Ragdoll Cat Breed Facts, Photos, and Care Tips - PetHelpful - By fellow animal lovers and experts
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Ragdoll Cat Breed Facts, Photos, and Care Tips

Linda Crampton is a biology teacher, writer, and long-time pet owner. She currently has dogs, cats, and birds in her family.

What Are Ragdolls?

Ragdolls are beautiful cats that make lovely pets. When they are relaxed in a person’s arms, some Ragdolls become limp and floppy. This behaviour gave the cats their name. They are gentle, calm, and loving animals, generally intelligent, and very social. They get on well with people of all ages and often with other pets in the family as well.

Ragdolls are often described as the most dog-like of cats. They come when called, can be trained to chase and retrieve a ball, and will often walk on a leash. Mine even respond correctly to the “sit” command, just like my dogs do. Some cats like to greet their family members when they come home. Nevin and Bennie—my ragdoll cats—often greet my dogs as they pass by. Ragdolls frequently enjoy sleeping on top of people, which Nevin loves to do. Some even follow their owners from room to room.

Ragdolls are large cats but have a soft voice. Males may reach as much as twenty to twenty-five pounds in weight, while females can reach around fifteen pounds. They grow slowly and don't reach their full size until they are four years old.

Bennie is one of my ragdoll cats.

Bennie is one of my ragdoll cats.

Although the cats shown in this article look different from one another, they are all Ragdolls. Representatives of the breed have a wide variety of colours and patterns.

Timo the Ragdoll Cat

Physical Appearance

Ragdolls are pointed cats that have blue eyes and long, soft hair. By definition, a pointed cat has a pale body with a darker face, ears, legs, and tail. Sometimes, though, a Ragdoll's legs are the same colour as its body or a dark colour is present on its back. The colour on the cat's face is known as a mask.

Ragdoll kittens are white. Their colours start to appear at around ten days of age but don’t develop completely until the cats are two to three years old. An animal's appearance is classified according to its colour and pattern combination.

When my family chose our ragdoll kittens we were interested in the kittens' characters and not their appearance as an adult. Some people do like to get a ragdoll with a particular appearance, though.

A very young ragdoll kitten at a breeder's home

A very young ragdoll kitten at a breeder's home

Colours and Patterns

Different organizations classify the colours and patterns of Ragdolls slightly differently. The Ragdoll Fanciers Club International (RFCI) recognizes six colours and five patterns. The highlights of these classifications are given below. There are additional requirements for each classification.

The appearance of individual Ragdolls may vary slightly from the official patterns. Fitting perfectly into a particular appearance category is only important if a cat is going to enter shows. It makes no difference to the lovability of a pet.

Ragdoll Colours

Official Colour NameActual Point Colour

Seal

Dark brown to brown-black

Chocolate

Lîght to medium brown

Blue

Blue-grey or grey

Lilac

Very light grey, sometimes with a hint of pink

Red or Flame

Orange

Cream

Ivory or pale sand

Nontraditional Colours

Some nontraditional Ragdolls are completely or almost completely one colour—white or a darker colour—instead of having a mixture of light and dark colours in their fur. The kittens of the darker nontraditional varieties may be born with dark hair. The eyes of some of these less common Ragdolls are blue-green rather than blue.

There is controversy about whether the variations should be classified as Ragdolls or hybrids. Even without considering these unusual varieties, though, ragdoll coats have such a wide range of coat designs that different cats often appear to belong to different breeds.

A ragdoll kitten being used as a bookmark

A ragdoll kitten being used as a bookmark

Pattern Names and Highlights

Nevin has a bicolor pattern while Bennie has a lynx pattern. More information about colours and patterns is given in the linked articles below.

PatternHighlight

Colorpoint

Strong contrast between the colour of the points and the rest of the body

Mitted

White paws in contrast to the colour of the rest of the legs

Bicolor

Mask has an inverted white V, legs and paws are white instead of the point colour, back may be lightly shaded with the point colour

Lynx

Tabby markings on the face that look like the letter W

Tortie

Orange or cream fur mixed in with the point colour

Nevin coming home for the first time

Nevin coming home for the first time

Buying a Ragdoll Cat

Ragdolls are expensive and cost at least a few hundred dollars. Show quality cats or cats intended for breeding may cost more than a thousand dollars. Ragdolls should be bought from a reputable breeder to help ensure that they have their typical pleasant character. If you're interested in getting a cat with a particular colour or coat pattern, a breeder will be helpful because he or she will have experience predicting the final appearance of a kitten when it becomes an adult.

