up and they like being carried around – more so than other cat breeds do.
Also, note that this “limpness” that some Ragdolls display when picked up is not in any way a genetic problem – they are just a very relaxed and calm breed that trusts humans and enjoys being picked up.
2. Weren’t the Ragdoll cats the ones that didn’t feel any pain and could therefore inadvertently kill themselves while sleeping on the stove?
This is a myth and it’s a myth that was largely started by the breed’s creator – Mrs. Ann Baker who developed the breed in the late 1960s. Ragdolls are no more insensitive to pain than any other cat breed.
While there are neural problems that a cat (from any breed!) can develop, it’s exceptionally rare and is not more common to Ragdolls than it is to any other breed.
One thing that has helped the popularization of Mrs. Baker’s myth is the fact that Ragdolls are very docile cats – they rarely complain and usually keep their troubles to themselves. Besides, in terms of pain, almost all cat breeds prefer to keep it to themselves.
Unlike people and dogs, cats – even social breeds – don’t share their serious problems as much as they do the smaller ones. To cats problems are a weakness that needs to be kept from their peers. A cat in pain is likely to keep away from company and purr to itself, but not complain.
Why did Mrs. Baker create this myth isn’t really clear. It could have been on purpose to help popularize the breed, it could have been a mistake, or possibly – a Ragdoll cat in her care really did have a neurological condition that prevented it from feeling pain.
All in all, given Mrs. Bakers other weird claims about the breed, it’s safe to say that she was a very “eccentric” person. Regardless, please do not test this myth by torturing your cat!
3. I’ve seen Ragdoll cats with all kinds of coat coloring – does the breed have a lot of variations?
Ragdolls typically come in 6 different colors – red, seal, chocolate, blue, lilac, and cream. Most ragdolls have a colorpoint pattern to their coats, but some Ragdolls can also have a mitted pattern (similar to the colorpoint, but with white paws and abdomen), and some are bicolor.
Variations to this include a Lynx (the above description but with a tabby markings) and Tortoiseshell or “tortie” (a variation that’s mottled or parti-colored). Most ragdolls are blue-eyed.
While all these may feel too diverse for a single breed, the Ragdoll breed is far better characterized with its size – Ragdolls are one of the largest breeds of domesticated cats. An adult female Ragdoll weighs between 8 and 15 pounds (3.6 – 6.8 kg). Male Ragdolls are quite larger – they can be anywhere between 12 and 20 pounds (5.4 – 9.1 kg) or even more.
History of Ragdoll Cat Breeds
With the general questions about the Ragdoll cat breed out of the way, some pet owners are often curious about the history of this breed of cat. Here’s what to know.
1. So, Mrs. Ann Baker developed the breed in the late 1960s. How exactly did this happen?
To a large extend – on accident.
The story of the Ragdoll breed starts in 1965 in Riverside, Los Angeles, California. There, a Mrs. Pennels owned an Angora-type cat named Josephine. In 1965 Josephine was involved in a car accident and sustained multiple injuries, including an injured pelvis. Fortunately, her vet managed to save the cat and return it to Mrs. Pennels. Josephine lived for a long time after that and produced several litters.
Ann Baker was a neighbor to Mrs. Pennels and purchased 3 of Josephine’s kittens – Daddy Warbucks, Buckwheat, and Fugianna. While these three cats were not classified as Ragdolls themselves, they became the foundation of the Ragdoll breed. Daddy Warbucks and Buckwheat were subsequently mated and produced a seal mitted cat named Kyoto and a seal colorpoint one called Tiki. These two were the first official Ragdoll cats.
Mrs. Baker continued breeding her cats and several years later started to sell them. Whether in an effort to raise the cats’ popularity, or just due to her eccentric nature, Ann Baker started spreading a lot of myths about her cats – she talked about an alien influence in their development, about CIA experiments, about the infusion of human genes into the cats, etc., etc.
Mrs. Baker has said that after Josephine’s accident, all her litters were filled with “floppy cats”, while litters previous to the accident didn’t display this behavior. Therefore, Mrs. Baker concluded, the accident “caused a limp gene in the cats”.
