Ragdoll Cat Breed Facts, Photos, and Care Tips
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.
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
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.
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.
Official Colour Name
Actual Point Colour
Dark brown to brown-black
Lîght to medium brown
Blue-grey or grey
Very light grey, sometimes with a hint of pink
Red or Flame
Ivory or pale sand
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.
Pattern Names and Highlights
Strong contrast between the colour of the points and the rest of the body
White paws in contrast to the colour of the rest of the legs
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
Tabby markings on the face that look like the letter W
Orange or cream fur mixed in with the point colour
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 has 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.
Photos of My RagdollsClick thumbnail to view full-size
My family bought ragdoll kittens because we have birds that are free-flying much of the time. We wanted to get cats that were 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 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
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.
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.
Teeth and Claws
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 lost their home for a serious reason such as mistreatment or abandonment and 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.
- Written descriptions of different ragdoll colours and patterns from the Ragdoll Fanciers Club International (RCFI classification system)
- Descriptions and photos of ragdoll colours and patterns from Ragdoll Fanciers Worldwide (TICA classification system)
- Ragdoll information from TICA (The International Cat Association)
- "About the Ragdoll" from The Cat Fanciers' Association
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
My Ragdoll cat is wild and destructive when playing. How can I train my cat to be more "calm"?
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.
© 2011 Linda Crampton