There is more to consider than appearance when buying a kitten. Temperament and health are very important. The medical history of the parents and grandparents of a kitten should be explored. This is another reason why a reliable and recommended breeder is important.

My Cats

My family bought ragdoll kittens because we have birds that are free-flying much of the time. We wanted to get cats that are known for their calmness and trainability. Later on we couldn’t resist bringing a rescue kitten home, too. This decision required much discussion, since the rescue cat (Smudge) has an unknown ancestry. We knew that rescue cats and fairly large free-flying birds could live together successfully from our experience with our previous two cats. They were both abandoned when very young and brought into the home as kittens. Happily, Smudge settled into the family well.

All of our present cats and birds co-exist peacefully, although we very occasionally have to make use of a water spray bottle when a cat is eyeing a bird with too much interest. We make sure that the birds are shut up in a room and separated from the cats at night. We do the same when we leave the house or if we are busy or shut up in a different part of the house from the birds during the day. The cats get on well with our two dogs and have developed a friendship with them.

Though the system described above works well in my home, it may not do so in a different home with different animals and a different setup. Caution is always necessary when animals that could hurt each other are allowed to come into close contact.

Timo Meets a Moving FurReal Toy Kitten

Despite the name of the animatronic FurReal pets, their maker (Hasbro) says that their fur is synthetic and is made of polyester or acrylic.

Caring for a Ragdoll

Feeding

Ragdolls are fairly easy to care for and usually stay healthy. Like all cats, they should be fed a good quality food. The advice of the breeder and vet can be useful in this respect. There are advantages and disadvantages to both dry and moist cat food. I feed my cats a mixture of each type. Dry food is more nutrient dense and is less expensive, but some moist food is essential for cats. Unlike a dog, cats don't drink much water, so it's important to give them some in their food.

Grooming

My cats love to be groomed. The usual recommendation is to brush Ragdolls twice a week, which works very well for mine. Some animals may require more frequent brushing in order to deal with shedding, matting, or hairballs.

Caring for Teeth and Claws

Oral Care

Most vets recommend daily tooth brushing for cats. It's very important that this is done with a toothpaste designed for cats and not with human toothpaste, which often contains harmful substances for cats. If daily brushing is impractical, aim for every other day. Even a quick wipe of the teeth with gauze and cat toothpaste can be helpful when there isn't time for a full brushing session.

Claws and Litter

Claws will likely need to be cut every few weeks. Groomers and veterinary assistants will do this for a fee if you're worried about cutting the quick. (The "quick" is the part of the nail that contains blood vessels and nerve endings.)

Cat litter needs to be cleaned daily. It's important to consider the safety of the litter that's purchased. Since Ragdolls are big cats, they need a big litter tray. They also need a big scratching post.

Although no one can predict the lifespan of a cat with certainty, a Ragdoll that is well cared for, doesn’t develop a serious health problem, and is never let out of the house on its own (except in an enclosed area) may live for fifteen years or longer.

Play and Activity

Ragdolls are clever cats and like to play. Toys are fun, but the cats need personal attention as well. My cats' favourite toys are balls. One likes to chase a ball and bring it back to me for me to throw again. They both love to bat the ball around a room with their paws.

Since Ragdolls are such friendly and trusting animals, they should be kept on a leash and harness when they are outside. Walking on a leash prevents cats from being taken by someone else and from being run over by a car. It also reduces the chance of them being attacked by a wild animal, killing wildlife themselves, or eating something poisonous.

As is the case for all pets, a ragdoll cat should visit a vet for health checks and for the treatment of health problems. In addition, the location of an emergency pet clinic should be noted in case a visit is ever necessary.

A Ragdoll in the Family

If you can afford the purchase cost and the ongoing cost of food and veterinary care, it's worth considering bringing a Ragdoll into the family. Ragdolls are attractive animals and generally have a lovely character. Their affectionate nature and trainability make them great pets and companions.