Of course, there’s also the “pain insensitivity” myth we already mentioned above.
At one point she even claimed that another breed she developed – the HoneyBear cat – was in fact genetically modified with skunk DNA and had a skunk skeleton!
Mrs. Baker also had some less-weird theories, like the one that Ragdolls’ coat is completely non-matting and non-shedding. While this is also wrong, it’s at least a bit closer to the truth, because Ragdolls truly shed less than other longhaired cat breeds like the Persian and the Angora.
2. If Ragdolls are just offspring of an Angora-type cat and had nothing special in them, why are they considered a different breed today?
Mrs. Baker herself started crossbreeding her cats very early on. Persians, Angoras, Birmans, and Burmese breeds were all said to have been mixed with Ragdolls.
Additionally, Mrs. Baker was not the only one to develop Ragdolls – after a while other people started doing it as well. Eventually a lot of those people broke off from Mrs.
Baker and started the Ragdoll Fanciers Club with the goal of standardizing the breed. The Cat Fanciers Association began registering Ragdoll cats much later, in 1993 and officially recognized the breed in the year 2000.
While all this makes the breed quite new, the several decades of efforts paid off and the Ragdoll is an official and quite physically independent breed today.
Personality of Ragdoll Cat Breed
Here are a few things that pet owners need to know about the personality of Ragdoll cat breeds, because they certainly differ from many other domesticated cats.
1. Ragdolls are docile enough to be mistaken for unfeeling pain? Are they really that passive?
While “docile” is the word you’ll most often hear in regard to Ragdolls, they are not actual toys. Anyone who mistakes them for not feeling pain likely knows nothing about cats. Ragdolls like people, like being petted and carried around, and are calm and peaceful animals.
However, they are also quite playful and intelligent. Ragdolls love learning new tricks and exploring, they enjoy playing fetch and other games. They are not fond of climbing too much – you’ll usually find a Ragdoll at or below eye level, most of the time on the couch or the bed. They love to follow you around and observe your actions even if they don’t feel like joining in. They are quite obedient and can be taught to come when you call them by name.
For all those reasons, you can often hear people comparing them with dogs.
All of the above makes Ragdolls excellent lap cats that love to snuggle and keep you company, while also enjoy playing and having fun.
2. You mentioned training – what need does a Ragdoll cat have of training?
Do I need to do something specific to make sure my Ragdoll cat grows up into a nice and decent animal?
Cats are typically much easier than dogs in terms of house training. They figure out most things intuitively and require to be taught only specific things when it comes to playing and tricks, as well as some house rules.
Still, even just this requires quite a bit of effort. Here are the 3 main categories of actions you need to keep in mind, if you want your cat to grow up into a truly great pet:
1. Parents. Regardless of the breed, the future character of a grown up cat is difficult to judge when it is still just a kitty. For that reason a lot of people opt to get a grown up cat, but if you want to get a small kitty, there are still some things that can give you a clue about its character. In such cases, make sure to look at the kitty’s parents, particularly the mother, but the father and older siblings as well, if possible. Their personalities will give you a pretty good insight on what your cat will grow up into. Also, when you have a choice between multiple kitties from the same litter, avoid choosing the biggest and most active ones, as well as the smallest and most passive ones – choosing a medium-sized and normally-behaved kitty gives you the best chance for it to grow into a well-mannered and balanced cat.
2. Training. Ragdolls are a intelligent breed that’s susceptive to training. You can teach them to play games and do tricks, and you can also teach them where they shouldn’t go, what they shouldn’t do, etc. When training your Ragdoll for such things, however, always make sure to use positive reinforcement only. Any form of punishment, be it physical, verbal, or by locking your cat somewhere, is not only inhumane, but will also have a strong negative effect on its behavior. Instead, focus on treats, gentle words, and petting – this will ensure both a fast learning curve, as well as a great relationship between the two of you.
3. Socializing. It is something that’s often overlooked with cats, but is in fact crucial. Even if you’ve established a solid relationship between yourself and your Ragdoll, without proper socialization, it will still grow up into a fearful and untrusting cat towards any guests and outsiders. If you don’t want your Ragdoll to run and hide every time someone visits you or even just knock on the door – make sure you provide it with a frequent human contact from the earliest age – guests, friends, etc.