Rescue Ragdolls are quite often available. These cats have usually lost their home for a serious reason, such as mistreatment or abandonment. They need to be adopted by a loving person. They may be adults instead of kittens and they may be hybrid animals instead of true Ragdolls. They can still make lovely pets, though, and will almost certainly be happy when treated with kindness by their new owner or family.

References

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

Question: My Ragdoll cat is wild and destructive when playing. How can I train my cat to be more "calm"?

Answer: I sympathize with your situation. I didn’t have the problem with my cats because they came into a home that already had two dogs. We treated the cats much like we treated the dogs and one of the dogs became a substitute parent for them. I suggest that you do a web search for “training a kitten to be calm.” When I did this, I found some articles that may be helpful, including one from a veterinary clinic.

Question: Why did Ann Baker make the Ragdoll cat?

Answer: Ann Baker was the founder of the Ragdoll breed. She lived in California at the time. There’s quite a lot of mystery surrounding the creation of the breed, and some strange stories associated with the event are in circulation. In the 1960s, Ann had a cat called Josephine who is said to have had long, white hair. Some reports say that Josephine was actually a neighbor’s cat. Josephine produced an interesting litter. Ann realized that the kittens in the litter had special features. She kept at least one of them to breed (and likely chose the father very carefully). The breeding program continued, and Ragdolls were eventually created.

I can’t say exactly why Ann created the breed. I assume she was a cat lover who was interested in breeding and found the features of Josephine’s kittens appealing. She did trademark the Ragdoll name and tried to control the breeding program as much as she could, which didn’t make her very popular. In addition, she does seem to have had some idiosyncrasies. I’m not going to assign any more motivations to her decision to create the breed, however, because she died in 1997. She can’t be interviewed or report her point of view about the stories linked to her name.

© 2011 Linda Crampton

Comments

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 14, 2018:

They must be fun to care for. Kittens are cute. Adults are, too!

bookpaw on April 14, 2018:

i have baby cats 4 of them

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 07, 2018:

I like ragdolls, too! They are lovely cats.

bookpaw on April 07, 2018:

i like ragdolls

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on September 04, 2017:

Thanks for the interesting comment, Hannah. Your cat must be beautiful if he looks like the one in the photo!

Hannah Draper on September 04, 2017:

The picture you have of the flame point rag doll looks scarily similar to my cat. I have never seen two cats with such a resemblance to each other. I literally had to check to make sure the image was not one of my cat.

My cat is not pedigree but I am 10000000% sure he is a rag doll. I will share a picture of my cat if anyone is curious.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 13, 2016:

I can understand why two young cats would keep you busy! Some cats certainly like to run things.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on January 13, 2016:

We have two cats now about four months old and they just run things! They own us!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 26, 2012:

Hi, oliversmum. Thank you very much for the comment and the votes. I'm pleased that all the pets get on well, too. With so many animals in the house it would be a big problem if there were lots of disagreements!

oliversmum from australia on July 26, 2012:

AliciaC Hi. What beautiful Animals your Ragdolls are.

Very pretty cats and look so very soft, their coloring and markings are incredible

It's really great that they all get on so well.

I love all the photographs,but my favorite is Nevin and Sam together, he looks like a very placid and special dog.

Thanks for sharing your wonderful animal family with us. Thumbs up and Beautiful. :):)

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on May 13, 2012:

Hi, Infonolan. I'm sorry that you've just lost your cat. It's a very sad time when a pet dies. Ragdolls are certainly worth considering when you're looking for a new cat - they are lovely animals!

infonolan on May 13, 2012:

I've always been fond of cats, but these ragdoll ones sound very interesting. I just lost a cat and was wondering what I'd get if I eventually choose to get a new one. ;)

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 03, 2011:

Thank you very much, natures47friend. Yes, I would be worried living by a busy road with either a cat or a dog. Even an indoor cat may suddenly appear and then sneak outside when a door is opened - I know from experience! Luckily this hasn't happened very often in my home, and only with one particular cat. He's always turned around and come right back in again, or waited near the door until I pick him up, and he's never gone more than a few meters from the door or anywhere near the quiet road in front of our house. I've learned to be very careful, though!

natures47friend from Sunny Art Deco Napier, New Zealand. on December 03, 2011:

Voted awesome and voted up. I wanted to get a ragdoll years back but the breeder was concerned about the busy main road. We had 3 cats killed on that road and one badly injured. It was also a concern that a cat this cute could be stolen so I'm thrilled to have come across your hub...what lovely animals you have.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 24, 2011:

Eddy, I hope so much that either your landlord changes his or her mind or that you find a place to live that allows pets. Thank you very much for the lovely comment!