Health of Ragdoll Cat Breed
One of the most important parts to cover is the health of Ragdoll cat breed.
1. As such a new breed, are Ragdoll cats healthy or are they prone to a lot of illnesses?
To say that the Ragdoll cat is not known for its health would be an understatement. Together with the Siamese, Ragdolls are considered one of the most sickly breeds out there. Which isn’t to say that they are doomed to a life of sickness, but they are simply a bit more likely to develop health problems, compared to other breeds.
The great amount of inbreeding that came into making the Ragdoll breed is largely credited for this. Around 45% of the Ragdoll genes come from only one founder – Ann Baker.
As a result, some of the health issues you need to be on the lookout for, include:
- Urinary problems.
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) – a genetic heart disease, traceable with a DNA test.
- Calcium oxalate bladder stones.
- Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP).
2. How do I take care of my cat’s health, particularly if Ragdolls are so sickly?
Most of all, you should make it a point to consult with organizations such as the Pet Professional Guild and the Ragdoll Fanciers Club before purchasing your cat. They will help you find the best Ragdoll breeder in your vicinity.
An adequate professional cat breeder is needed, because he/she will provide you with health clearances for the cat’s parents – health clearances that will guarantee the best possible health of your cat. Avoid any breeder who refuses to present you proper health clearances.
Once this is done, find a good and trustworthy veterinarian near you, preferably one that works day and night, 7 days a week. Consult with them regularly on your Ragdoll’s health, both in terms of treatment and prevention.
Care of Ragdoll Cat Breed
Caring for Ragdoll cat breed is similar to your regular cat care of other domesticated cats, but there are a few things that pet owners should know.
1. What care should I provide my Ragdoll with?
- A Ragdoll may shed less than a Persian cat, but it’s still a longhaired breed – combing a Ragdoll at least twice per week is strongly advisable.
- Consider bathing your Ragdoll from time to time – either once every several weeks if needed, or once every several months.
- Daily dental hygiene is also important. If you don’t have the time/nerve for brushing your cat’s teeth daily, make sure to do it at least on a weekly basis.
- If you notice a wet discharge at the corner of the cat’s eyes, wipe it with a clean cloth. Use separate cloths for each eye to avoid spreading a possible infection.
- Check the ears regularly and if they look dry, wipe them with a dampen cloth or cotton ball.
- Keep the litterbox of a Ragdoll very clean. All cats are extremely particular about their bathroom hygiene, but longhaired ones need a clean litterbox even more so, because their long hair can often get excrements stuck in it.
- Ragdolls are not good outdoors cats, so keep your Ragdoll indoors only.
- Ragdolls don’t have a specific diet needs – simply feed your Ragdoll with high quality cat food, alternating dry and wet food.
Children and Other Pets for Exotic Cat Breeds
1. Are Ragdoll cats suitable for a home with children?
As a very laidback breed, Ragdolls are ideal for a family life. They are very gentle when they play with children, almost never take out their claws, and have a great patience for dress-up or sitting games. Being quite a large breed, they are also in little danger of being hurt.
Still, you need to make sure that your children know how to properly play with a cat – not to pull its hair and limbs, not to torment or beat it, not to carry it in a wrong manner, and so on. As long as you make sure that your children are smart enough to not mishandle the cat – a Ragdoll will be happy to join your family life.
2. How about other pets? Are Ragdolls suitable companions for other cats or dogs?
A Ragdoll will be happy to live with any cat, as well as with most cat-friendly dogs (meaning – dogs that are not overly active and not too invasive).
Conclusion on Ragdoll Cat Breed Profile
Ragdolls are a perfect pet for a large majority of pet owners and would-be pet owners out there.
Calm, laidback and docile, a Ragdoll won’t give you too much trouble when you are under stress, but it is also playful and intelligent enough to give you a good time when you’re looking to play with your furry friend. They are not destructive to your home, they are easy to train and very obedient.
All in all, a Ragdoll will rarely leave its owner disappointed.
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