Eiddwen from Wales on November 24, 2011:

Oh Alicia,this hub is marvellous. It has howver made me jealous because our landlord will not allow pets in our house and I so desperatly want a cat,dog or whatever less.

Your photos are marvellous and the whole hub a masterpiece.

Take care and I wish you a great day.

Eddy.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 16, 2011:

Thanks a lot for the comment and the votes, Tina. Yes, Nevin is a very calm and relaxed cat, but Bennie is a bit more energetic. He's a smaller cat than Nevin, too. They both fit in well with a house full of people, dogs and birds!

Christina Lornemark from Sweden on November 16, 2011:

What adorable cats and they seems to be calm and laid back! It was interesting to read about Ragdoll and that they are the most dog-like cat, I didn't know so much about them. Both cats and dogs seem to have a great life with you Alicia! Voted up, interesting,

Tina

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 16, 2011:

Thank you very much for the kind comment, drbj. I enjoy writing about pets!

drbj and sherry from south Florida on November 16, 2011:

Thank you, Alicia, for enhancing my ragdoll cat education which was practically nil before this fascinating and informative hub came along. Well done, m'dear.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 15, 2011:

Thank you, Minnetonka Twin! Yes, Nevin and Bennie both have very soft hair. Spray bottles are wonderful for training pets. My cats have stopped what they were doing after seeing me pick up the spray bottle too!

Linda Rogers from Minnesota on November 15, 2011:

What beautiful cats Alicia and I just love looking at these great pictures of them. They look so soft! I use a spray bottle for my dogs because I didn't believe in using a shock collar. It works really well and usually I don't even have to spray them. They see me pick it up and stop the negative behavior. Great information about these cats. Thx

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 15, 2011:

Hi, arusho. I've never had the experience of a cat following me from room to room. That sounds like it would be interesting! Thanks for the comment.

arusho from University Place, Wa. on November 15, 2011:

Pretty cats, I didn't know Ragdolls were the most dog like. We have a black and white mix and she follows me from room to room when I'm doing chores.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 15, 2011:

Thanks for the visit, mary615. Ragdolls are a wonderful choice if someone wants to get a cat. They're a lovely breed.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on November 15, 2011:

Wow! I just learned something new...I never heard of this breed. Sounds like a perfect cat. Thanks for the info.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 15, 2011:

That's funny, Donna! I think that ragdoll cats are adorable, too. Thanks for the comment.

Donna Sundblad from Georgia on November 15, 2011:

Would you believe the first time I saw a ragdoll cat was at a bird show! They are adorable!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 15, 2011:

Thank you very much for the comment, CMHypno. I can't resist taking photos of my pets - they're so cute, and they're such an important part of my family.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 15, 2011:

Hi, GoGreenTips. Yes, ragdolls are clever and entertaining cats. It's fun to watch them and play with them! Thank you for the visit and the comment.

CMHypno from Other Side of the Sun on November 15, 2011:

Alicia, these ragdoll cats are adorable and I want one! Very interesting hub with lots of great information and amazing photos

Greg Johnson from Indianapolis on November 15, 2011:

We have a ragdoll, well part ragdoll and part Siamese. very intelligent cat, follows my wife and I around the house, plays fetch with the little nerf darts. Very funny cat!

Loved your Hub!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 14, 2011:

Hi, Becky. I've always found a spray bottle invaluable for training cats to avoid things that are very important to avoid. They hate the water spray, yet it doesn't hurt them. I only use it for very important situations so that it doesn't lose its effect! I've always had cats join my family when they were kittens, never when they were adults. Good luck with protecting your gerbils and training your rescue cat to leave them alone!

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on November 14, 2011:

My daughter just brought home a rescue cat today. She will be allowed to keep it if there are no major problems. The dog and her seem to be getting along but the gerbils had to go into my office. They were in her room. The cat went after them immediately. My office is further away from the living area and since I am in here most of the time, I can keep an eye out on interactions. Protecting gerbils from cats seems to be my job this week. I will have to get a water bottle tomorrow, I forgot about using one for training cats. I haven't had one for years.